My friend, George Champion, owner of GEORGE CHAMPION MODERN, is an expert in mid century modern decorative arts and a meticulous shopkeeper in Woodbury, CT. He bought the house next door to his existing shop and after a year of painstaking renovations, it is finally finished (though knowing George, it will never be done). I had a preview of it last weekend before its official opening and am completely enamored with the house and its restoration. The original hardware has been polished to its beautiful brass patina, the original tile fireplaces have been thoroughly cleaned, the porch columns reproduced exactly like the originals, the floors waxed and shiny and the paint choices a reflection of George’s exemplary good taste.
Originally, the house was built by the Curtiss family right after the turn of the 20th century as a gift to one of 3 daughters. This is one of 3 architecturally different but grand houses on Main Street, Woodbury, CT built by this generous industrialist as wedding presents for his children. There is a bit of history lost in the interim, but after several commercial establishments inhabited the building in the 70’s and 80’s it once again became a single family residence. We are told the new owner intended to return it to its previous glory but was always a couple of steps behind in his ability to accomplish the task at hand. He sand blasted the peeling paint but never got around to repainting it and fortunately because of a lack of funds, left most of the architectural details as originally found.
This is the point at which George Champion bought it. At first he thought he might tear it down, but the town would not give him demolition permission. So after some procrastination he proceeded with its restoration. Starting from the top down, the chimneys were rebuilt and repointed, a new wood roof and copper flashing installed, followed by copper gutters and a new copper porch roof. Original windows were rebuilt and George himself painstakingly restored a decorative parquet floor in the dining room, turned new handles to operate the radiators and kindly invited Waterworks to do the bathroom, kitchen backsplash and fitting.
While the house is a generous 4000 sq. ft., it is not a McMansion. The rooms have gracious proportions, the ceilings are tall but not overly so, the architectural detail appropriate and beautiful sunlight streams in the house giving it a wonderful warm glow. The twist here is that George plans to use the house as a showroom for his mid-century furniture and objects rather than the more traditional furniture one might expect. And, the fit is fabulous. The essential simplicity of this assortment allows both the house and the objects to stand independently but feel harmonious.
It is well worth a trip from anywhere to visit George Champion Modern. George has been my personal mid-century tutor, graciously sharing has vast store of knowledge of American, Danish and Italian objects and his impeccable eye. Please call before deciding to visit.
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