GSE tells the story of Paul Hanna and Hanna House

Hanna House
Hanna House, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, was designed in the mid-1930s after Paul Hanna, a professor in the School of Education, and his wife, Jean, asked Wright to develop plans for an inexpensive campus house for their family of five.
Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

As part of its centennial celebrations, the Graduate School of Education (GSE) tells the story of PAUL HANNA, an enterprising education professor, and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home that he and his wife, JEAN, gave to Stanford.

GSE centennial logoThe house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and nestled into a hill of faculty housing on Stanford’s Frenchman’s Lane, is a hexagonal hive of redwood and glass.

It is internationally known – and on the National Register of Historic Places – as the first permanent structure Wright built on a non-rectilinear grid, ushering in a new age of spatial exploration in architecture.

Less well known are the house’s patrons, Paul and Jean Hanna. Hanna, a curriculum specialist, founded the Stanford International Development and Education Center, a global source of leadership in learning and precursor to today’s GSE program in International and Comparative Education. His shaping of K-12 social studies into “expanding communities” seen through interdisciplinary lenses remains one of the top textbook models in its field.

Schools are tasked with more than “passing on the accumulated social habits found satisfactory in the past,” Hanna wrote in 1939, evoking his hero, educational philosopher John Dewey. Schools also serve, Hanna wrote, “as a laboratory of culture in which the culture is examined for ways of continuously improving it, not to ‘learn’ the culture but to work with culture to better it.”

“He was a go-getter. He was one of the most entrepreneurial faculty that I have encountered here, and that is saying something,” said emeritus Professor HANS WEILER, who stayed in the Hanna House with his family when first hired by Hanna in 1965.

Today, Hanna’s house is the most visible legacy of Hanna’s Stanford years. In it, we see how fervently both he and Wright thought education could shape the world.

Read the full story on the website celebrating the Graduate School of Education’s centennial.