The midsummer sun beat down hotly so Richard Foster stepped over to a black rectangular box, flipped open the top, and pushed a button. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, his big round house began to turn and within minutes the breeze sweeping up the hill from Pope’s Pond filled the living room.
Mr. Foster’s turning house is, be believes, unique in the world. He went to Germany for the ball-bearing on which the house rests and has been working for well over a year to get the house off his drawing board and onto its Olmstead Hill Road hilltop.
A Giant Mushroom
The Foster house, which looks like a giant mushroom, has been described in the August issue of Popular Mechanics, and in September will be in ‘Sports Illustrated with a handsome full-color photograph.
Mr. and Mrs. Foster have been living in their not-quite-completed house since May and this summer their sons, Bradley. 16, Rob, 20, Craig, 21 are helping their father put the finishing touches on what may be the most unusual house in the world.
To enter the house you go through a great door set In the circular “stem” of the
Conservation’s concern now is not only for man’s enjoyment but for man’s survival mushroom. A climb up the 20 broad steps of the circular stairway brings you to the central hallway from which 10 rooms radiate. (The number of rooms is open to question: is a dressing room a separate room or is it considered an adjunct to the bed-room? We counted the dressing room off the master bed-room and the other dressing room for the three Foster boys as separate rooms.)
The living room is 50 feet across and while we were visiting the Fosters two men were busy installing draperies. The living room, they had figured, would take about 300 yards of material to drape the floor-to-ceiling glass wall which surrounds the house.
How Many Rooms?
The master. bedroom is a fair sized room, made larger since bureau space is built into the dressing room. In the dressing room Mr. Foster tugged at a part of the wooden wall to reveal shelves for .shoes, socks, underwear, shirts and ties. When he was through showing us his invention he pushed it back and his clothes disappeared into the wall. The kitchen is a masterpiece of efficiency. One corner cabinet, when the door is! open, turns a full 360 degrees and another turns 180 degrees’.
“I like to make bread,” said Mrs. Foster stroking a wall of the kitchen, “and this pulls out to make a movable cooking unit.” And so it did a waist high chopping block under which were drawers with all the paraphernalia to make bread. The unit could be pushed close to the stove or anywhere in the kitchen before, it was pushed back to its hiding place.
Other rooms include a den, dining room, two bedrooms for the boys and a playroom.
The interior walls of the house are still raw plaster but many of them will be covered with carpeting when the house is fully completed.
“Carpet on walls is good for hanging paintings,” Mr. Foster said. “It softens the room and when you move a painting it’s self-healing.”
Standing inside it was hard to believe that the great house was revolving, but once we went out on the deck which surrounds the house we could see that a tree that five minutes ago was to left was now dead ahead. There was no noise, no sensation of moving, yet in 45 minutes, it the speed was set up to its maximum, or in four hours if it was turned low, the house would make a complete revolution. You could start dinner looking down the hill to the tall pines in the distance and have dessert looking up the hill, watching the fish jump in the quiet pond.
“We love to sit on the deck at night,” Mrs. Foster said, “turn the house and watch the scene change.”
Richard Kinnaird of Ridgefield, a Perkin-Elmer expert, checked out the huge ball bearing on which the house rotates to make sure it was dead level and would operate properly.
One of the big jobs still to be finished is the building of the brick terrace around the fixed core, Part of the terrace is done, carefully executed by Bradley Foster, but there are still piles and piles of small Italian bricks, waiting to be put into place. The terrace will be a handsome base for the silver-gray shingles of the house that spreads above it.
Also still to be completed is the guest house under the garage, some yards beyond I toe house. It will have a small kitchen, bathroom and fireplace and the Fosters look forward to using it as a game room for the boys, later for guests.
When the corten steel which rings the house has rusted to the desired color, when the workman’s trucks no longer cluster about the base of the house, when the contemporary furniture which the Fosters have been collecting over the years is in place, and the exterior up-lights are installed and switched on, the Foster house will seem to float above its Connecticut, hillside like a flying saucer, an oasis of calm beauty the like of which you may never see again.