Saturday, June 20, 2009
Shipshape as Any Seagoing Cabin
Sometime after eight last night we took a walk down Louse Point Road, the road just around the corner from ours. At twilight, the Lewis House--as it was once known--looked almost as it looked above, fifty-five years ago when it was featured in American Home. The tide was so high that the house practically floated above water. Fireflies blinked in the grasses. It's typically a little less poetic these days. Scrubby plants block the view of the bay from the road, but the original structure's intact, remarkable when you consider what some might have done. Apparently blueprints of the house were offered for sale in the back of the magazine, and several versions were built all over the country. As the editors said, "The plan is ideal for a Shangri-La anywhere."
Below, a passage about the house from Weekend Utopia. And a "Now" photo I took a couple of weekends ago.
from Weekend Utopia
Three years after Holiday magazine had presented its answer to the perfect weekend house, the magazine American Home carried a feature story about another kind of experiment in living. On the cover of its July 1954 issue was the image of a house perched precariously on stilts. The Lewis House was built right at the water's edge in the Springs, on a narrow whisker of sand called Louse Point that runs between Accabonac Harbor on one side and Gardiner's Bay on the other. The photograph, taken, by Paul Weller, was shot during an exceptionally high tide, and it made the house look like a boat moored to its site. Here was a kind of weekend sublime realized--a true "adventure in living," with the waters of the bay lapping right at the front door. Here there was no longer a question of the house being positioned to take advantage of the view. In this case, the house became the view.
As the editors explained, it was a "crow's nest of a house, perched on piers." Its architect, Robert Rosenberg, had been a naval architect during the war, and he made the structure "seaworthy" by resting it on concrete piers that had been cast directly in the water. The main living area was only 20-by-20 feet square and could be divided in half by a sliding wall on tracks. There was a small master bedroom and a kitchen with an open counter. An "eight passenger" bunkhouse was attached to the back of the house with sleeping quarters for the Lewis children and weekend guests. Each of the four tiny bunkrooms was equipped with surplus Navy bunks--"simple, and easy to keep shipshape as any seagoing cabin."