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Thursday, November 16, 2006

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 16 Minute Man Hill

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Westport building officials are currently reviewing a demolition application for the house at 16 Minute Man Hill. The house, deisgned by famed architect Paul Rudolph and built in 1973, is in the Compo Beach area. The property is 1.42 acres and the house has 3,336 feet of living space, according to town records. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 11/16/06 at 11:29 AM


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Another architectural gem is about to bite the dust!  This house was designed by Paul Rudolph when he was the dean of Architecture at Yale.  It was built for Dr. and Mrs Louis J. Micheels probably in the early 1970s.  I hope it can be saved.  If this trend continues, we are in danger of losing most of the architecturally significant houses in our community.

Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on November 16, 2006 at 04:43 PM | #

I agree…..it’s one thing to lose generic ranch houses, but to lose something like this house to what will inevitably be another tacky supersize McMansion is tragic.

Posted by Jeff Kiker on November 16, 2006 at 05:07 PM | #

This is shocking.  This is a structure of international architectural significance.  Citizens: Write/call The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, write/call DOCOMOMO US, ([email protected] or e-mail Theo Prudon at: [email protected], 212-721-9502).  Write Robert Stern, Dean of the Architecture School at Yale, Stern will use his influence.  Also write the Society of Architectural Historians, the American Institute of Architects (both the Connecticut chapter and the national chapter).  And call the Westport Historic District Commission and ask them to get to work on this.

Another house by Rudolph, located in Watch Hill, Rhode Island is about to be demolished.  There are people with means who would love to own this house, how did it get in the wrong hands?

Michael Glynn
Michael Glynn Architects
e-mail: [email protected]

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 12:46 AM | #

Where have you guys been?  This house was on the market for a year and a half.  Everyone with “the means” had a chance to buy it!  It’s a great house.  It is sad that noone came along and was willing to spend about $5,000,000 to buy it and fix it up.  The house had to be sold eventually.  I’m sure that the new owners will build something tasteful.

Anne Tetenbaun

Posted by Anne Tetenbaum on November 17, 2006 at 06:08 PM | #

Well, the fact that nobody knew about it shows that the marketing of this property was terribly inadequate.  If it had been advertised as a property of international architectural significance, and if the architectural community (nationally) had known about it, I think the chances are good that “people of means” who had the knowledge and taste to understand the house would have surfaced quickly.  To say that it will be replaced with something tasteful is missing the point by a thousand miles.  I detect that you may have been involved in the sale, it that is the case, don’t you think it would be appropriate to reveal that Ms. Tentenbaum?

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 07:08 PM | #

It is my opinion that what Anne reports is closer to reality for many of the teardowns.  If no one wants the house as it is, then it has no value.  A painting by Picasso has value because people spend real money to own it.

Also, perhaps this house has an older kitchen, but in order to renovate, they must upgrade the septic system, or other expensive upgrades required to bring the building up to code.  And all of these extra expenses don’t increase the value of the house.
Whereas the return on investment for tearing it down and rebuilding is fantastic.

Posted by Dan Lasley on November 17, 2006 at 07:11 PM | #

Is everything just about money, is there no criteria in Westport besides the God Mamon?  Tearing down this work of art by one of the handful of the most important architects of the 20th century is the moral equivilent of robbing the Museum of Archeology in Bagdad.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 07:29 PM | #

Debating demolition of this property could really rally-challenge the strength of this town’s appreciation of the arts and personal property rights.  Hopefully, as with the Abel Bradley home, the town’s character will succeed.  Hopefully, too, this will be done in a manner that curbs government, whether that be local, state or federal agencies, intervention in private property matters.

Posted by Susan Farley on November 17, 2006 at 07:57 PM | #

Government will have no roll in this.  Changing the fate of this house is in the hands of the public.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 08:26 PM | #

I would think it somewhat uncomfortable for Mr Rudolph to have his preferred style of design called “brutalism”.  Unique - yes.  Important?  Valuable?  There are those who would disagree, including some art students at Yale. (ref Wikipedia - not authoritative, but interesting).

I don’t know anyone, anywhere, who buys or sells a house without considering the financial consequences.  Most of us consider it an important asset and hope that its value continues to grow.

Posted by Dan Lasley on November 17, 2006 at 09:50 PM | #

I would ask those same students - and the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture whether they would be indifferent to the destruction of this work.  Of course money figures in everything, but it seems to me that it is not an either/or situation.  The preservation of this house need not involve loss of money to anyone involved.  It could be saved and the seller could make money.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 10:19 PM | #

I had nothing to do with the sale of this house.  I’m just an interested neighbor.  I wanted to buy it and fix it up!  I tried to get friends to buy it and make repairs.  I love this house! 

I heard that Robert Stern did know about the house, Michael.

Posted by Anne Tetenbaum on November 17, 2006 at 10:35 PM | #

I apologize, I mistakenly read indifference in you comments.
I wish I had known about the house earliar, perhaps I could have found a buyer.  But I do not live in Westport, and apparently the house was not widely advertised, so I and others in the architectural community did not know about the threat.  It is a shame that the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation did not get involved.  I have helped save a couple significant modern houses from possible destruction (one by Marcel Breuer, another by Henry Hebbeln with landscape by James Rose).  In both these cases, the real estate agent had no idea what the houses were and therefore they sat unsold for a very long time and were being marketed as tear-downs.  Once the word got out about their provenance, both houses found buyers who bought them, restored them and lived happily ever after.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 17, 2006 at 10:54 PM | #

I am deeply saddened to learn this wonderful work of modern architecture by Paul Rudolph is to be demolished. I was aware this house was for sale; the seller’s agent sent a bruchure to me in Florida a year or two ago. At that time I went online to see pictures of the house and it was photographed well. The fact that it was a great work of architecture was highlighted, not hidden. It looked better maintained than it does in the pictures here. However, I did not read or see any articles or advertisements about the house in national or international newspapers, magazines or other media that might bring the house to the attention of qualified architecture buyers. I do not know what marketing techniques were used nor how effective they were. Occasionally I hear from owners of these houses but in this case I did not. I am sorry I did not encounter anyone interested in purchasing a house in Westport - my buyers are usually dreaming of palm trees and a tropical environment.

Here in Sarasota, we have a body of work called the “Sarasota School of Architecture” and Paul Rudolph was our brightest star. His houses were not the brutalist concrete-bunker style buildings that fell out of favor for a while, they were (and are) surprisingly delicate spaces, full of light and still awe-inspiring, glorious works of art.

I used to think automatically that “greedy developer-buyers” or unenlightened real estate agents were to blame when an important work of architecture was destroyed. But now that I have worked hard to save a number of good houses here in Sarasota, I have learned that ultimately it is the seller that accepts an offer to purchase their home. Unless a seller puts in place agreements, historic designations and other protective barriers and chooses to work with a real estate agent that has the knowledge (and the means) to reach out in a variety of ways to qualified prospects internationally, it becomes very hard for a high priced property like this one to change hands successfully. If a seller prices their home too high and the property does not appraise up to that level, many buyers renegotiate the price or bail. People who have the means to purchase these houses don’t necessarily choose to pay cash for them. Interest rates are still low, and many times it is advantageous to not pay cash. Anyway, if a house is priced way above its appraised value interested buyers won’t even look unless or until the price drops. Another devastating factor is the incredible pressure placed on waterfront land recently. When the land is worth more as dirt than with the house,  you’ve got a tough sell, indeed. 

In Sarasota, I have watched a number of good houses sold as “tear-downs” by agents on behalf of remaining family members (or attorneys in charge of deceased parents’ estates). It becomes about getting the most money possible on behalf of their clients. Sadly, it is rare that remaining family members band together and insist upon waiting for the proper owners to be found, or agree to “take less” so the right buyer can afford to make repairs. Sellers who “just want the most money possible” quietly put houses on the market hoping the property sells before preservationists (or prospective architecture buyers who might offer them less) get wind of it. Pictures of houses are avoided in these situations and waterviews are shown instead.

I have learned the best way to save these houses is to buy them yourself and restore them, or convince a seller to take the time to find the right buyer. It can be done and it is done regularly here in Sarasota. It is an expensive marketing project. Important works of architecture here in Sarasota do not bring any more money per square foot than the house next door to it. If a seller intends to tear a house down or to price the house so high that no one will come look at it, I have to make a business decision, too - and in my case I cannot afford to work with them. 

How interested are you? Can you purchase this house yourself? If not, do you have the will and the time to set up a non profit to receive houses like these when they are to be torn down? Setting up a way for new owners to be a hero by donating the structure (and receive a tax benefit for doing so) might sound distasteful but it is one way to save these houses. When these houses come available you have to be ready, with cash, land, house movers, contractors to jump in and do the work. Usually there is a small window of time and once in a while you can actually pull it off.

I worked with others to create an architectural foundation to receive donated houses and create scholarly yet fun architectural tours and events that bring people together to learn about and explore these important houses, celebrate them. Have we been successful? At times. At times not. Recently our school board, the largest owner of “sarasota school” structures in the county, voted to tear down Riverview High School, designed by Paul Rudolph. The school was badly maintained by the Sarasota School Board. Sarasota High School, also by Rudolph, is most likely next. 

If you want to learn more about the Sarasota School of Architecture and take a free architectural driving tour, come to my website at modernsarasota.com - also you can see pictures of the Cohen House, by Paul Rudolph, which I restored with the help of Bert Brosmith and Sam Holladay of Seibert Architects.

I am sorry I have not been much help in this situation. Please accept my best wishes, and keep me posted. I so admire your interest and your passion.  All my best,  Martie Lieberman [email protected]

Posted by Martie Lieberman on November 20, 2006 at 06:38 AM | #

Thank you Martie for taking the time to describe your productive efforts in finding buyers for Modern houses.
This should get widely distributed to Westporters - and especially brokers (one of whom, one would hope, will have the ambition to duplicate your efforts up here).  Most of the preservation battles in Westport have involved the destruction of 18th and 19th century houses (and barns).  (Even one late 17th century house was buldozed.)  You would be shocked to see what has been destroyed since the development boom attracted out of town development companies with big money.  The town is being transformed, it’s character has been seriously eroded.  And it seems to pick up in pace every year.

I’m sure that many distinquished Modern houses have been lost, but since most of these houses are located in the woods, their destruction is not as obvious as that of the early houses and outbuildings that front on the roads.  The town should do an inventory of worthy Modern houses as a first step in a public discussion of ways to preserve the ones that measure up to standards of architectural significance.  There should be a way for owners of these houses to see that they are not destroyed when sold.  The town could give some tax relief to owners (especially the elderly) who would give preservation easements that would make the properties unappealing to real estate developers. 

As of right now, the future of the town is in the sticky grip developers who have no interest in anything but building the maximum size house for the maximum size profit.  It is a sad state indeed.

Perhaps the threat to the Rudolph house will lead to some reforms, but recent history shows that the town officials are quite timid.  Money talks.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 20, 2006 at 09:00 PM | #

Dear Chris,

You raise a good point and it would be great if the HDC would be able to find a way to protect this house.  They are a very dedicated group of people and I am sure they will do whatever they can.

I do want to point out some facts on the Gorham Avenue issue.
The Gorham Avenue Historic District, is a “Historic” district not an “Architectural” district.  It was certified as such by the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council (part of the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism) on May 3rd 2006.  It was then subsequently voted to be established by the vast majority of owners in the District and finally approved by the RTM unanimously (as you know, Thanks.)

As I am not an architect, I cannot comment on the “architectural significance” of the Gorham Avenue neighborhood (although I think it is a pretty nice looking place.)  I can only refer anyone that is interested to the Study Report commissioned by the Westport Historic District Commission and approved by the state Historic Preservation Council.  That report does discuss the architecural significance of the District as a whole as well as each individual contributing property.  If anyone would like a copy of that report, please email me at [email protected]


PS.  In celebration of the ending of the P&Z hearing on the Redcoat Condo application on Gorham and Main, the Gorham Neighbors are inviting the town to join us at an Ice Skating Party at 5 PM on Saturday December 2 at the PAL rink at Longshore.  Admission is free but we will be accepting contributions to help us defray the considerable legal expenses we have incurred (and continue to incur) as we fight this precedent-setting development.  Should you have any questions about this please email [email protected] We look forward to seeing everyone at Longshore on Saturday the 2nd at 5 PM.

Posted by John McCarthy on November 23, 2006 at 01:13 PM | #

I see a real need to establish some sort of inventory of properties either of artchitectural or historical significance that the town would like to protect.While I know such a list exists, obviously it is in need of re-evaluation. Perhaps the currect owners of these houses could be invited to be part of a protected group, and could be offered some sort of incentive, such as tax reduction on a permament basis. This would follow the houses as long as a “non demolition” clause remained part of any sales contract.  This incentive would have to be significant in order to offset, somehwat, the lost revenue from a developer-tear down sale.
I think the loss of this house is a misfortune for the entire town.
Mary Ruggiero

Posted by mary ruggiero on November 24, 2006 at 01:57 PM | #

Are there any realtors in this area who, like this Martie Lieberman in Florida, specialize in houses of this sort of ‘architectural significance’, incl. period and type?

Posted by Susan Farley on November 25, 2006 at 08:49 PM | #

No realtors whom I know of; and someone with the degree of commitment and architectural knowledge that Martie Lieberman possesses is rare indeed.  (I suspect that she has created the market for architect-designed Modern houses in Sarasota.)  California has many realtors who specialize in this, and that phenomenon has developed over the past five or eight years.  There are realtors in Fairfield County who market themselves as specialists in “historic properties”, i.e. old houses, but in my experience their knowledge is very superficial.  It takes fire in the belly to do this work with commitment, it takes a person who really loves the architecture, and who will work not only for the commissions but toward the goal of preservation - that’s an unusual person.  If there is anyone “out there” of that ilk I would love to hear from them.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 26, 2006 at 02:29 AM | #

I have just received a letter from Dr. Louis Micheels who built this house designed by Paul Rudolph.  After the efforts of his real estate agent, a tremendous amount of publication, and advertising nationally and world wide, and at the Paul Rudolph Institute they did not receive a single offer. There was however some interest.  After year and a half when they were moving out of the area, they gave up on trying to save the house.  They sold it to for a drastically reduced price essentially for the location and the land.  If it is not saved, it will be replaced by another monster of a McMansion with no architectual or esthetic value.  What a shame!

Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on November 28, 2006 at 02:12 AM | #

It is difficult to imagine that someone would prefer to live in a characterless McMansion over this architecutural gem.  It is especially difficult given that this is a house with a substantial square footage already.  After reading the preceding comment, I would like to think that interior renovations and exterior repairs would make the house appeal to more buyers.
Mary Ruggiero

Posted by mary ruggiero on November 28, 2006 at 03:47 PM | #

As shocking as a P.Rudolph being so easily demolished is, having grown up in a 1700’s CT farmhouse and 1920’s NYC apartments, I totally understand the attraction of the high quality top of the line, albeit not now so unique, homes that we’re referring to as McMansions. 

Are there any more P.Rudolph’s here?

Posted by Susan Farley on November 29, 2006 at 02:31 PM | #

I am continually impressed by the people of Westport who recognize and do their best to preserve their architectural heritage. It is unfortunate that our culture has a tendency to think of buildings less than 100 or so years old as “out of date” and expendable – it is even more pronounced for buildings constructed in the last 50 years. The exceptions, such as Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan and a handful of other not so high-profile buildings, are in a league of their own. The Micheel’s house at 16 Minuteman Hill possesses those “exceptional” qualities that put it in this realm. Whether you like it or not, the house truly has a unique place in the (still standing) architectural evolution of our country.

Posted by Phillip Esser on November 30, 2006 at 03:50 PM | #

About ten years ago, Westport lost the Taylor House on Beachside Avenue in Green’s Farms.  An extradinary modern house designed by John Johansen (of the same generation of Harvard-trained architects as Paul Rudolph).  After Dr. Taylor’s death, a neighbor (a well-known tv personality) bought the house and tore it down despite entreaties from many people, including Johansen himself.  Johansen, now 90 years old, still practices and is as engaged as ever in architectural thought.
I spoke to him shortly after the Taylor house was destroyed, he was deeply angry, it was a work that he loved.  It was also a work of great architectural significance.  Let’s not let this happen again, let’s learn from the past.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on November 30, 2006 at 04:17 PM | #

There goes the asbestos roof.  I hope it is being properly taken care of.  I am a bit nervous, since I am right here.

Posted by Anne Tetenbaum on December 01, 2006 at 08:01 PM | #

I have been following the comments on this thread with much interest and am extremely pleased to hear that there is substantial support and sentiment within the Westport community in exploring possibilities to “preserve” this work of Paul. Rudolph’s. My name is Nepal Asatthawasi and I’m presently the coordinator of the Paul Rudolph Foundation. I joined the organization at the end of the summer and had no knowledge up until now that the Micheels residence had been put on the market and that it had been sold. The Foundation had been inactive for about two years prior to my arrival so there was no one here monitoring developments pertaining to Rudolph’s projects. The developments are numerous and accumulative – certain projects are attracting fresh recognition, such as the Yale A & A building currently being rehabilitated by Charles Gwathmey’s team and the Manhattan residences which are featured regularly in reputable publications and journals. I wish I could say that the opposite context for his built work is a relatively harmless obscurity. Instead, we at the foundation are informed of proposals – much like that suggested for the Micheels residence – in which an owner, developer, or institution believes the Rudolph building they have acquired is only as valuable as its plot of land. Demolition suits their priorities. I don’t frown upon whatever agendas they may have, but I wish the structure had found its way to an owner invested in giving it a less disruptive and terminal future.
The foundation’s present momentum and energy is partially channeled towards ensuring that Rudolph buildings do not result in that outcome; at least, not quietly. My staff and I are fully committed to mobilizing our contacts and resources towards convincing as many people as possible that preserving and maintaining architecturally significant buildings is in the public interest and is a legitimate civic undertaking. Although our banner reads Rudolph, we hope that our efforts contribute towards a larger shift in the general climate and that the concept of “preservation” becomes more inclusive, more accessible and more urgent to a larger audience. I’ve perceived that there are many who believe preservation to be more trouble than its worth – common refrains include skepticism about structural integrity and “datedness;” aesthetic worth; stalling the natural rhythms of the market; and so on. There is no definitive position on any of these issues and no any one point is ever sufficient to condemn a building to demolition.
  I will be posting again in the future with more information on parties to contact if you feel like being active in supporting the Micheels residence. Please get in touch with me if you have any ideas, plans, or if you just want to show support for the Foundation’s efforts.
[email protected]

Posted by Yanut Asatthawasi on December 01, 2006 at 10:50 PM | #

Would anyone know: assuming that there are more houses and less trees surrounding the house than there were when it was originally built, is it possible that because the views that surround this home have altered that it’s architectural integrity, a.k.a. it’s ‘Paul Rudolphness’, isn’t so much there anymore?

Posted by Susan Farley on December 09, 2006 at 12:03 AM | #

It is still great.

Posted by Anne Tetenbaum on December 09, 2006 at 12:48 AM | #

It is still a wonderful and outstanding example of its style.

Mary Ruggiero

Posted by mary ruggiero on December 09, 2006 at 02:23 PM | #

Yesterday I was informed by a New York Times reporter who visited the site that the roofing membrane is being removed from the house.  This is a classic way that unscrupulous people demolish houses without a permit.  If this is not reversed (temporary protection put over the roofs), the next couple of rain storms may determince the fate of this internationally significant house.  This is shocking; who would have thought that tactics of this low down nature would be used in a community such as Westport?  Clearly, this is the owner’s answer to fellow Westporters, and to the architectural community who have sounded the alarm about the possible fate of this great work of architecture.

Public records list the new owners of the property as David and Evet Waldman.  Mr. Waldman is the principal of Axis Point, a real-estate development company that is prominent in Westport.  I suggest that everyone who cares call Axis Point and leave a message in Mr. Waldman’s voice mail expressing your wish that the Micheels House be preserved; and specifically to that end, that temporary protection be immediately placed over the roofs that have been exposed to the weather.  I also have heard through the grapevine that Mr. Waldman’s architect is John Franzen Associates in Southport; calls to Mr. Franzen would be equally appropriate.

From what I have heard about Axis Point, the company is quite interested in maintaining good standing in the press and in the public forum (obviously this is good business).
I hope the choice Mr. Waldman makes in the next few days will reflect that interest.  And I also hope that Mr. Waldman will come to realize that he has taken on the stewardship of a major work by one of the handful of most important architects of the 20th century. It is confounding to me as to why this was not impressed upon him by Franzen Associates.  If the house does not conform to Mr. Waldman’s personal tastes, or to his domestic needs, he should make the house available to another family, and then build his dream house on another lot.

Several publications are following this story, and will be writing about it in the coming weeks and months.  The interest of the public and the curiosity of the press is just beginning to mount.  Let us hope that we can delay the vandalism for long enough so that the house still stands when these articles get published. 

David Waldman and Axis Point have a great opportunity.
Here is how I see the choice and the two possible stories:

  Developer destroys a house of international importance OR
  enlightened and informed developer restores one of Paul
  Rudolph’s most important works.  Mr. Waldman can place
  himself in one of two categories: he can be in the same
  league as a few developers such as Lord Palumbo who
  purchased and restored Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth
  House (in Ilinois), OR he can be in the company of the
  real-estate characters portrayed in the play Glen Gary Glen

I hope that if Mr. Waldman reads this he will not take offense, I hope that instead he will see the great opportunity this situation provides him.  He can become a hero instead of a boring run-of-the-mill selfish developer who comfortably fits the public’s preconceptions of the developer’s trade.

I stand by in the hope that I can be of help.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on December 12, 2006 at 04:04 PM | #

That NY Times reporter (and his peers too) shouldn’t consider this action described to be common for developers in this area.  The developers here have a great reputation for achieving the more advanced of 21st century standards and at the same time preserving and protecting structures of architectural integrity, as well as, for the most part, the landscape; from what little I know about these things, that’s a difficult thing to do.  So, it would be really unfortunate for this one loss to result in a public criticism of the area’s developers in general. It would be inaccurate and unfair.

Posted by Susan Farley on December 13, 2006 at 05:15 PM | #

When reading this email string it astounds me that people believe they have the right to admonish the buyer of a property for not getting consensus from an anonymous group of “intersted parties” who are self annointed saviors of culture, taste and architecture in the 21st century. It is so presumptuous to assume a buyer of a property will build something that “they” would define with the pretentious, obnoxious and over used McMansion label..Its offensive that the authors above advocate calls and emails to the buyer or architect to advocate their own personal design sensibilities as the historical saviors of this architects work, and to call them out by name and their companies in an attempt to disparage their reputation, sense of taste or commitment to this community. Furthermore, its undoubtedly one of the most innaccurate, unfair and irresponsible types of free speech that can be imagined. The seller of the house was, and is responsible for its outcome and the economics of a free market dictate the choices available to the seller. The constitutional principles and individual property rights afforded thereunder cannot ultimately be usurped by “in the fashion”, “political sentiment of the day” oh, lets save this architectural masterpiece…its a 30 year old house in poor shape, on the market for a long time and finally sold at a dramatic price reduction in a fair, open, transparent, market transaction. Leave it alone…move on to issues that really matter like reducing our carbon footprint, taking personal responsibility for contributing to global warming and and reducing our gasoline consumption and direct subsidy of racist, facist middle east states who use our gasoline dollars to fund terrorism and attackes on US interests, these are the freedoms we need to defend, not whether we like what someone will build across the street from us.

Posted by Howard Bass on December 13, 2006 at 10:24 PM | #

It’s a good thing there are conservators who can repair cracked, damaged and in otherwise poor condition paintings - else we might have no Rembrandt’s or DaVinci’s to admire!

Mary Ruggiero

Posted by mary ruggiero on December 14, 2006 at 02:22 AM | #

There is an profoundly, interesting phenomenon about internet dating…you get to hide behind a screen and a keyboard and never really get to know anyone….As the owner of Axis Point and Miles Design, I am saddened by what I read in this string. It is astounding that individuals cannot pick up a phone and make a phone call especially if they have something to say in a public forum that directly confronts the business that I have built with my own style, design, and money. I guess that we will never date….

Mr. Waldman and I, both as a team and then individually, have a wonderful record in Westport and across the globe in protecting and preserving great works of art. I have preserved and refurbished two hotels in Milan, Italy that now stand as designer showcases of a great era of architecture. Mr. Waldman recently purchased the Westport Bank and Trust Building in Westport and preserved its integrity and has won awards for doing the same. I serve as the founder and Chairman of the Conscious Building Association that promotes education and raises money for open space in towns across the nation. Further, Mr. Glynn and I recently worked in partnership to preserve parts of the Meeker house on Cross Highway. Axis Point certainly did not need to do so. I found the experience surprising to say the least; and I am now angry about it…..

Axis Point deliberately delayed its construction in order to follow through on the preservation of the Meeker structure. Not only did we delay, but we actually spent more money in the preservation effort then it would have cost to knock the house down. The experience was surprising only to learn that pieces of the house were put on display on the site by Board and Beam (the very same company that Mr. Glynn suggested that we use) in an effort to sell them and raise money for their own purpose. There was no preservation going on here…..it was about capitalism for ones own good. In the end, Board and Beam nor Mr. Glynn (did he receive any compensation from Board and Beam/) offered to share any of these monies earned with Axis Point. Not only did they not offer to share them, they never told us that this was their plan. This business practice does not seem fair and is certainly not in the name of preservation. Perhaps Axis Point should look the other way; be disparaged but do so with the understanding that much of the preservation is for selfish interests and not for that of the better of the property, the good of the architect; and certainly not for the monetary participation of the rightful owner of this property. This experience while interesting has left me very displeased with the self professed players (in this string) in the great BOARD game of preservation. In fact, how dare they……..

Mr. Micheels tried to sell 16 Minuteman. He could not. Everyone in this string knew about the listing and now knows about the sale. Perhaps the people in this string should have spent their hard earned money on the property instead of writing about how I plan to destroy it…..and give it to who?....these same people that profess to preserve but really take for the better of themselves?....no thank you. Mr. Glynn had no problem offering his services for a FEE should I plan to keep the Meeker house in its current state….Are you kidding me????

The result: we (I) will be far more careful in the future about when we plan to donate a piece of property for the good of itself…and make sure that it goes where it is supposed to go……and how it is supposed to get there. In the interim, to the contrary of misguided and falsely represented reports in this string, I plan to build a tasteful and charming home for Mr. Waldman’s family…and they deserve to live there in peace and happiness; in the very same town where he has fought to preserve and maintain not only the architecture of the town proper but plans to continue this effort in the months and years come….and do so with integrity and honesty…which is a great deal more than I can say for what I am reading here.

Posted by Terry Miles on December 14, 2006 at 06:40 PM | #

I feel that I must respond to the ad hominem comments.  I have never spoken to Terry Miles, my only contact with Axis Point (regarding 142 Cross Highway) was with Mr. Terry Friedberg.

The Board and Beam Company negotiated a contract with Axis Point for the disassembly of the house.  I was not a party in that negotiation.  Board and Beam has worked for me in the past on residential projects; when I introduced Board and Beam to Axis Point as the party who could salvage the house, I reported to Axis Point that they were a reputable and reliable company.  Their business is salvaging, not preserving.  As I explained in my other commentary entry, we could not find someone to take the house to be re-erected - we simply did not have any time to accomplish that.

I received no compensation from Axis Point, from Board and Beam, or from anyone else.  All my time on this effort was under the category of pro bono work.

My telephone is always open too, and Axis Point (Mr. Waldman) is welcome to call anytime, but I warn him that I will be a complete bore and that I will continue to try to persuade him to not destroy the Micheels House.

In my first telephone conversation with Mr. Friedberg of Axis Point, when I tried to convince him to save the Cross Highway house and incorporate it in their development (in either it present location on the site or in a new location on the site), the conversation went thusly:
  The house was a wreck according to Friedberg.  I responded that it was actually quite sound.  It has moisture problems said Mr. Friedberg.  I responded that that was because it was closed up.  It did not conform to our program for the houses said Mr. Friedberg.  I said that it could be added on to, and perhaps that that addition could be in the form a an ell attaching to a barn-like structure.  I offered to sketch something to demonstrate this solution and I said I would charge for my time to do this, but I would be glad to do it at a rate lower than my normal fee if he thought that it might be worthwhile trying.  I had no desire to be the architect for this work, I have never done work for development companies, my work is entirely for private houses, museums and institutions.  I do not do commercial work.  Mr. Friedberg’s final word in this conversation was that the (old) house did not conform to the theme of their development, and that their theme was an “Adirondack village.  My effort ended there.

To be fair to Mr. Friedberg, my suggestion that the house be preserved came very late in the game, and therefore it is not surprising that he did not have an open mind regarding the matter.

Board and Beam is selling the parts and the frame from the 142 Cross Highway house.  That is their business and that was what was clearly understood by Axis Point.  So I am surprised that Axis Point has been - and is now still - presenting the outcome as “preserving” the house.  We (the Historic District Commission and I) tried to preserve the house and failed.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on December 14, 2006 at 07:16 PM | #

To be clear, Terry Miles and Terry Friedberg are the same people and I own Axis Point along with Mr. Waldman.

Call the project at Cross Highway what you chose preservation versus restoration….the structure of the house was preserved so that it could be reconstructed elsewhere….this is the case; there is nothing earned by splitting hairs.

If Board and Beam intended to sell parts of the house other than the structure then this should have been made more clear in contract; giving Axis Point the opportunity to participate if it chose. I, in turn disagree with your assesment of Board and Beam and their representaitons…I am pleased however that Mr. Glynn did not profit. Remember, Axis Point paid to have this structure given to Board and Beam….we did not receive any compensation…...

Let me make it perfectly clear, we are good, honest people that contribute greatly to our community and industry. Kindly, do not disparage me or my business for which we have worked very hard and clearly you know nothing about. Move on…..

Posted by Terry Miles on December 14, 2006 at 08:02 PM | #

Mr. Miles, or Mr. Friedbery, whichever it is:

No one has been disparaging you or your business.  I think it would be appropriate if you lowered the octane a bit so that essential facts to do not get lost or distorted in all the phlegm.

What has been disparaged is the willful distruction of one of a handful of the most important modern houses in America (I am not exagerating here).  So under the circumstances, it is inevitable that the person who plans this destruction should incur the blame - and some disparagement.

Regarding the company Board and Beam which you are disparaging:  I feel I must say something here - and ask you to desist in this attack.  As I said to you when I suggested that Board and Beam salvage the house (or disassemble it and re-erect it if we were to be lucky enough to find a buyer):  I have had them do work for me and consider them honest and reliable.  Mr. Mathew Franjola, the owner of Board and Beam, kept me informed about his negotiations with you on the cost and the details of taking down the house.  From these conversation with Matt, I know that the negotiations took several weeks and involved your attornies as well as you;  therefore I find it puzzling that you would be surprised about any aspect of the execution of the work.  I also know that Mr. Franjola started the disassembly, but then had to leave the site for a few days because you told him your were suing one of your contractors on the site and had to abandon all work for a bit. I imagine that this did not help the in the orderly execution of the Matt’s work.

I would tip off Matt about what you are saying about him, but presently he is in Sloane-Kettering undergoing treatment for cancer.  So you see he has more important things to think about than the folly going on here.

Posted by michaelJenningsGlynn on December 15, 2006 at 12:49 AM | #

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