A Rich History of Humanity

When my husband and I were looking for land to build the house that we designed, we knew that we wanted to avoid towns that had been “restricted”. Restricted towns, which came into being along the Connecticut shore and in northern Westchester County, New York in the 1940's and 50's, were towns that restricted home ownership by Jews, African Americans and Catholics. The most famous of these towns was Darien, Connecticut, which served as the backdrop for the iconic film depicting anti-Semitism, “The Gentleman’s Agreement”. 

In our search we discovered a “non-restricted” town called Pound Ridge, New York, a town of 5,000 residents. Pound Ridge had been a haven for people who didn’t feel comfortable in the surrounding white protestant enclaves.  Benny Goodman, Eartha Kit, Tallulah Bankhead and the real estate developer George Kaufman were a few of the people who enjoyed the community of Pound Ridge as a retreat from New York City, which was less than an hour away.

As luck would have it, we found 13 acres of land in this town and designed and built the house that we live in today.  And we also discovered the rich history of Pound Ridge. It was a special non-restricted town because of a remarkable resident, Hiram Halle, who saved the lives of thousands of German Jews from the Holocaust. 

Gorge Farm

Gorge Farm

In the early 20th Century, Mr. Halle was one of the wealthiest men in the country from his oil refinery businesses. He sold his companies in 1931 and devoted his time and wealth to philanthropy. A close friend of Alvin Johnson, the director of the New School for Social Research, Mr. Halle financed a program that allowed German Jewish scholars to come to the United States.  Thousands were able to enroll in the program and avoid the horrors of the Holocaust. 

Hiram Halle

Hiram Halle

My husband and I were delighted to discover that Hiram Halle was also an amateur architect.  During the Great Depression, he purchased many of the farm houses that were in disrepair, renovated them, and rented them for little money, often furnished with his own antiques and furniture, to people whom he felt could make a positive contribution to the town and to society, regardless of their ethnicity or religious background. Mr. Halle bought homes from the 18th and 19th Century and added functional elements such as large windows and porches.  The results range from acceptable (816 South Bedford Road) to English cottage sublime (66 Matthews Mill), but all are contextual and evocative of town hamlet life. 

Today there are 36 Hiram Halle homes, privately owned and protected by the Pound Ridge Historical Society.  It is a privilege to live in a town that is not only naturally beautiful, but also has such a rich history of humanity. 

 

Elisabeth Post-Marner, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal

 

Summertime by Kristen and Kurt

Email from Kristen Persinos to Kurt Gottschalk dated June 13, 2017 

"So, I have to do a blog for work. I was thinking about doing ten songs of summer. All the choices off the top of my head are pretty obvious. Then it occurred to me…you are basically an encyclopedia of music. Would you like to "co-curate" with me and provide five choices? No rules. Just that they are about summer or mention summer, I suppose. Your reward will be a beverage of your choice and worldwide acclaim!"

Well...Kurt said yes. 

Kristen’s Picks and Comments (Not necessarily in any order.) 

1. Alice Cooper: School's Out - An obvious choice, oldie but goodie, and check out the killer original line up and their groovy threads. The whole album is an A+. "Well we got no class...and we got no principals..." 

2. Blue Cheer: Summertime Blues - Written by Eddie Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Listen loud and enjoy more groovy-liscious-ness.

2.a Okay, I’m cheating. If you liked that version of Summertime Blues, maybe you’ll like this one too. The Who: Summertime Blues - MAXIMUM ROCK AND ROLL!

3. Sly and the Family Stone: Hot Fun in the Summertime - “Whoa yeah yeah…” 

4. Lovin-Spoonful: Summer in the City - “Come-on come-on and dance all night…despite, the heat it'll be alright.” 

5. Grey Gardens Musical: Another Winter in a Summer Town - Had to throw this one in even if it is a depressing song about the end of summer. Vocalist Christine Ebersole! Wow.

Kurt’s Picks and Comments

1. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald: Summertime - Everyone knows the song but these two voices together, damn.

2. Mungo Jerry: In the Summertime - What makes a perfect summer song? Everyone knows it but it isn’t overplayed.

3. Prince: Hot Summer - Never released but delivered to Minneapolis radio station the Current to be played once in June, 2010. He could make things sound so effortless.

4. The Danleers: One Summer Night - Straight outta Brooklyn and sold a million copies in the summer of 1958. Why don’t people listen to doo-wop anymore, Kristen? Why? (Kristen's answer…not enough MAXIMUM ROCK AND ROLL!)

5. Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers: That Summer Feeling - Because you know summer isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Thanks Kurt!

Who is Kurt Gottschalk besides a swell guy I went to high school with in Springfield, Illinois? Well…in his own words: 

Kurt Gottschalk writes about music for a variety of publications and hosts the radio show Miniature Minotaurs on WFMU. He is also an author and playwright, and the staging of his play -- co-produced by Kristen Persinos -- is one of his proudest accomplishments (Aw…shucks Kurt!). He pretty much never writes about himself in the third person. 

Kristen Persinos, Marketing Director