The Glass House Blog

Message from the Director

The Glass House after Hurricane Sandy

Dear Friends of the Glass House,

We would like to express the sincere hope that you are all safe and sound in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts are with our fellow Northeasterners whose lives and livelihoods have been so severely impacted by the storm’s devastating effects.

We know how much you care for the site and we wanted to update you on what is happening today. As we write, The Glass House is still without power. Our 49 acres have seen over twenty trees go down as a result of the storm with debris throughout the site. We are continuing to assess damage and hope for the restoration of power which is needed to operate lighting, gate, building entry, plumbing, and mechanical systems.

We are fortunate that our fourteen structures and outdoor sculptures are all safe, but the storm did make it clear just how much work we have to do to ensure the long-term survival of our built and natural environments. Several small leaks in the Painting Gallery and Sculpture Gallery visible before the storm are now moving to top of our to-do list, joining the Brick House as critical priorities for our site’s preservation.

As we work to get back to normal as soon as possible, we will continue to count on our dedicated friends and supporters. If you are able and wish to support our efforts, kindly make a contribution on our web site. Thank you for helping us stand up to these challenges and care for The Glass House.

View photos of the Glass House and the situation today and stay informed through our websiteFacebook and Twitter. We look forward to welcoming you to the property soon.


Henry Urbach, Director

To learn more about The Glass House visit 

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Message From The Director: “Halloween Weekend” Snowstorm

The Glass House in the Snow

The “Halloween Weekend” snowstorm shut down Glass House tours, along with much of the rest of Connecticut–if not the entire northeast United States. On the plus side, a few lucky people actually got to see the property in the rapidly accumulated snow. On the negative side, they had to drive home under dangerous conditions—as did our staff.  Shortly afterwards, the power died and tours remained cancelled through Halloween Day, at least.

We hold tours under most weather conditions  but when extreme weather happens, we often have to make quick decisions about the safety of guests and staff. If we have to cancel your tours due to terrible conditions, we do our best to give maximum notice to everyone. We get on the internet and the telephones asap, and we put a notice on our website. In Saturday’s case, the snow started so quickly  (and earlier than forecast) and fell so fast that we weren’t able to stop everyone from driving in for afternoon tours, which we sincerely regret.

Please rest assured that if we cancel your tour, we make every effort to reschedule within the current tour season. If we are unable to do so, we refund your money and hope you will try again in the following year. We hope all of our visitors, on Saturday or any day, were safe this past weekend.   And we look forward to reopening the property for the rest of the tour season just as soon as possible.

Rena Zurofsky

Interim Director, Philip Johnson Glass House

Filed under: Tours + Programs, , , , , , , ,

Message from the Director: Fall Foliage + New Tours at the Glass House

Sometimes, after a long drive on the Merritt Parkway (as beautiful as it is), I find myself cross and edgy from all the traffic.  I wonder why I do it.  But after only ten minutes walking on the Glass House grounds, I am once again calm and centered, glad to have arrived again at this beautiful location where the buzz of insects is more significant than any passing vehicles.  Lately, of course, the sounds of buzz saws have been prominent as New Canaan finishes the clean up after Hurricane Irene.  Although some neighbors were without power for up to a week due to the many downed trees and wires, our property regained power after four days.  We had a few trees damaged, but happily the Johnson/Whitney landscape plans and the constant vigilance of our groundskeeper ensured that no trees hit structures.  We were very lucky, but between damage and a week of cancelled tours, our annual breakeven budget took a hit of over $20,000 which we hope our generous admirers will help us regain.

September disappeared in a blur, although it was notable in the introduction of our new Pure Glass House tour, which is proving to be very popular.  Other highlights included a crush of Conversations in Context programs, including the always captivating Paul Goldberger, Tod Williams + Billie Tsien, and finally Gregg Paquarelli, Philip Nobel + Karen Stein.  Actually, they were all captivating!  Video from Paul Goldberger’s conversation has just been completed, with more coming soon.

October’s Conversations will be hosted by artist David Salle and architect Charles Renfro, beautifully reflecting the lives of David Whitney, curator and collector and Philip Johnson, architect and arbiter.  Another of our Plein Air Afternoons will be offered this month as well, intended for artists, photographers, writers or others who crave some extra unstructured time on the property.

For all you leaf peepers, there are still some weekday tour tickets available in October.   Personally I can hardly wait until the leaves begin to turn, changing this estate from a green oasis into a hot orange mecca—and by the way, changing Philip Johnson’s “expensive wallpaper” at the same time!

Rena Zurofsky

Interim Director, Philip Johnson Glass House

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Message from the Director, , , , , , , ,

July / August Message From the Director, Wildlife at the Glass House + New Programs!

July 29, 2011

I fear I caused some serious upset on my early morning walk at the Glass House today.

First, the turkeys were quite put out, even though they were mostly on the shortcut and I was on the main path.  We had a bit of a stand-off as they considered my level of threat.  I finally got a low code, so they just lumbered off the gravel to the grass, even though I wasn’t going that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Conversations in Context, Message from the Director, Tours + Programs, , , , , , , ,

The “Dog Days” of Summer – Glass House Message from the Director

Alice and James, Johnson's dogs

July 15, 2011

A recent article reminded me that these hot and sultry days are called the “dog days” of summer. Our minds slow and generally urge us to take a break. We hope, naturally, you will want to take that break with us, as a walk on the Glass House property does indeed seem like a beautiful vacation in only a few hours.

But it is dogs I want to talk about. David Whitney had two dogs, James and Alice. Johnson built them a “dog house” (which was really a model for an unbuilt project) that is now called the Ossuary because once the puppies grew they repurposed it for bone storage. One of the fourteen structures on our property, this is the only one with a “window” that gazes towards the Glass House. Look for it on your visit!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Message from the Director – June 2011

Lincoln Kirstein Tower
Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Photo: Carol Highsmith.

If I had awakened this morning about 6:30 in the Glass House (which I did not), and sat up on the right side of the bed, I’d have been able to watch two male turkeys squaring off in a display of their impressive brown tail feathers, fanning and folding as they stared at each other.  They stood, one on the mowed square of lawn by the pool and a stone wall, the other on a rise beyond another stone wall perpendicular to the first on a separate mowed patch (there is an un-mowed field between these walls).  It was a silent contest and just possibly could have been watched continuously after a shower and, from the far side of the house, during breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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