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Over the Moon and Under the Stars – 1960 Mid-Century Modern in Lambertville
Architects throughout the course of their careers design many masterworks for others, but often their pièce de résistance is the home they create for themselves. Such is the case for the previous home of the noted Mid-Century Modern architect Jules Gregory in Lambertville, NJ.
Designed and built by Gregory in 1960, the fabled home continues to attract attention, because its undulating, double-conoid roof that seems to hover in mid air, put a new spin on Mid-Century Modern design.
Gregory built the house with all natural materials, using fieldstone from the property for fireplaces and walls and Pacific Northwest white fir and pine from Colorado for the framing and wood paneling throughout the interior.
The interior walls are not full height or load bearing, emphasizing the impression that the ceiling is floating. Acoustic privacy was achieved by sheets of glass spanning the partition tops to the roof.
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The house sits on 10 wooded acres, that thanks to the enormous sheets of glass which serve as floor-to-ceiling windows and walls, nature is indeed brought inside.
With four bedrooms and two baths the 1,664 sq. ft. residence includes spacious living areas, including a sunken living room with stone walls and a fireplace. The home has stayed true to its original design with a few updates that have brought the kitchen and baths into the 21st century.
Many of the furnishings in the home were just as iconic as the house itself. All the lighting and furniture were designed and built by a pillar of mid-century modern design, George Nakashima, a friend of Gregory’s who conveniently happened to live and work nearby in New Hope, PA.
In 1960 the main house and a detached studio cost $30,000 to build. In 1961 the Gregory House was selected by Architectural Record Magazine as one of America’s best 10 houses.
The current owner Benjamin Storck, a very well known Mid-Century Modern furniture dealer is only the second person to hold the property. Storck bought the property sight unseen from one of Gregory’s daughters. “I couldn’t help it; it was an absolutely perfect setting for my collection.” In 1960 as his collection grew, he bought another house in Palm Springs that was custom designed by William Krisel for Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy.
At age 14 Storck began collecting 20th century art and design objects. Even more surprising than a 14-year-old collector is perhaps a 17-year-old vintage antique dealer, this is the age when he opened his first store. Recently graduated from high school, he was so young he had to have his parents cosign the lease.
Storck’s own personal style, ranges from late 19th century folk art to 21st century contemporary design with a special place in his heart for Mid-Century Modern. “For me,” He said, “it bridged a gap from some of the harder Art Deco lines and stuffy Victorian styles to a more streamlined, organic form.”
About a hundred yards away from the main house, across a stream and footbridge is Gregory’s 1,200 sq. ft. former studio with its linear lines and walls of glass that bring to mind Phillip Johnson’s iconic Glass House in New Canaan. Now a guesthouse, it has a kitchenette, open bedroom and a full bath. Its floors are burled cork and the handsome fireplace was designed by Paul Evans.
The Gregory house and guesthouse are located about 70 miles southwest of New York City and 35 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
Mid-Century Modern anything is on fire today. All across America houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner and Richard Neutra among others are thankfully being saved, land marked and preserved.