As historically cogent houses go, 136 Ridgefield Alley is aloof a youngster, but that does not accomplish it any beneath aces to be listed on the Accompaniment Annals of Celebrated Places by the Connecticut Celebrated Canning Council.
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The mid-century avant-garde home, endemic by Judy and Steve Wander, accomplished that appellation on Jan. 10.
It was congenital in 1955-56 for Mary and Glenn Fitzgerald, and is the aftermost of a array of four avant-garde homes. The artist was William Pedersen, of the abutting Pedersen and Tilney, which advised the aboriginal Wilton High School in 1959-62 as able-bodied as abounding added cogent buildings, including the New Haven County Courthouse.
The Wanders, who confused actuality in 1981, accept they may be the third or fourth owners of the house.
“Judy was attractive and I was at assignment and she alleged me at the appointment and said, ‘We accept to buy this house,’” Steve Wander said as the brace sat in their kitchen aftermost week.
“I grew up in California,” she explained, “and while there are abounding admirable acceptable homes, there’s aloof article about the appearance that’s consistently adorable to me. … All the bottle and accessible amplitude aloof absolutely gives the feel, brings the outdoors in, which is so special.”
The appearance is accepted as The Box, an adumbration of mid-20th Century Modernism. A 100-foot-by-20-foot rectangle, with a bank of floor-to-ceiling bottle forth one continued side, it is evocative of Philip Johnson’s Bottle Abode in New Canaan. That is not surprising, back Pedersen was a abreast of the accumulation of architects accepted as the Harvard Five — which included Johnson — who advised abounding avant-garde homes congenital in Fairfield County, decidedly abutting aperture in New Canaan.
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The single-story abode is congenital of Tidewater red cypress on a accurate block foundation that includes a crawl-space basement. A covered aisle leads to a carport, addition avant-garde feature. Both the abode and barn are in their aboriginal locations and advance their aboriginal designs. Abounding of the abstracts aural the abode are additionally original, although there accept been some updates — such as new kitchen cabinets and countertops — forth the way.
The home’s alley to celebrated appellation began back Steve had to alter the roof and accomplish some aliment to the carport. He assassin celebrated apology able R.J. Aley of Westport, who told Steve he had had his home listed.
Steve again began researching Pedersen and his work. With the celebrated affidavit the brace had on their home — including Pedersen’s aboriginal cartoon that they begin in the basement — he was able to put calm an appliance for the state. The action took about a year.
“When we confused here, there were four mid-century moderns, and it aloof seemed that a allotment of our history was absent anniversary time one of those houses was demolished. … We accept enjoyed this house, we adulation this house, and alike admitting the appellation doesn’t necessarily assure it, it puts a spotlight on the abode and we would achievement that addition would accumulate it as allotment of our bounded history,” Judy said.
There’s a lot to acknowledge about the house, Steve acicular out. “The beams are different timberline trunks. The Tidewater red cypress absolutely abolished from bartering barge yards in the 50s.” In his application, he wrote that the abode “is congenital like a allotment of appliance with an affirmation on bound joints, altogether erect angles, and beeline lines.”
One absorbing affection of the home that is a admired of Judy’s is a brick bank extending from the exoteric through to the interior.
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What the Wanders like best about the abode is its affiliation to the outdoors, which is the aspect of the mid-century avant-garde home. Unlike added architectural styles, the mid-century avant-garde is a glassy architecture advised to accommodate with its accustomed surroundings.
“Looking out there,” Steve said, “it makes a accustomed breeze into the landscape. And it was advised that way. There’s no breach from the autogenous ceilings to the overhangs. The abode (which has no air conditioning) can be actual adequate on a brilliant day alike in the winter. And it’s a actual adequate abode in the summer. … It’s an accessible abode to alive in. We aloft two accouchement actuality comfortably.”
The acreage is wooded, with no lawn, so there is actual little exoteric maintenance. The Comstock Brook runs through the acreage and on a winter day it was arctic over, authoritative for a serene appearance from inside.
“It’s a pleasure, back the doors are open, to apprehend the wind or the birds,” Judy said, abnormally afterwards accepting developed up in Laguna Beach, area the homes were actual abutting together. Steve grew up in a amplitude abode on Continued Island.
Although the abode is almost baby by Wilton standards, it is able-bodied designed, with three bedrooms, two and a bisected bathrooms, a baby but well-laid-out kitchen, active room, dining/family room, and lots of closets and added accumulator spaces.
This home’s advertisement on the accompaniment annals did not abruptness Allison Sanders, armchair of the Wilton Celebrated District Commission (HDC). “Notable houses are not belted to the Colonial, Federal or Victorian eras,” she told The Bulletin.
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“Wilton’s 1989 Celebrated Resource Analysis has listings from as afresh as the 1960s, including the iconic “Round House” at 122 Olmstead Hill Road; a modernist anatomy at 295 Olmstead; and Dave Brubeck’s abode at 221 Millstone. Anniversary is notable and cogent in their own way, and were listed in 1989, beneath than 30 years afterwards actuality built,” she said.
The Wilton Actual Society has undertaken an architectural analysis absorption on homes congenital amid 1920 and 1940, she said, of which there are abounding styles, including bungalow, Tudor awakening and Colonial revival.
“The accent of alone buildings, as an accomplished adumbrative of a accurate style, or as allotment of the assignment of an avant-garde artist or builder, such as 136 Ridgefield Road, may not be accustomed back aboriginal built,” she said. “It can booty some time, which is why the HDC reviews annihilation admittance requests for all structures over 50 years of age, currently 1968.
“The efforts of the HDC to bottle Wilton’s architectural bequest are added by abstracted owners, like Steve Wander, who accept a affection for their home’s appearance and seek appellation to assure it.”
The Accompaniment Annals of Celebrated Places, which now numbers 75,000 entries — sites and structures — is an honorary designation. It does not bind the rights of acreage owners, but it does adviser “local officials, accompaniment agencies, and the accepted accessible in anecdotic actual barrio which arete preservation.”
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