On the Market / A mid-century modern gem listed in New Canaan
NEW CANAAN — Renowned architect William F. Pedersen’s firm designed the Hall of Minerals and Gems at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that Pedersen was also behind the design of a residential gem at 31 Chichester Road.
Actually, this 2,802-square-foot signature mid-century modern house, built in 1956, resembles an elegant jewel box, and yet it also has influences of Frank Lloyd Wright with its less formal style and its deliberate design to give its residents the feeling of living outside. The windows are large and numerous to bring in copious amounts of natural light, even in this private, treed setting.
“This timeless treasure was designed to create a flowing and light filled environment. Every room offers serene views of the tranquil property,” according to the listing agent.
The late Pedersen, a resident of New Canaan, and senior partner in William F. Pedersen & Associates in Manhattan and New Haven, was not a member of New Canaan’s famed Harvard Five, although he was a graduate of Harvard and he belonged to the Harvard Club of New York. He also belonged to the Century Association and was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, according to his obituary, published in the New York Times on Dec. 29, 1990. It also points out that “In 1960, the firm won a competition for a memorial to honor President Franklin D. Roosevelt,” although the project was never completed because of difficulties raising the necessary public and federal funding.
The Beaven W. Mills House is in good company. Chichester Road is a location known for its mid-century modern homes, although the one designed by Pedersen is the only one on this road listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A plaque identifying it as such is visible at the front entrance. Despite that distinction, the owners of this house are not restricted by any particular rules. They can renovate or alter the house as they wish, although why anyone would want to is beyond comprehension. This is a special house in a special setting. It sits at the top of a one-acre level and sloping property. The openness of its floor plan allows it to function perfectly for day-to-day living and for entertaining.
Travel up the driveway, where ample parking exists for residents and many guests, and from there enter the house at the lower level, in front of which is a bluestone patio, or climb the wide slate steps, passed an attractive rock garden, to the front door. As one enters the front door that person feels immediately as if they are back outside, so large is the picture window in the foyer. It looks out upon a second bluestone patio and the wooded grounds.
All of the rooms feature walls of glass and high ceilings. One wing of the house comprises the great room with the living and dining spaces and the Poggenpohl kitchen. “Founded in 1892 in the heart of Germany, Poggenpohl is the oldest and best-known kitchen brand in the world. From that day to this, we have followed the vision of our founder, Friedemir Poggenpohl, who set out to ‘improve the kitchen’ … transforming it from a humble backroom into a living space that’s at the heart of the home,” according to the brand’s website.
This chef’s kitchen opens to the expansive living and dining spaces. It features a large center island, black granite counters, a marble backsplash, and high-end stainless appliances including a six-burner range. Between the living and dining areas there is a two-sided fireplace. It is oriented in such a way that by opening the door to the patio one can sit outside and still enjoy its ambience.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Mid-Century Modern
ADDRESS: 31 Chichester Road
FEATURES: landmark house on the National Register of Historic Places, one-acre level and sloping property, terrace, free-standing screened porch, Poggenpohl kitchen, one two-sided fireplace, skylights, workshop, two-car carport, partially finished walk-out basement; proximity to Irwin Park, downtown New Canaan and the Metro North train station; four bedrooms, three full baths
SCHOOLS: West Elementary, Saxe Middle, New Canaan High School
MILL RATE: 16.96 mills
At the other end of the house there are three bedrooms, all of which allow their occupants to go to sleep surrounded by nature and wake up to spectacular wooded views. The master suite has two closets that could actually be eliminated to increase the size of the room if necessary, because there is a large walk-in cedar closet that would suffice for clothing organization and would also serve as a dressing room. The hallway features several doors that would allow the rooms to remain private suites or open so that guests could access the bathrooms during parties and holiday gatherings.
On the lower level there is a study or office and the fourth bedroom; the two rooms share a Jack-and-Jill-style full bath. There is also ample storage available on this walk-out level.
A separate outside screened “room” near the upper patio offers a charming space to enjoy outdoor relaxing and entertaining.
This house is not far from Irwin Park, downtown New Canaan, and the Metro North train station, the latter of which is less than 1.5 miles away.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Fran Snelwar of Halstead Real Estate at 203-253-6388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.