Through the looking glass

One family’s adventures restoring and expanding a modern masterpiece.

By Marni Elyse Katz
November 8, 2009

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Back in 1998, when Lydia and John Hage discovered a mid-century-modern home in Foxborough designed in 1948 by Walter Gropius’s firm, The Architects Collaborative, they had only an inkling of Gropius’s iconic stature in modern architecture. But they both agreed that the house was something special.

Since then, the Hages have become dedicated modernists, thanks in part to Weston architect Terrence Heinlein, whom the couple hired to expand the house in 2006. Lydia says: “We interviewed a lot of architects. Terry was glowing, grinning, and so thrilled even just to see the house.” Heinlein, who specializes in historic homes of many eras, not only added 1,600 square feet but also managed to ensure his work complemented the original structure.

From the front, the house maintains its unobtrusive low profile, with high clerestory windows for privacy. Heinlein spruced up the exterior with new vertical fir siding to help the home blend into the wooded lot. From the back, it’s plain that the original house is now flanked by two two-story additions. One was built by an earlier owner, but Heinlein altered it to better match the original structure, and the other is his new addition. The three parts form an E, connected by a long, low corridor, and the additions echo the original house in their geometry and scale. Bluestone patios link the structures, and a path of granite stones leads to a dock on a lake. The water side of the house is faced in glass, affording stunning views from almost every room.

The living room in the original house remains intact. Heinlein simply restored the deck off the back of the space and reworked the staircase to a lower level, which the Hages use as a combination study and guest room. The family’s bedrooms are in the “old” addition at one side of the original house. On the other side is the dining room -- which was at one time a breezeway that led to a carport where a garage now stands -- and a new wing for the Hages’ family room, as well as a mudroom, laundry room, and powder room. “I don’t think Gropius thought much about laundry and storage,” Lydia says.

The family room is constructed of glass on three sides, imparting a treehouse feel. The walls are even painted to match the bark outdoors. “Kids really enjoy this house,” says Lydia, the mother of three children. “Everyone really gets the essence of it.”

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to

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