Teaze House


John Black Lee


1960


Description

The Teaze House is set on a hill overlooking the Noroton River. The house was heavily remodeled beginning in 2001. Although the original house had a minimalist, stripped-down aesthetic, the remodeled house is more opulent with an extensive use of mahogany and deep eaves. The redesign was influenced by Japanese architecture, heightened by the landscaping which includes Japanese-style gardens with raked gravel beds and plantings including Japanese maples, bamboo, and azaleas.

The flush vertical wood siding at the front of the current house is designed to "float" by raising the siding above the foundation and copper drip and projecting it out slightly. This may be an homage to architect John Black Lee's original design, which had "floating" rectangular panels in the front glass wall formed by the rear walls of closets and bookshelves in the hallway. This "floating" quality was more pronounced in the original construction. The front of the house is largely blank with the exception of the glazed front doors and the clerestory windows that run under the eaves. At the rear of the house, which faces the Noroton River, the facades are characterized by an extensive use of glazing. The landscaping is terraced to accommodate a stone patio adjacent to the house and a swimming pool located slightly downhill from the house.


Significance

The Teaze House was designed by John Black Lee for David A. and Jane Teaze. According to Jane Teaze, she and Lee started looking for land in 1958 and "found a difficult piece which had been abandoned by Miles Olson who had intended to put up a traditional colonial but was stymied by the rocks & couldn't get a full cellar" (Jane Teaze, 28 March 2001). The land was acquired by the Teazes in 1959 and the house was completed in 1960. The Teaze House was included in the 1967 Modern House Tour in New Canaan.

Jane Teaze wrote in 2001, "it's been a heavenly house to live in. The symmetricality of John [Black Lee]'s design make for a very harmonious life! His balance is peaceful, the way he placed it on the land isolated us from other lights & noise, & the expanses of glass brought all the season in" (Jane Teaze, 28 March 2001).

The original house had an H-shaped plan with narrow wood decks running along the front and rear. The living spaces were zoned with the bedrooms at one end and the public spaces (living room, dining room, and kitchen) at the other end. At the glass wall at the front of the house, Lee placed built-in closets and bookshelves on either side of the front door which appeared to be floating masses from the exterior. In 1968, two 20' x 18' additions designed by John Black Lee were built at the front of the house. These additions were clad in translucent plastic panels and wood slats to allow light to pass through while maintaining privacy. In 1975, a new wood deck (no longer extant) was added at the rear of the house.

In 2001, Carter F. and Lillian W. Wolfe acquired the property. The Wolfes undertook an extensive remodeling of the house beginning in 2001. The roof was raised in height from 7' 6" to 9', clerestory windows were inserted, and overhangs were added. A new addition containing a master bedroom and bath on the first floor and an exercise room and bath at the basement level was constructed. New windows, doors, trim, and likely new wood siding were installed. A new two-car garage was added and attached to the house with a new breezeway. The interior was largely gutted and remodeled. Japanese-style landscaping, a swimming pool, and a stone terrace were all installed. The house was expanded in size from 2,500 to 3,900 square feet.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.