Perched atop the rocky coast of New London, CT, and seemingly at the base of the iconic New London Harbor Light, the “Castle House” stands as one of the most significant examples of 1960s residential design in a state known for such homes. The Castle House was completed in 1964 from plans by German-born American architect Ulrich Franzen (1921-2012), who attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Design after his service in WWII. After graduating, Franzen worked under I.M. Pei, until he formed his own firm, Ulrich Franzen & Associates, in 1955. The home’s signature element is its dramatic free-floating glass living room pavilion with cantilevered paraboloid vaults and flanking service wings, with a jaw-dropping cypress butterfly ceiling. Additionally, the oval pool sits over the harbor water and provides the best possible views of the 1801 lighthouse towering above. The house was recently updated by SchappacherWhite, a design firm who are known for their thoughtful Mid-Century Modern house preservation projects.
The George Kaplan House, erected in 1946, is an excellent and exceptionally well preserved example of the International Style in the Boston area. The home is located on a suburban road in Oak Hill, Newton, and displays characteristics such as strong geometric forms, a flat roof, banded windows interspersed with expanses of blank walls and absence of ornament. The Kaplan House was designed by Walter Gropius‘ firm ‘The Architect’s Collaborative’ (TAC) of Cambridge, which was founded just one year prior, and this home was their first completed project. The home was built for George and Ethel Kaplan, a young couple who moved here from Brookline. Kaplan worked in design himself and manufactured shoe fabrics.
Occupying the highest elevation (315 feet) in Newton, Massachusetts Baldpate Hill and its residential development encompasses perhaps the largest concentration of architect-designed custom homes from the 1940-1960 period
in the city. Newton realtor Arnold Hartmann purchased large land holdings in the minimally developed Oak Hill village, developed some land into the Newton Country Club and other areas for suburban neighborhoods. He laid out building lots on Baldpate Hill from 1926 to the late 1950s, and many of the homes were built after WWII. One of the later homes built is this house, built in 1959 from plans by the architectural firm of Hoover & Hill of Cambridge. The home features a low-slung roof with the home in a Ranch form, yet extends to two stories as the hill drops off at the rear of the home. A small garden is located in the front yard, and terraced yard is located at the rear.
Cape Elizabeth is full of amazing late-19th and early-20th century summer cottages, but one of the best examples of early International-style architecture can also be found here! This house was designed by Marcel Breuer, one of the most famous architects working in the International Style in the mid- 20th century. The house plays on the traditionally New England vocabulary, but Breuer, a proponent of the Bauhaus Movement, turned it on its head. The house appears to emerge from its ‘ancient’ fieldstone foundation towards the street and levitates over the hilly landscape, supported by light columns. The house originally was painted a shade of white, common in the International style, but a later owner preferred the natural wood finish. The home is one of the most significant examples of the style in New England, and an uncommon example in Maine.
Located across the street from each other in Brookline, the Pastan Houses are an excellent example of how architectural tastes can change from one generation to another. The William Pastan House was constructed in 1936, and is Tudor Revival in style. The home has a projecting square entry tower with castellated roofline and interesting mixture of materials and textures. The first owner, William Pastan raised his family in the home, attending the synagogue a couple blocks away. By 1963, Pastan’s son, Harvey became a successful engineer and built a home near his parents for his own family, though in a very different aesthetic. The Modern home features boxy forms, prominent covered parking spaces, and expanses of glass.
Which house would you prefer, William’s (1936) or Harvey’s (1963)?
Tucked away on an un-assuming side street in South Brookline, you will find this oddly fascinating home. Without architectural history knowledge, you may think it is just a normal 1940s house, but it’s actually a Lustron House! Between 1948 and 1950, the Lustron Corp. built prefabricated metal homes across the U.S. as part of an effort to combat the housing shortage for returning soldiers post–World War II. Despite these futuristic homes being considered low-maintenance and highly durable, only about 2,500 were constructed, as the structures were seen as too costly and complex to manufacture and assemble. The homes came in just three models and came in four available colors: “Surf Blue,” “Dove Gray,” “Maize Yellow,” and “Desert Tan”. The home is covered in porcelain enamel metal panels set into a steel frame which can be replaced when damaged. At the interior, the homes had metal-paneled interior walls with mostly pocket-doors for space saving. This home in Brookline was built for Edmond and Helen Jennings, in the Westchester model in the Desert Tan color. The only major alteration is the enclosure of the porch, but it retains a high degree of integrity from when it was assembled in 1949.
What do you think of this iconic 1940s home and style?
Built in 1935 (the same year as the Webber House in the last post), the Melnick House in South Brookline shows how the historically oriented designs of colonial New England converged with the Modern principles brought over from the Bauhaus movement from Germany. The 1930s were an interesting time for residential design around Boston as the two diverging styles were often located in the same neighborhoods. The Melnick House was designed by architect Samuel Glaser for Edward S. T. Melnick and his wife, Ethyle Melnick. Edward worked in Downtown Boston as the assistant division manager at Filene’s department store. Architect Samuel Glaser (1902-1983) was born in Riga, Latvia and at the age of four came to the United States with his family, settling in Brookline. He studied architecture at MIT and started his own practice in Boston a niche as a designer of moderately priced homes, particularly in the expanding suburbs where young Jewish families had begun living. The Melnick home combines the austere stucco walls and lack of applied ornament typical of late 1930s Modern architecture in the Boston area with a hipped-roof main block and flanking wings more commonly associated with traditional style houses of the same period. The home features a vertical glass block window which illuminates the interior stair hall.
Built into the side of Fisher Hill, this Mid-Century Modern home in Brookline depicts the sleek lines and materiality synonymous with the style. The home was designed by the architectural firm of Arthur H. Cohen and Abraham J. Goldberg, which lasted only a few years and was completed by 1961. Abraham Pollen, an eye doctor, and namesake of the Arthur Pollen Archives at Mass. Eye and Ear, resided in the Modern home for most of his professional life. Vertical glass panels and tongue and groove boards with batten strips characterize the home along with the prominent garage entries facing the street.