Philip Johnson, Architect
319 Pound Ridge Road, Bedford, NY 10506
Philip Johnson, Architect
Philip Johnson's First House: The Booth House built 1946 - This distinctive home is perfectly sited on a knoll, on top of a 1000 foot long driveway. It commands scenic views in every direction. By today's standards, it's the perfect size home everyone is seeking: a smaller, efficient home that replaces the big, white elephant Mc-Mansion of recent years. It is the ultimate solution. Its simple expansive design is flexible, livable and low maintenance. The home offers alternatives to suit various life styles: as a family home, a home to downsize into, or a home to create a live/work environment. It's notable that the house was conceived and built responding to the needs of an earlier generation, long before the first McMansion.
The main building consists of 1440 square feet on the main level and 880 square feet in the lower level. The ground floor includes a spacious living/dining area with huge floor to ceiling windows and a large brick fireplace separating the public space from the kitchen area. The main level also contains two bedrooms two baths and many closets. The lower level consists of 880 square feet leading out to a walled courtyard. There are additional baths, closets and a large open finished space which provides plenty of room to create a third or fourth bedroom along with a family room, play room or office space.
The Studio building is 800 square feet with 10 foot ceilings and a 20 foot skylight. Previously used as an artist studio and dark room, this stand alone building is a handsome structure that could be shaped into an appealing work or living environment. It is supplied with water, heat and a 200 amperage electric service.
The building site of this house came at a cost and effort far beyond that associated with a house of this size. The captions on the site plan reflect a 50 year struggle to achieve the permanent privacy that exists.
The 36 acre nature conservancy to the northeast was the result of the current owners' lengthy negotiations with the Bedford Planning Board and the owners of the land to persuade them to forego plans for a large housing development.
The property on the southerly border was sold at a reduced price to a neighbor in exchange for a legal covenant that the land is to remain "forever green".
The property on the easterly border was sold with a legal restriction that defines the placement of any house built on the site; the designated area is at a maximum distance from the existing Booth House hilltop site at the end of the driveway. This property is currently for sale and could be re-annexed to the Booth house property.
The driveway which extends 1,000 feet up to the Booth House site has recently been resurfaced; also installed was a major drainage system with a catch basin and culvert at the base of the hill, and a swale of washed stone along one side of the pavement.
These environmental assets are unique for a property of this size in Bedford.
In essence, this is a house ideally suited to the living and working needs of a 21st century professional couple. It's efficient, flexible, and virtually maintenance free. It has a unique setting: high, permanently private and adjacent to a nature preserve. Furthermore, it has the cachet of design by a world class architect and a unique placement in the lineage of American modern architecture: it is the first structure built by a practicing American architect trained in the Bauhaus precepts.