Adam Stolpen has a thing for Frazier Forman Peters houses.
As a child he lived in a South Compo Road home designed by Peters, arguably Westport’s most famous architect.
Today he lives in another Peters house on Spring Hill Road. Neighboring homes are also Peters-built.
Adam Stolpen's Frazier Peters house. (Photo by Douglas Healey/The New York Times)
This Saturday (April 24), Stolpen will host Laura Blau. Peters’ granddaughter — and an architect in her own right — she and Stolpen will ride around Westport, looking at the handsome stone homes created in the 1920s and ’30s by her grandfather.
Her visit comes at a propitious time. The Westport Historical Society is considering a 2011 exhibit devoted to Peters. Under the direction of Bob Weingarten, the WHS is also identifying Westport homes designed and built by the legendary architect.
They’ve found 25 so far. Ten more are being investigated. They’re on the lookout for others.
Though Weingarten will be away when Blau visits, she’ll have a full itinerary. And she’ll enjoy seeing — first hand — the mark her grandfather made on Westport.
Writer Susan Farewell wrote about Peters:
Were Frazier Peters to build houses today, he’d be receiving all sorts of accolades for being an architect on the leading edge of environmentally-conscious, energy-efficient, sustainable design and construction.
The thick fieldstone walls (as much as 16 inches) typical of a Peters stone house make them energy-efficient; the stones effectively hold the heat in winter and keep the interiors cools in summer….
He segregated rooms by giving each one a separate identity, and through the use of step-downs, varied building materials, and interesting transitions. He was also taken by how beautifully European stone structures aged and compared them to American-built frame houses that “droop and pout if they are not continually groomed and manicured.”
Another important component of Peters’ designs was the marriage of the house and its surroundings. He wrote a great deal about this and was especially enamored with the brooks, hillsides, and woods of Connecticut.
Stolpen has a copy of Peters’ final — and unpublished — book. Decades ago, the architect wrote about urban planning. “He was our first ‘green architect,’” Stolpen says. “And he was completely self-taught.
“These are definitely not cookie-cutter McMansions. They are homes meant to be lived in. And each one has a bit of whimsy.”
The rear of Adam Stolpen's house. (Photo by Douglas Healey/The New York Times)
Blau — who co-founded BluPath Design, a Philadelphia firm specializing in environmentally sensitive spaces — has been to Westport before. Stolpen drove her around.
“We just looked at the homes,” she recalls. “One or two people were in their yards. We introduced ourselves, and chatted.” For the 1st time she understood the depth, breadth and impact of her grandfather’s work.
This weekend, she hopes to get inside more properties. She also plans to meet WHS volunteers who are considering next year’s Peter’s exhibit.
Blau, her husband and son will stay in Stolpen’s guest house. Of course it’s a Frazier Peters structure — built elegantly to house masons, as they worked on other Peters homes that still stand proudly, all around town.
(If you think you live in a Frazier Peters house — and the WHS does not know about it — email Bob Weingarten: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like Blau and Stolpen to see your house when she is in town, call Stolpen at 203-227-8758.)