Gratwick House


Victor Christ-Janer


1953


Description

The Gratwick House is set on a slight rise overlooking a flat lawn area terminating at an oval swimming pool. Sections of solid fencing formed of V-channel wood siding on fieldstone bases provide privacy at targeted areas around the property. The yard is divided by a sunken stream in a fieldstone channel with a "bridge" covered in grass in the center that is level with the remainder of the lawn. At the side of the house is a square ornamental pool with mortared stone walls and flagstone copings set in a brick patio. Most of the landscaping does not appear to be original.

The house is a two-story, flat-roofed structure clad in vertical wood siding painted white. The plan is rectangular with a rectangular addition (1988) at the rear. A two-car garage is located in the lower level of the building. The main entrance to the house is at the top of the rise, so the entry is at the same level as the upper stories of the remainder of the building. This entrance, which was modified in the last twenty years, is accessed by a set of wide wood steps shielded by a wood pergola and consists of a glazed wood door flanked by fixed sidelights and oversized wood planting boxes. The remainder of the front facade is blank, but visual detail is provided by wood latticework applied to the wall. The remaining three facades are heavily fenestrated. Many of the windows form geometric patterns consisting of square openings each containing large rectangular fixed sash over two side-by-side awning windows.


Significance

The Gratwick House was designed by Victor Christ-Janer and constructed in 1953. Christ-Janer acquired the property from builder Robert Roles in 1952 and may have designed the dwelling as a speculative house. Although no builder is specifically identified, the house was likely constructed by Roles, who worked with Christ-Janer on a number of projects in New Canaan. According to the assessor records, it appears that Christ-Janer filed for a permit in September 1952 and completed drawings in April 1953. Mitchell Gratwick acquired the property from Victor Christ-Janer, Trustee, in either early 1953 or early 1954 (the assessor records are contradictory and list both dates), indicating that it was a speculative house.

In 1959, the property was acquired by Erik Simonsen et. ux. A swimming pool was constructed around 1969. In 1973, Vibeke Simonsen became owner of the Gratwick House. Harvey Kaufman and Geraldine M. Gregg purchased the property in 1983. In 1988, the wood deck off the back of the house was removed and replaced with a two-story addition measuring 16'x24'. Originally, the house had wood decks shielded by canopies at the front and rear of the house offset to each other. The house has been further altered since this time. The side porches, which were originally open second-floor decks supported on thin piers, were enclosed on the second floor and the piers were entombed. Fenestration on the building was altered, and the front entry was also modified with a new pergola, wood latticework along the front wall, new stairs, and planter boxes. All of the work completed since 1983 was done by Harvey Kaufman The landscaping was also altered with new solid wood fences, an ornamental pool, and a stream running across the backyard through formal fieldstone channels.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.