Warner House


John Johansen


1956


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Warner House was designed by John Johansen for Mary Ann and Rawleigh Warner, Jr. Mary Ann de Clairmont Warner acquired the property in January 1955 (transferred to Mary Ann and Rawleigh Warner, Jr., in 1956). According to Rawleigh Warner, Jr., work began in August 1955 and was completed in June 1956. The contractor was Wenzel, Co., Inc., the lighting consultant was Richard Kelly, and the landscape architect was James Fanning.

Rawleigh Warner, Jr., was born in 1921. He graduated from Princeton University in 1943 and served in the Army during World War II. In 1946, he married Mary Ann de Clairmont, who had studied at Vassar College. They had two daughters. After the war, he started an investment firm called Warner Bard & Co. After the company failed, he joined Continental Oil Company and then took a job with Socony Mobil Oil (now Mobil Oil) around 1952. In 1965, he became president of Socony, and by 1970, he would become the chairman and CEO of the Mobil Oil Corporation.

Johansen designed the Warner House as a Neo-Palladian structure during what he called his "Neo-Classical Period." He described the house as follows: "Of my designs, the Villa Ponte or Warner House, 1957, most elegantly interpreted the Palladian ideal: the central pavilion was the bridge that spanned the stream, its three bays covered by arched vaults. Flanking this bridge were secondary pavilions rendered in pink stucco decoratively embossed with my designs. Gold leaf was used in the arches and on the living room ceiling, and on the exterior spurting off rainwater to the stream below were eight gilded gargoyles designed by the sculptor Robert Engman. Is this not enough classical revival in the 1950s to raise the envy of most postmodernist architects some 20 or 30 years later!" (Johansen, 1995, 22). The house had an H-shaped plan with the Rippowam River running under the glassed-in central portion of the building. Each pavilion had a separate function: the parent's pavilion contained the master suite; the children's pavilion contained two bedrooms and a bath; the service pavilion contained the kitchen, storage area, a servant's bedroom, and a basement playroom; and the guest pavilion contained a guest bedroom, bath, and courtyard. The center part of the house contained the social space: a living room, dining room, and balconies overlooking the river. Provisions were made to extend two legs of the "H" for a garage and playroom, but this never occurred.

The Warner House was chosen as one of the best contemporary homes of 1958 by Architectural Record. It was also featured in the New York Times, House & Home, and Architectural Design.

In 1962, the courtyard outside the guestroom was enclosed. In 1969, a natural outdoor pool was constructed. Between 1968 and 1970, a separate 3-car garage/poolhouse was completed. In 1993, living quarters over the garage were constructed. According to Rawleigh Warner, Jr., the alterations were designed by Johansen and built by T.M. Hobbs.

At the time of the survey, the property was for sale.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.