Kehm House


Bimel Kehm


1951


Description

The Kehm House is a long, sprawling structure composed of a small 1951 house and multiple additions. The low-lying site is relatively flat and is largely encircled by the Mill River. A large flagstone terrace, an outdoor swimming pool, and an outdoor grill area/kitchen extend along the rear of the house, partially bordered by a curving mortared fieldstone wall.

The original house (1951) is located at one end of the structure. It is a two-story, shed-roofed building with irregularly laid concrete block at the ground floor (possibly designed to resemble stone) and vertical wood siding at the second floor. At the rear of the building is a corner window assembly consisting of vertical openings containing fixed sash bordered on both sides by five small wood awning windows set in a vertical line that operate concurrently like louvers.

Adjacent to the 1951 house is a small, one-story, flat-roofed hyphen (1962) set at an angle to the house that connects the house to the former garage. The former garage (1962) is a two-story, shed-roofed structure with irregularly laid concrete block at the base and vertical wood siding at the second floor. At the main fa?ade, large openings that originally contained garage doors are now infilled with sliding glass doors. At the rear of the building is a second-floor deck.

Next to the former garage is a one-story, flat-roofed structure containing the current garage (1967). This building has a concrete foundation and is clad in vertical wood siding. At the rear, this building is connected to an indoor pool structure (1998) with a shed-roofed skylight and wall of sliding glass doors separated by fieldstone-clad piers. The indoor pool structure leads to the flagstone terrace (1998) and outdoor swimming pool (1998). The final structure is a two-story studio building (1998) with a flat roof, a concrete foundation, and vertical wood siding.


Significance

The lot for the Kehm House was purchased in 1950 by Bimel and Rowena Kehm (ownership was transferred to Rowena Kehm in 1951). Bimel Kehm also designed the Kelly House (1954) in New Canaan. Although the current owner notes that Kehm built the house, he was likely the architect. The house was completed in 1951 and originally had an C-shaped plan with a projecting 1-story screened porch at the rear with a roof deck. A 2-car garage was in the ground floor of the 2-story portion of the house. This original house is now difficult to see because of later additions.

In 1954, the property was sold to John S. Bainbridge and his wife. A 1959 realtor listing shows that house had a 2-car garage and carport, although it does not show up in assessor records at that time. In 1961, Dorothy H. Gary purchased the property. In 1962, a new garage/studio building and a new bath were added. The new building had a 2-car garage and 1-car carport on the ground level and a studio above with a balcony overlooking the back of the property. A narrow diagonal hyphen connected the house to the garage. The assessor noted at the time that a flagstone terrace at the rear and a garage were added to the assessment since they had not been previously noted. It is unclear if this existing garage was replaced or renovated in 1962.

In 1967, Francis and Anna L. Gress purchased the house (later transferred to Francis Gress in 1978). Major renovations by architect Dan Kistler were undertaken around 1967. The garage was converted to living space and a new 2-car garage was constructed adjacent to this building. The diagonal hyphen between the house and original garage was expanded. A new fieldstone patio was constructed at the front of the house. The open deck above the porch was likely enclosed at this time. According to the Gresses, the living room, dining room, kitchen, playroom, and patios were all enlarged in this renovation. In 1998, the Gresses undertook another major renovation using Kistler. The upstairs rooms, bathrooms, and office were renovated, and a new addition containing an indoor lap pool and sculpture studio were constructed. A 60' x 7' terracotta wall sculpture by owner and artist Sue S. Gress was constructed along the wall near the indoor pool. The garage was also altered slightly. An outdoor in-ground pool and fieldstone terrace were added at the rear. All of the renovations were completed by Marek Bil, Old World Construction.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.