Nomentana Residence

Project Description

Moving earth, sliding mud, roaring fires, desert brittleness, a long suppressed green deficit are all partial motivations for a coast to coast relocation from Venice Beach, California to Stoneham, Maine.

The house realizes both a return to the forest and a return to the studio for an artist too long removed from both.

A modest site, 2.8 acres, yields an intimate view across a pond to Lord’s Hill, the eastern-most boundary of the White Mountains National Forest. The hill, an inclined plane approaching the vertical, comforts with summer-spring greenery; dazzles with fall colors; shimmers and glistens in winter snow and ice. Nature . . . spectacular in every way that Maine conjures up.

The house perches at the brink of the downward slope to the pond. Breathing in the site, the house transfigures the site through a series of internal spatial events…framing, focusing, enclosing, extending, dismissing, celebrating….

Relocated from the farm to the forest, the house refers to and reinterprets the “big house, little house, back house, barn” of the famous children’s rhyme.

Like Maine houses before it, the house is a result of form added on to form, spaces adjoining defensively and closely clustering…resisting long, harsh, Maine winters and giving the impression of small “house-towns.” Always looking back on itself, the rooms of the house are never alone. They are rooms always in visual and spatial communication. The house is rural and remote but not in isolation.

Programmatic elements include a drawing studio; dog room and runs; living, dining and sitting rooms; library accommodations; kitchen; master suite; guest suite (3,185 square feet); a two vehicle garage (452 square feet); a detached painting studio (813 square feet); and various porches (1,054 square feet).

Materials include wood and steel frame on concrete foundations; cementitious fiber board and pre-weathered zinc cladding; concrete floors; wood and aluminum window and glazing systems.




Project Information

project: a private residence
client: Margaret Nomentana
location: Stoneham, Maine
completion date: spring 1997
building area: 4,450 square feet
construction cost: not available


  • 1999 National AIA Honor Award of Excellence