Historic Homes & More

House Envy: A Glimpse of the Spencertown Residence


Spencertown, NY, is a church and a post office and a general store. It's actually not even a town; it's a hamlet. New spec and owner-built construction is common enough-a growing number of second homes are located here-but you'd hardly expect to find world-class contemporary architecture sited within minutes of the blink-and-you-miss-it main street.

The Spencertown Residence by Thomas Phifer and Partners

But it's there and I found it. Accidentally. I knew that starchitect Thomas Phifer had designed a home in Taghkanic, NY (some 25 miles south), but I wasn't aware of Phifer's 2006 project in Spencertown-that is, until I spotted it from the dirt road leading right past the property.

A typical dirt road in Columbia County, NY

As quickly as the flash image of the wing-like roof disappeared from the rear view mirror, I doubted whether I'd actually seen the low-slung, unabashedly modern profile that so strongly defines the design.

The Spencertown Residence by Thomas Phifer and Partners

There's much to admire about it (this weekend home that I later discovered to be The Spencertown Residence); there are details I see now that, going by in a car, I never would have recognized or appreciated. But as an architecture lover, I can't help commenting that it's a special experience to encounter-even, or especially, fleetingly-a beautiful building in a beautiful place just when and where you'd never expect it to be.

The Spencertown Residence by Thomas Phifer and Partners

For more contemporary homes and house tours, consider:
Home Sweet Container
House Tour: Hudson Passive Project
Aviation Aesthetics: Second Flights for Salvaged Aircraft