Ramble On

Monday, November 17, 2014

Visiting the Glass House, Part 2

The main objective of our fall weekend trip was to visit the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Some of Mary's college friends had arranged a tour and the plan was for the group to convene there as a group from all over the northeast.  Over dinner at one of her classmate's house on the night of our arrival, we got caught up on some of their alumni business and talked about the plan for the next day.

We had traveled up by train from Alexandria - we walked to the station, caught a regional, and rode all the way to Connecticut, where we had to make a switch to a commuter line for four stops.  It would have made for a long day, but since the visitor center for the Glass House was walking distance from the station in New Canaan, if the scheduling worked out we probably could have done this whole trip in one day.  It's a shame, but I doubt you could do something like that in other regions of the US.

The Glass House was designed to be a weekend residence by architect Philip Johnson, who built in on an 11 acre property in 1948.  His architecture practice was in the city, but the story goes that the building was inspired by Mies van der Rohe after Johnson completed an exhibit on his work at MOMA in 1947.  In any case, besides the modern aspects of the house, it was an early experiment in the use of industrial materials, such as steel and glass, adapted for private residences.

A side note...Hawksbill Cabin was completed at just about the same time frame - they broke ground on the property and completed the foundation at Thanksgiving, 1948. While we have learned that the family that built our place drew their inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses - especially the Pope-Leighy house that was built a few years earlier in Falls Church, Virginia.  Although that is the case, the modernist features of expansive glass fenestration and open plan interior are common features of all three residences.

For today's post, I wanted to focus on the experience and photos of the house itself.  The next one will include a few photos of the interior and the other buildings on the site, which has been expanded by the National Historic Trust from the original 11 acres to now include about 200 acres of wooded property.

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