10 November 2009

The Tear-Down Risk

My gut reaction is that people exaggerate the risk that beautiful modern houses will be torn down. The Brown House in Guilford, Connecticut, for example, which I wrote about yesterday and which was designed in 1950 by E. Carleton Granbery. It's a beautiful house on a nice spot overlooking Long Island Sound and the Thimble Islands. Who would tear it down?

But it's not so far-fetched and my gut reaction is probably wrong. Anstress Farwell, the urban design aficionado from New Haven who knows the house and the neighborhood well, wrote to me yesterday with the news that right next door to the Brown house was another mid-century modern designed by Granbery. It's gone, she said, "demolished a few years ago by Tom Coville, an art dealer."

Farwell not only knows the neighborhood and the house but she knew the Browns. Here's what she wrote to me:

I lived there almost every year for twenty plus years - whenever Betty and Ralph took a trip. So I know it in all seasons and times. It's a wonderful place. She was exquisitely perceptive about light, and she framed views and choose colors to create a number of subtle atmospheres in the house. She always wanted the play of color outdoors to dominate. -- ta

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