On the Market: A Lake Champlain ‘Glass House’ by Iconic Architect Philip Johnson
This mid-century modern escape near the Vermont border is only one of 12 residential glass homes in the United States.
314 Point Rd., Willsboro, NY
Size: 3,812 square feet
Bathrooms: 6 full
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If you don’t know the name Philip Johnson, you should. The “dean of American architects,” as memorialized by the New York Times, he created a deeply influential body of 20th-century work that includes the Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden, the Dumbarton Oaks Museum’s Pre-Columbian Gallery in Washington, DC, and the Boston Public Library’s Johnson Building. One of Johnson’s most legendary designs is the Glass House, a sprawling estate in the New Canaan, Connecticut woods that ushered a new era of midcentury-modern architecture into the area. And now one of his Glass House lookalikes is for sale near the Vermont border.
Johnson crafted the Glass House in 1949. Around that same time, the Harvard School of Design graduate was creating the Glass House, he was also working on a commission by the New York-Vermont line A home on the western shores of Lake Champlain, the work was a collaboration with fellow architect and “Harvard Five” member Landis Gores, who crafted the home’s drawings—which are now on file at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University—under Johnson’s direction.
Named after the person who commissioned it, the Paine House was one of the first inspired by Johnson’s New Canaan Glass House work—and only one of 12 residential glass homes in the United States, according to JoAnna Giltner, a broker with Covered Bridge Realty representing the abode’s sellers. The commissioning couple divorced before moving in, so the structure was sold to a family from Montreal who owned the home for over 50 years; the property was endowed to the Canadian and American Council for Reformed Judaism, which sold it to the current owners in 2006.
Despite all the years and changes of hands, the Paine House maintains some of the same early modernist style that made Johnson so iconic. The glass walls remain a key design feature, offering a sprawling panorama of the 20 acres of land (and 850 feet of lakefront access) that make up the grounds.
The home is split into wings. On one end, there’s an updated chef’s kitchen that still retains its original soapstone counters and steel sinks. On the other, there are two bedrooms that each have a full bathroom. There’s also a “summer wing” attached to the house through an open-air walkway, which holds six bedrooms and four full bathrooms. More recent updates to the property include a new membrane roof and stone retaining walls, plus a storage outhouse with a game room. There’s even a dock and boat launch ramp for easy access to the lake.
The Paine House never received the same publicity as Johnson and Gores’ other works, overshadowed by more popular projects like the Glass House. But perhaps in its new chapter under a new owner, the property will find the renown it deserves. No matter, it’s still a killer lake house—and that alone seems worth the asking price.
For more information, contact JoAnna Giltner, Covered Bridge Realty, coveredbridgerealty.net.
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