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Modern Love

Mid-century living in Pound Ridge



The story my late mother-in-law told about how my wife and I came to live in the first modern house in Pound Ridge starts in the late 1940s, in Marcel Breuer’s New Canaan house, with a guidebook by the Museum of Modern Art. Breuer, the modernist master, rented his house to two couples he knew from Manhattan, Muriel and Joseph Hinerfeld and Helen and Gene Federico. Helen was Muriel’s sister; Helen and Gene eventually became my in-laws.

Like many young people after World War II, they were progressive, optimistic, and focused on what was to come, not what they had lived through. In a word, modernist. From Breuer’s house they searched for their own modern houses, helped by the Museum of Modern Art Guide to Modern Architecture: Northeast States. Under Pound Ridge, it said: “House for Mrs. Bertram F. Willcox, Trinity Pass Rd. Moore & Hutchins, architects, 1939.” The Hinerfelds bought it. 

The Federicos bought land on Eastwoods Road, and with a Chicago architect—Leroy Binkley, a student of Mies van der Rohe—they designed their own modern house. The Hinerfelds eventually left the Willcox house to the Federicos’ daughters, Gina and Lisa. Gina and I moved in and have raised our two children here.

Today, Breuer’s town—New Canaan—has rightly become known as a mecca of mid-century modern architecture. Its National Register of Historic Places district includes approximately 90 modern houses, and its modern heritage is celebrated by the New Canaan Historical Society. 

Pound Ridge, with a population one quarter of New Canaan’s, has almost half as many moderns—about 42, by my count. The town’s mid-century modern history is far less well-known though, and no modern houses have been designated local landmarks.

Mid-century modern houses are characterized by flat or gently pitched roofs, modest size, efficient use of interior space, rejection of ornamentation for its own sake, expansive windows for a connection with the outdoors, and sensitivity to the environmental conditions of the building site. All of these preferences are incorporated into 21st-century modern-style houses, as well.

Where Pound Ridge does not compare to New Canaan is in the concentration of renowned architects. New Canaan has houses by Philip Johnson, Elliot Noyes, and John Johannsen, in addition to Marcel Breuer. None of those giants are represented—to my knowledge—in Pound Ridge. 

Moore & Hutchins, the architects of our house, were known for designing schools. In the 1930s, the firm won a competition to be architect and master planner for Goucher College, near Baltimore (the great modernist Eero Saarinen finished second). It also designed Fox Lane High School in 1956.

William M. Breger (Hunter house, Horseshoe Hill Road) was architecture chairman at Pratt Institute and a student of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. David Henken (Medvecky house, Salem Road) learned under Frank Lloyd Wright. 

The best-known modern architect represented in Pound Ridge is probably Edward Larrabee Barnes, who designed the Straus house on Eastwoods Road. Built in 1958 and covering 6,800 square feet, it is likely the town’s largest modern house and is visible from the road, cantilevered over a lake. Barnes also designed the Katonah Museum of Art, among many notable works.

William Straus, a 20th-century antiques dealer based in Goldens Bridge, grew up in that house and considers it “one of the greatest 20th-century houses in America.” His father, John Straus, worked closely with Barnes on the design.

The house had a lasting effect on him, he says. But it was more than just the house: in his family’s Pound Ridge circle, modern houses were a manifestation of a modern sensibility. The circle included the Federicos, who were art directors in Manhattan; novelist Evan Hunter and his then-wife, Anita; and Bob Gage, also a Madison Avenue art director, and his wife, Fay. “They were all modernists,” William Straus says. “Their houses were part of the aesthetic of living in Pound Ridge.”

Pound Ridge’s hot spot is Eastwoods Road, with nine mid-century moderns. I’m partial to the Federico house, not only for the obvious reasons but also for its warmth, simple beauty, and connection to the landscape. And like the modern house we live in, if it hadn’t been for Marcel Breuer and his rental, I would never have known of it either.

 

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January 2019

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy based on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech by creating a mobile that expresses your own dreams—for yourselves and your community. Each...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Drop in for help with any of your technology devices.  No appointment necessary.  First come first served.   PC, Google, Microsoft savvy volunteer with help you with troubleshooting,...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Come be a paleontologist for the day and create a dinosaur of your own imagination out of cardboard and tissue paper. Materials will be provided.  Ages 4 to 11 (under 5 with caregiver)Sponsored...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Sponsor: Friends of the Library
Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM Create a cool yarn hat in a single evening! All materials will be provided. This event is free and no registration is required. Ages 12 and up. Hosted by North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

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Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
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Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

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The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
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