Classic Modern in Connecticut: Rotating House, $1.75M

Wilton, Conn rotating house Richard FosterImagine you find a house for sale with a master-bedroom view of the surrounding garden. But what you really wanted was a view of the pond on the other side of the property where the birds and other wildlife flock. If you own the Rotating House in Wilton, Conn., that can be changed in about 50 minutes.

This entire house, a mid-century-modern classic designed by noted architect Richard T. Foster and built in 1968, sits like a flying saucer on a small pedestal, from which it rotates 360 degrees. "It's been written up all over the place," says the house's listing agent, JoAnne Fisher of William Pitt/Sotheby's International Realty. "It was featured in House and Garden magazine when [the magazine] was 65 cents."

The Rotating House is currently on the market for $1,750,000.
The price has been reduced from its earlier $2,295,000 listing. But that's not a reflection on the house itself, which had its interior extensively renovated in 2005 (kitchen and bathrooms updated, walls removed) and is clearly a one-of-a-kind property. Instead, blame the price drop on the Great Recession and the fact that it has only three bedrooms. For the same price, Wilton's more traditional homes and new "McMansions" have at least five bedrooms and four baths.

Foster's design premiered the same year as Stanley Kubrick's classic, head-tripping "2001: A Space Odyssey," and just a year before man walked on the moon. In that sense, the house is a stylistic time-capsule that's retro and futuristic at the same time.

Foster also collaborated on the design with legendary architect Philip Johnson, who designed the renowned Glass House in nearby New Canaan, Conn. This area, a bedroom community of New York, is home to many affluent residents and has given birth to numerous mid-century modern gems by master architects from Frank Lloyd Wright (the Sander House in Stamford) to Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (the legendary Farnsworth House in West Hartford).

The Rotating House belongs to a small class of modernist properties designed in the 1960s, when the boxy quality of early modernism -- exemplified in the Case Study houses of Los Angeles or in Van Der Rohe's designs -- gave way to something more animated and futuristic. That often meant the clean lines of modern were applied to more organic, curvy shapes, and there was briefly a proliferation of circular houses. They include the Mayes Residence in Glen Ellyn, Ill. designed by Wright protégé Don Erickson; the Malin Residence in Los Angeles (aka "Chemosphere"), by John Lautner; and the Zidell House in Portland, Ore. by Saul Zaik (built for a shipbuilding tycoon using a ship's mast).

You could also place the Wilton house with some commercial buildings of the era, parts of which also turned: the now-demolished Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas (commissioned by Howard Hughes); the Space Needle in Seattle (built for the 1962 World's Fair); La Ronde atop Honolulu's Ala Moana Building (thought to be the first rotating restaurant); The Sun Dial Restaurant atop Atlanta's Peachtree Plaza Hotel, and Toronto's CN Tower.

For all its modernist pedigree and the novelty of its rotation, though, the house at its best is really about simpler functions and pleasures, like natural light and views. The residence has floor-to-ceiling glass on the entire perimeter; the views of the property's four acres of rural countryside, and beyond, are continuous and massive, like a 360-degree IMAX screen.

"I believe this house should be bought by someone who is a collector of art," its listing agent adds. "It's just a piece of architecture that is a real collector's item. And in this market, where the prices are so much more reasonable, it's only going to get better."

A video on Yahoo's online style magazine, Shine, offers a peek. "Out with the square and in with the round," offers the host cheerfully.

See more homes for sale in Wilton, Conn. at AOL Real Estate.

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