The Rufus Stillman Cottage by Marcel Breuer is an exceptional design and living experience that Wright will present at auction in December of 2018. The sale is a rare opportunity to own a historically significant home that espouses the simple and streamlined ideals of one of the 20th century’s most influential architects.
Architect Marcel Breuer
Location Litchfield, Connecticut
Lot Size 10 acres
Square Feet 2,426 (including garage)
Rufus and Leslie Stillman, 1973–1974
Toby Moffett, 1976
Private Collection, c. 1998
Acquired by the present owners in 2004
Connecticut Preservation Award, 2018
Space The home was built by longtime Breuer client and friend Rufus Stillman and is identical to Breuer’s first Wellfleet cottage design, Breuer Cottage (1944). Set upon stilts and nestled privately in the rolling Litchfield hillside where it offers elevated views of the Naugatuck valley, the cottage is a study in economy and landscape. The main structure is comprised of two bedrooms, one bath, a combined kitchen and dining space, and a cantilevered screened-in porch. Connected by a breezeway is an MBA-designed pavilion addition (posthumously built—and as found on two of the four Wellfleet cottages Breuer designed) with foyer, great room, master bedroom with bathroom and walk-in closet, and two abutting screen porches running its full length. There is a detached garage and carport that has been added and is in keeping with the cottage design. Designated trails through a bestowed 70 acre land trust connect the Stillman Cottage to two other Breuer-designed Litchfield homes (Stillman 2 and Stillman 3) which were all once the property of the Stillman family.
The Significance of the Rufus Stillman Cottage
The Rufus Stillman Cottage was designed by Marcel Breuer and built by Rufus Stillman in 1973–1974. The Stillman Cottage is an important contribution to modern architecture, as gesture between client and architect. Additionally, it holds a unique place in the cross currents of Connecticut mid-century artistic and political movements.
While Breuer’s other cottages were all located in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, the Stillman Cottage was built in Litchfield, Connecticut by Rufus Stillman on the hill behind Stillman Houses 2 (1965–1966) and 3 (1973–1974), where the three structures shared a hundred-acre parcel owned by the Stillman family. It was constructed with the identical floor plan and square footage as the original Breuer Cottage (1944) and like its peers, serves as a study in economy and landscape.
Breuer / Stillman Projects: 1950–1978
Over the course of three decades, Rufus Stillman commissioned Marcel Breuer for more than twenty projects. He first commissioned Breuer in 1949 to design his home in Litchfield, Connecticut after visiting the architect at his home (Breuer I, 1948) in nearby New Canaan. From various residences to elementary and high schools and several structures for his company Torin Industries, for whom Breuer served as the official architect, Stillman was one of Breuer’s most avid supporters as well as among his closest friends.
Images courtesy of the Marcel Breuer Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
Complete List of Breuer / Stillman Projects
1950 Stillman House I
1951 Caesar Cottage
1953 Edgar Stillman Cottage
1953 Torin Industries
1955 Litchfield High School
1955 Northfield Elementary School
1955 Bantam Elementary School
1955 Connecticut Junior Republic School
1956 Torin Industries Building
Van Nuys, California
1963 Torin Industries Machine Division
1964 Torin Industries Building
1966 Stillman House II
1966 Torin Industries Administration Center
1966 Torin Industries Building
1968 Torin Industries Building
1971 Torin Industries Technical Center
1973–1974 Torin Industries Assembly Plant
1973–1974 Stillman House III
1974 Rufus Stillman Cottage
1976 Torin Industries Plant
1978 Litchfield County Courthouse
Art & Politics
In 1976 Rufus Stillman sold the cottage to his friend, the newly elected U.S. Congressman Toby Moffett. Moffett, along with consumer advocate Ralph Nadar, founded the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, becoming a nationally known leader of environmental issues and leading opponent of the oil industry. Through his connection with Rufus Stillman, artists such as Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, Romare Bearden and Norman Ives created campaign artwork for Moffett. The cottage was Moffett's campaign headquarters and frequently the site for fundraising events that hosted luminaries such as Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The cottage would remain Moffett's home and headquarters for two decades, witness to his campaigns for Connecticut State Govenor and U.S. Senate.
One Client’s Point of View
By Rufus Stillman
Essay from Marcel Breuer Sun and Shadow:
The Philosophy of an Architect
published in 1955
Plans & Elevations
Modern architecture is not a style,
it’s an attitude.