Hodgson House


Philip Johnson, Landis Gores


1950


Description

The Hodgson House, sited on a slight knoll on a property that has both wooded sections and grassy fields, is a one-story, flat-roofed, brick and glass-walled building built in two phases to the designs of architect Philip Johnson. The main part of the house, completed in the first phase of construction in 1951, is U-shaped in plan and surrounds an open, landscaped courtyard. A bedroom addition with a rectangular floor plan was completed by 1957 and is connected to the main part of the house by a glass-walled corridor.

The brickwork is light gray, iron spot brick set in a Flemish bond pattern. Floor-to-ceiling glass surfaces are comprised of fixed plate glass sash and sliding doors set in steel H-shaped columns. The only operable windows in the house are small transoms above secondary doors. The walls terminate in a flush wood fascia.


Significance

The Hodgson House was designed for Richard and Geraldine Hodgson by architect Philip Johnson with Landis Gores acting as associate. The engineer on the project was the Eipel Engineering Company and the builder was John Smith. According to Bill Earls, Johnson received the commission for the house after introducing himself to a couple who was looking at the site across the street from his Glass House (Earls, 112).

At the time that the house was constructed, Richard Hodgson (1917-2000) was president of the Chromatic Television Laboratories, a division of Paramount Pictures Corporation that he had founded to research color television technology. Hodgson received a B.A. from Stanford University in mechanical engineering in 1937 and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1939. He later worked at the MIT Radiation Laboratory and the Atomic Energy Commission before joining Chromatic in the late 1940s. In 1955, he took a job with Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation, eventually becoming President and CEO. At Fairchild, he was in charge of the establishment of the Fairchild Semiconductor division (New York Times, 18 March 2000). In 1968, he left to become a senior executive with the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (New York Times, 5 September 1968). He later served on the board of the Intel Corporation. In his obituary, Richard Hodgson was noted as "play[ing] a role in the events that led to the creation of Silicon Valley" (New York Times, 18 March 2000). His wife, Geraldine Reed Hodgson, was a vice president at advertising agency Ellington & Co. until she retired in 1962 (New York Times, 19 January 1975). The Hodgsons had four children.

Richard and Geraldine Hodgson acquired the site for their future house in November 1949. After having trouble getting a mortgage for a Modern house, the Hodgsons decided to build the structure in two phases: the main house followed by a bedroom wing (Earls, 114). Until the bedroom wing could be completed, the Hodgsons would use the guest bedroom as their bedroom and the children would stay in the study. Construction of the main house began in August 1950 and was largely completed by May 1951. During construction, builder John Smith placed a cocoon around the house to protect the masonry during the winter, causing much curiosity about the project. When asked by a reporter to describe the unique aspects of the house, Smith replied, "The whole danged thing is unique" (New York Times, 6 May 1951). The Hodgson House won the first prize in residential design at the 1954 International Exhibition of Architecture in Brazil and the 1956 First Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. It was published in 1952's Built in USA: Post-war Architecture, and the March 1953 issue of Architectural Record. The Hodgson House was included in the 1952 and 1961 Modern house tours in New Canaan.

The bedroom addition and connecting glass bridge were completed between 1956 and 1957 by builder E.W. Howell Co. In 1960, the combination stable/carport was constructed, and the swimming pool was added in 1961. The courtyard was altered in 1970 by Zion and Breen Landscape Architects: the fountain was removed and the original brick paving was replaced with granite pavers. Between 1991 and 2005, the house was transferred within the Hodgson family through a number of quitclaims. In 2006, Craig Bassam and Christopher Scott Fellows purchased the property. The Hodgson House is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is protected by easements administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.