WHEN A RETIRED COUPLE approached Connecticut architect Tony Terry about designing a house for them in the Gothic-Revival style, they found a very willing—and hardworking—partner. That's because it's unusual for an architect to be able to sink his teeth into a 19th-century style that's so rarely done these days and that's so rich with signature touches. Think lofty, lancet-arched windows, steep vaulted roofs, and trefoil and diamond details. “We tried hard not to go overboard and get too cartoonish,” says Terry. “The owners would occasionally tug on the reins and say, ‘Whoa, maybe that's a bit much.' This is a house that is very much about the details, and there was lots of collaboration in determining just what that level of detail would be. Every part of the house means something to them.” The home was recently awarded the Alice Washburn Award, given out annually by AIA Connecticut and Connecticut Magazine.
The basic form of the house is two intersecting gables that form a cross. The more dominant, center gable, which is crowned with a large gothic arch, carries through from front to back; all the rooms revolve around the center stair hall. On the first floor, the more formal living room, dining room, and conservatory are located at the front of the house. The spaces the couple uses daily, the family room, breakfast nook, and kitchen, are located at the rear and overlook the Connecticut River. Upstairs, three bedrooms and a play room revolve around the stair hall.
“There's a graduation of emphasis with this house,” says Terry, “with the most emphatic being the front stair hall and the stair itself. Certain areas of the interior have more intensity, while other areas have detailing that's been stepped down. This house was a true collaboration, with very involved owners.”
Location: Connecticut River; Size: 4,850 square feet; Architect: Terry Architecture, Branford, Conn.; Builder: H.P. Broom, Housewright, Hadlyme, Conn.