Real Estate: Oysterponds Historical Society brings back architects’ house tour

05/30/2011 7:36 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | 2760 Village Lane, Orient.

Returning to a piece of its own history, the Oysterponds Historical Society is resurrecting its architects’ house tour Saturday, with visits to five modernist homes in Orient.

It’s a tour that proved popular in the past, but in recent years, the emphasis has been on historic homes, according to OHS director Ellen Cone Bush.

“History is about the advancing present,” Ms. Cone Bush said. “It’s hard for people to gel with the fact that we do live history.”

But 100 years from now, she added, some of the more recent structures on this tour will be looked at as wonderful examples of 20th century architecture.

In putting the tour together, artist Christine Scott Morton sought structures built or updated within the last century. “The integrity of the facades has been meticulously retained,” Ms. Cone Bush said. But those taking the tour will find that the interiors have been updated to meet modern needs.

The participating homeowners have been “very generous and gracious with their hospitality,” Ms. Cone Bush said.

The tour begins at a circa 1900 house  that was occupied by the same family for the better part of a century. In the 1970s, a two-car garage was added and, in the mid 1990s, a Victorian front porch was built. Renovations completed this year by Gluckman Mayner Architects involved reorienting the house toward the 180-degree views of Long Island Sound. In approaching the project, the architects made the exterior design fit with the surrounding historical area.

According to the tour brochure, “Using natural materials such as Alaskan cedar, mahogany and teak, Gluckman Mayner’s design evokes the clean lines of a traditional New England beach cottage.” The interior has a ship-like character with marine features, including a cantilevered stairway, metal railings and a nickle and steel porthole.

The second stop is a house built from 1820, with a dining room that predates the rest of the structure and was once the town tavern on Village Lane. It was moved to the site and attached when the house was built. Architect Dan Fischer has recently updated the kitchen area and converted an adjacent barn that dating from about 1900 for use as a yoga studio.

The third house was constructed on an 18.5-acre site that had been farmed for more than 200 years. Its owners wanted it to be an extension of its surroundings and collaborated with Dirk Kramer of Gwathmey Seigel Architects on a plan based on a home Mr. Kramer had previously designed for them. The plan was subsequently revised by Terry Atkin, Mr. Kramer’s wife, the architect of record on the structure.

“Updating the farmhouse vernacular, light-filled views provide a connection to their park-like setting and interiors open up onto outdoor ‘rooms,’ ” says the tour brochure. Country Living magazine featured the structure as its “House of the Year” in 2004.
The final two structures are both in Browns Hills. The first , according to the brochure, “seems to float over the site, its panoramic windows maximizing the views across to Connecticut.” Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects designed a two-story addition, expanding the original footprint and creating a glass-encased living space and “a serene master bedroom aerie.”

The house was inspired by Le Corbusier’s palette and includes rich colors that accent creamy white walls and textured surfaces. The house is environmentally designed with such features radiant floor slabs for heat and provisions for solar panels.

The final house  was designed in 1959 by Olindo Grossi, dean of the Pratt School of Architecture, and fronts Long Island Sound. With the help of architect Jane Stageberg of Bade Stageberg Cox, the owners renovated the structure in 2008 while following the original vision. Using roof decks and stone pathways, the house is “designed to blur the lines between exterior and interior space,”  according to the brochure. It includes floor to ceiling windows and the scale of the multi-level plan and terraces creates a “cozy family retreat.”

The tour runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 4, and coincides with a sale of local artists’ works at Poquatuck Hall, from which a portion of the proceeds will benefit OHS.

Tickets are $25, but special $50 tickets will entitle visitors to attend a post-tour cocktail reception with the architects.

Call 323-2480 to reserve, as space is limited, especially for the post-tour cocktail reception, Ms. Cone Bush said.

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Spring Architects House Tour
Saturday, June 4, 1 to 4 p.m.
Hosted by Oysterponds Historical Society. Members: $25; nonmembers: $25 in advance/$30 day of tour. Tour-day tickets on sale at Poquatuck Hall, Village Lane, Orient. Call 323-2480.