"Leafing through their book, with its range of Jacobean, Italian Rustic, Neo-this and Neo-that styles and the kind of houses that look nice with snow on the roof, shadows of branches on the lawn—houses with billiard rooms, flower rooms and boot rooms, and also Jeffersonian loggias, occuli, corner porches, Chippendale fretwork, octagonal rooms, Mount Vernon floorboards and Doric order for the chimney—it came to mind, with a shudder, that Fairfax and Sammons might be postmodernists (a word with 20 different meanings, in this case historically vampiric time travelers). “Absolutely not,” Mr. Sammons said.
“We never accepted modernism in the first place,” said Ms. Fairfax. “‘Modernist’ usually means ignoring or rejecting the lessons of the past which have developed building techniques that celebrated the tectonics of building. How many fabulous cornices have you seen in your life?”
Madly trying to remember.
“They serve a real purpose by shedding the water away from the building.” In modernism, in which the cornice is seen as a useless ornament—“one is left with a dirty stain.”
Off the double-height living room was a secret room: “the Black Pearl,” the couple calls it, painted a smooth black-blue with white trim, like an officer’s coat; a room that hardly anyone wants to leave, they said, especially after cocktails. When the shutters to West Fourth Street are closed, not a sound comes through.
“People need shutters,” Ms. Sammons said. “Not double-paned windows.”
- Toni Schlesinger