Cornwall House Tour Spans Four Centuries
There’s a difference between impressive houses and important ones, and the 9th annual Cornwall House Tour has both, None of the five residences on this year’s tour are ordinary: They include a 1950s Fieldstone cottage connected to a corn crib and barn, which the owners describe as a “mutt of a house”; two homes with cores that date to the 1700s but have been added onto in all directions over the years; and an eight-year-house with a restrained Arts & Crafts interior that references the farmhouses of both old New England and Martha’s Vineyard.
The most “important” house is the one designed in 1974 by architect Peter Bohlin for his parents. (Many of the great architects of his generation designed houses for their parents at the beginning of their careers as documented in A House For My Mother by Beth Dunlop.) Featured in The New York Times Magazine in 1976—“At Once A Rugged Cabin and A Glass Box” read the headline—the house was hailed for its relationship to its woodsy site and for incorporating “simple, often industrial materials in carefully thought-out, often subtle juxtaposition with one another.” Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote that Bohlin’s “work has a modesty and a concern with the idea of comfort—with the ‘making of a pleasant place,’ as he puts it—that sets it apart.” Bohlin has continued to set himself apart, and his firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, was part of the team that designed Bill Gates famous house in Medina, Washington, which has a similar relationship to nature as the seminal Cornwall house.
Just as important is the work of the Cornwall Housing Corporation, which benefits from the House Tour. Founded in 1988, the Cornwall Housing Corporation provides affordable rental housing and leased parcels of land for building first homes as well as emergency rental assistance.