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Esto Gallery: A. Conger Goodyear House

Esto Gallery: A. Conger Goodyear House

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto

    Formally, the house fuses Miesian minimalism with the Prairie Style of Frank Lloyd Wright, evidenced in the house’s deep overhangs. Reflecting on the house’s eaves in his 1962 memoir, The Evolution of an Architect, Stone writes, “Not only is the overhanging eave an important practical consideration, but I find it aesthetically mandatory on a house with a flat roof, satisfying visually the desire for certain aspects of the pitched roof so long associated with residential architecture.”

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Defying the opinions of architectural experts, the Village of Old Westbury refused to grant the house landmark status. According to the World Monuments Fund’s website, “A bulldozer and a permit to raze the house were on-site at the time of the Watch announcement.”

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Architectural historian Caroline Rob Zaleski discovered that Stone was one of the few American architects to see Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion and to discuss the structure with its maker.

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Art served as a guiding principle for the design: a gallery for modern paintings functions as the house’s “spinal column,” as Stone writes in The Evolution of an Architect.

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    The cylindrical glass-walled dining room.

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Floor-to-ceiling glass walls look onto a wide lawn of fountains and sculptures.

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Once situated on 100 wooded acres, the south-facing hilltop house now sits on a five-acre plot.

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    “Mr. Goodyear had, through a long period, collected excellent paintings, china, glass and period furniture which we combined with modern furniture. It all looked beautiful together, for well-designed things are harmonious regardless of their epoch. I had heeded Mr. Luce's admonishment about simple arithmetic—not only did I meet Mr. Goodyear's budget, but there was twenty-five dollars left over.” –Edward Durell Stone, The Evolution of an Architect

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, told The New York Times, “It's one of the few great International Style houses by an American architect of the 1930s. It's a great country house as well and surprisingly luxurious in a Busby Berkeley-meets-Bauhaus kind of way.”

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    A. Conger Goodyear House, Old Westbury, N.Y.
    Edward Durell Stone
    Photographer: Ezra Stoller © Esto


    “The idea that architecture is something that can only be appreciated by a minuscule minority of precious initiates is all wrong. I think anybody would agree that Chartres is a beautiful thing. I think everybody really is thrilled with the interior of Grand Central Station. I think great architecture, people should sense and feel.” –Edward Durell Stone, 1963, in John Peter’s The Oral History of Modern Architecture

In a Long Island, N.Y., village called Old Westbury, at the end of a long drive lined with Gatsby-like Georgian manses, stands a glass-walled International Style house that still looks like the future. Edward Durell Stone, best remembered as the architect of Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, designed the house as a weekend retreat for industrialist and art collector A. Conger Goodyear, who founded the Museum of Modern Art and served as its first president (the two first worked together on the museum’s designs).

 

Though the residence is revered as a landmark structure—The New Yorker’s architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, called it “one of the most important houses built in the United States between the two world wars”—until last month it had not been inhabited since Goodyear’s death in 1964. In the 1970s, the Goodyear family donated it to the New York Institute of Technology, which sold it in 1997 to a Long Island developer. The developer’s plans to level the 6,000-square-foot house and build mansions on four-acre plots was thwarted by the World Monuments Fund, which placed the house on its 2002 watch list of endangered properties. With funding from the Barnett Newman Foundation, among others, the organization bought the estate in 2005. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Modernist house has changed owners several times in the past six years; most recently, real estate developer and art collector Aby Rosen purchased it in October. (If you're in the market, one of the only remaining Stone houses in Washington, D.C., is currently listed at Sotheby's for $6.9 million.)

 

Here we feature the Old Westbury residence during the Goodyear era, as photographed in 1941 by Esto’s Ezra Stoller.

 

ARCHITECT's recurring gallery of images are provided by Esto, the photography agency specializing in architecture and design with a library of over 140,000 images.