When Henry B. Hoover went looking for money to finance his first major project, the Modern house the Harvard-educated architect designed puzzled bankers who were used to seeing flat roofs on gas stations, not on a New England home.
Hoover did get his funding and in 1937 built his house on a rocky outcropping overlooking Cambridge Reservoir. Hoover (1902-1989) helped kickstart the American Modernist home-design movement later popularized by architect Walter Gropius (who didn’t get around to building his Johnny-come-lately Modern-style home in Lincoln until 1938.) The Gropius House is now owned by Historic New England and is open to the public. The Hoover House, though, has remained in the family’s hands for nearly 80 years — but that’s about to change.
The house still sits on that rocky outcropping, where Hoover carefully positioned it as if it grew from the 2.3-acre leafy lot itself. Hoover’s children, who cherished growing up in the house and are putting it on the market in early June, have made sure those who follow will love and preserve it. In 2008, the Hoovers signed a permanent easement with Historic New England that guides what the new owners can — and cannot — do.
Paramount is that no one can buy the Hoover House and McMansion it out of existence, a temptation confirmed by a visit to the expansive property, which is located off a shared private road a brief drive from Interstate 95. The first view is of a broad crushed-stone driveway lined by red pines, chosen and planted by Hoover himself, and a carport with metal pillars and a fiberglass roof.
Hoover’s home is the epitome of Modernist design, with its open floor plan and use of natural materials like the slate on the interior stairwell leading up into the main living space. The flooring, here, too, is slate with radiant heat that dates to work done in 1955.In 2008, the Hoovers signed a permanent easement with Historic New England that guides what the new owners can — and cannot — do.
The home also exemplifies the Modernist connection with nature. A living room wall houses a window design Hoover updated in 1955 to have fewer muntins obstructing that multimillion-dollar view, a tree-framed outlook that stretches for miles. The wall of windows with its glass sliding door is 20 feet long and about 10 feet high.
This room holds many examples of Hoover’s handiwork: One wall has a working fireplace built into cinder block painted white — and it’s going to stay that way. So, too, will the vertical wood paneling with the pickled-oak finish, found throughout the home, and the built-in cabinet with the fold-down bar.
To ensure continuity and the connection to nature, the patio off the living room was also constructed of slate. The patio and retaining walls Hoover designed wind down to kidney-shaped garden areas he crafted for the site.
“We understand that these houses have to be livable and updated for modern living,’’ Cornish said. “We just want to make sure those changes are respectful to the historic fabric of the house.’’
The master suite is part of that history. Hoover lined the wall between the bedroom and its en suite bath with rectangular windows at about shoulder height to bring in the natural light. The bath, clad in bright ceramic tile with a shallow bathtub, can be updated, Cornish said, except for the inset shelving. This section of the house also has a study with windows that are nearly floor to ceiling.
The eat-in kitchen has undergone a major update and now contains a high-end stainless-steel gas cooktop and fridge, double ovens, and white Corian counters. The view of the reservoir over the sink is a major distraction.
Hoover designed an addition off the kitchen in 1955 that includes two large bedrooms (the closets have built-in cabinetry) and a full bath.
The basement is unfinished and affords access to the backyard. Cornish said that space can be wholly updated. The exterior was constructed with cinder blocks painted white, wood, and whitewashed red bricks.
The listing brokers are Bill Janovitz and John Tse of William Raveis Real Estate (ModernMass.com). A tour of the Hoover House will be conducted on Sunday, May 31, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a reception to follow. Tickets are limited. For more information, go to www.fomalincoln.org.
154 Trapelo Road, Lincoln
Year built: 1937
Square feet: 2,463
Baths: 2 full
Taxes: $11,358 (2015)
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