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Friday, May 26 Real Estate

A Norwalk home that brings the outside in

NORWALK — When Elli and Dory Levy finally had the opportunity to tour the mid-century modern house on North Seir Hill Road, they jumped at the chance, having missed it once before.

Elli found himself in the hidden tunnel connecting the detached garage to the house and Dory immediately gravitated upstairs to the main living quarters where walls of glass drew the outside in.

“This house is freaking awesome,” she yelled down to him.

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He had yet to see the rest of the house, and based upon the strange subterranean maze he was navigating in the basement, couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or serious.

She was definitely serious.

“I walked in and it just felt so open and bright and airy and I could totally see us here,” Dory said. “We both have a very funky sense of style and the intricacies and uniqueness of this house were so perfect for us.”

The couple moved into the house in January along with their then 2-month old daughter, Harlow.

Little is known about the origins of the house, save for when it was built. But the features and timing of the construction indicate it was designed and built by someone who admired the work of the Harvard Five, a group of renowned architects that settled in New Canaan, Wilton and the surrounding areas in the 1940s, and included the likes of John M. Johansen, Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, Philip Johnson and Eliot Noyes.

The house is built around a massive boulder, which consumes the entryway. About one-third of the boulder is outside, while the rest is in the foyer, keeping with a common “outdoors inside” theme in midcentury architecture. The outer wall of the home is cut around the boulder with the glass of a window fitted perfectly to the ridges of the boulder. That was the first indication for the Levy’s that this home wasn’t like any other they’d seen before.

“To us it’s a piece of art, the whole house is, and we have to figure out,” Dory said.

The Levy’s painted the rugged stone stairs that spiral around the rock a shiny silver, hoping not to take away from the impressiveness of the boulder. The stairs take visitors above ground and lead to the European-style kitchen and open living room. Here, the home is divided into two wings. On one side is a master suite and on the other are two more bedrooms, all of which have direct access to the yard and a patio situated on top of the garage.

The couple had structural engineers and architectural experts inspect the home before and after moving in, and all have been impressed by the rock. More so, though, they’ve been baffled by the bones of the home, which is constructed much like an industrial building. Steel I-beams support the house, and one engineer told the Levy’s it was constructed in such a way that it could support an additional 12 stories.

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The home is unusual, to say the least, and it’s exactly what the Levy’s were looking for. The pair lived in Manhattan for years, and at first weren’t sure if they were ready for a life in the suburbs. They rented for about a year and a half in Stamford’s hip Harbor Point area before deciding to finally buy a house.

“I knew I didn’t want a colonial,” Elli said. “Our broker told us that’s pretty much all we would be able to find. We’re so lucky that this property came back on the market.”

And for now, the couple is pretty sure they’ve found their forever home. They’ve fallen in love with the Silvermine neighborhood just as much as they have with the home itself.

“I can’t wait to take Harlow to art classes at Silvermine Art Center,” Dory said. “I love this house. I’m not going anywhere.”

kkrasselt@thehour.com; 203-354-1021; @kaitlynkrasselt

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