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Own a Piece of Modern History

Here’s a unique opportunity to own one of the more important mid-century homes to come on the market in the last few years: Philip Johnson’s Alice Ball house on Oenoke Ridge. I went to see it recently and, let me tell you, it’s beautiful.

When you get out of the car it’s not immediately clear where you’re supposed to go. Where’s the front door? I liked having to figure it out. I found the path and ended up at a huge double glass door flanked by large windows, which led straight into an open living room with stone floors.  A fireplace was off to the left and a partial wall to the right, hiding (sort of) the kitchen. But the most stunning thing was that as you walked into the living room, you still felt as if you were outside, because the rear wall of the house is all glass, and the stone floors continue outdoors as the patio. It is very clever. The interior is stark and white, with no moldings at all. The kitchen is also white and all original. Considering that it was built fifty-seven years ago, I found that pretty remarkable.

There are two bedrooms in the main house. You have to see the hall bathroom – it is tiled entirely in slate and is very dramatic. What vision Johnson had! A second bathroom was added, but it was done tastefully and in keeping with the style of the house.

The two bedrooms open onto a beautiful little garden with a pond and winding paths. Walk past the pond and you’ll find another addition, again architecturally correct.  Here is another bedroom and bathroom, currently being used as a home studio.

The current owner has development approval for an 11,000 square foot house to be built at the rear of the property, which would leave the Alice Ball home intact and safe from the wrecker's ball.

Philip Johnson (1906 – 2005) was one of the most influential American architects, and he was a resident of New Canaan for many years. His Glass House , now part of the National Historic Trust, is his most famous residence. The Alice Ball house would be much easier to live in as there is more privacy -- but equally stunning and a must-see for anyone who wants to buy a piece of American architectural history.

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