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249 looking back in my ­ ninety-­ fifth year, with all passion spent, I can still taste the pleasures I forfeited with the removal of that fruited tree of friendship. Philip Johnson’s lunch table at the Seagram Building’s Four Seasons Restaurant had been the hub of New York’s po­liti­cal, art, and architectural life. Charismatic, handsome Mayor John Lindsay would sometimes join us for coffee, as would Patrick Moynihan, New York’s justly beloved senator, his lips two ripe cherries bouncing with mirth, or Andy Warhol, his boyish face and hair having seemingly emerged from a flour barrel. This glamorous world was a far cry from my husband’s ­ horse farm in Pennsylvania and my daughter’s tutors at the Stanhope Hotel. Albeit on the periphery of Johnson’s urbane world, I reveled in my borrowed feathers . Sometimes Philip teased me about my faith but also wished he had it. (Philip once admitted that he had sheltered me from the more flamboyant and de­ cadent aspects of the New York lifestyle, out of respect for my religious sensibilities.) “Fine,” I had said about his interest in my faith, ChaptER 28 Glass House 250 New Harmony, indiana “I’ll introduce you,” and had looked for opportunities to expose an atheist architect to a priestly inhabitant of my church world. Canon Herbert Waddams’s arrival in New York in the winter of 1965 to give a series of lectures at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church provided an opening. I was already there, having returned with Janie after Christmas, and made haste to bring Herbert to Philip’s “table for all seasons” but not all people. Not surprisingly, their congeniality was instant. Herbert was as well schooled in architecture as he was in theology, and his keen wit was equal to Philip’s. Eager to continue their spirited conversation, Philip asked Canon Waddams to accompany him to Connecticut for the weekend, an invitation that included lucky me. A light snow, which had only dusted our train as it pulled out of Grand Central Station, was falling energetically as we neared New Canaan. Philip expressed relief to find his driver waiting for the three of us at the station. We ­were warned, however, that a major blizzard was approaching. We could either return to New York on the next train or risk exile in the country for an indefinite number of days. Herbert’s lectures at General Theological Seminary ­ were not to begin until Tuesday of the following week and Janie was in Emma’s capable hands. We opted for an expedition into a ­no-­man’s-land of unlimited snow to a ­house without walls. And why not? I was fond of a roofless church. Our ­ hour-­ long drive on a barely navigable road brought us to the low stone wall that defined Philip’s domain. Headlights revealed a modest opening, slightly wider than our car, which evoked for me the wardrobe door through which Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan entered Narnia’s frozen kingdom. Suddenly a rectangle of pure ice floated on a white sea of snow: a ­house of cold glass segments divided by vertical bars of steel. The solitary concession to substance, a brick tower with ascending smoke, pierced the flat roof proudly, as though to say, “I’ll be standing ­ here long after these ice blocks have melted.” We trudged through snow as soft as swan’s down to the warmth of a bright fire in a semicircular hearth. Not allowed leisure to look or linger, we ­ were quickly dispersed to our respective guest quarters—Herbert to the New En­gland clapboard ­house near the road and me to a small bunker on level ground, an opaque counterpoint to its transparent neighbor. Glass House 251 I entered a room unlike any I had ever seen or imagined. Pale pink Venetian Fortuny cotton damask curtained the walls from ceiling to floor, concealing windows, doors, and private areas. Soft light from hidden sources illumined a canopied ceiling—a concept that Philip had taken from the London town­house of the “accidental romantic” Sir John Soane, the early ­nineteenth-­century British architect. Two other features of this ­ un-Miesian fantasy tempted me to sever my ties to planet Earth: rheostat lighting and a sculpture. Ibram Lassaw’s rectangularsculptureoflightlygildedmetalandwire,aptlynamedClouds of Magellan, hovered above an unframed mattress covered with the fabric of the curtained walls. Had a voice whispered in my ear that I had only to...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016638
Related ISBN
9780253016249
MARC Record
OCLC
903357020
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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