Daily News Record February 27 2013
An 'old school' architect
By Florence Barrett
Posted: March 28, 2012
The Wall, Stairs and Arbor
Stoltzfus used concrete and steel to create a wall and walkway near the entrance to the property.
Because the front yard had sloped down towards the road, Stoltzfus brought earth from the back of the property, and contracted Lantz Construction, of Broadway, to build a cement retaining wall. The wall has visible columns of small holes created when framing the concrete. Generally considered ugly, concrete is usually covered up, Stoltzfus said. But he sees the beauty in the building material when it’s “carefully made.”
“I love concrete. It is so malleable and has such good definition,” he said. “It can look like marble with a smooth shiny finish.”
The new wall will give added privacy to the front terrace, without obstructing the view of the mountains, sunrises or the village of Singers Glen, Stoltzfus said.
In addition to a driveway, he wanted to provide a walkway.
“We took it as an opportunity to make a metal sculpture. It’s actually a grape arbor that will grow over the top and sides,” he said. “The lower step reaches out. It’s intended to read as an invitation to come in.”
When Stoltzfus saw the central staircase for the first time, he said, “I was done. I had to have this place.”
Restoring the inside to the school’s original four rooms—two up and two down—French doors were added on the first floor and the windows were lengthened to 9.5 feet. Originally, the windows were “up quite high,” Stoltzfus said. “They didn’t want children looking out. We felt it just begged to have those windows dropped down.”
He learned that the original first floor and its 1951 replacement had both rotted because they were too close to the soil. So instead of installing another wood floor, he plans to pour concrete, install radiant heat and top with tile or granite.
During renovations, workers found pens, erasers and handwritten notes secreted away by students.
Additional Living Space
To create more interior space, Stoltzfus envisions designing a “semi-attached addition, connected by a simple glass atrium,” he said.
By using glass, “the beauty of the existing brick walls” would not be obstructed. The added living space would also be made of glass, which would enhance the original building.
The acreage beyond the back lawn seen in the picture is wooded, but was a “tangled mess” of tree tops from the walnut trees that had been removed.
“You couldn’t walk through it. It was a jungle. We did a lot of work,” he said.
Stoltzfus said the area could remain wooded. He also sees the possibilities of a curving but level path through the trees that connects cabins for a bed and breakfast business or cleared for a shaded pasture for horses.