Spy House of the Week: Modern with a Twist of Swiss Miss


Talbot County’s rich architectural heritage includes this house designed by the well-known mid-century architect Royal Barry Wills. Born in Boston just before the end of the last century, he established his practice in 1925 and was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1954. His traditional work was focused upon the style most associated with New England, the Cape Cod. He refined the deceptively simple design by being attentive to the proper “scale” or how each building part relates to one another to achieve elegance in design. What intrigued me about this house that was built in 1966 was how different it was with its Modernist style and a twist of Swiss Chalet.

The plan is zoned very well-a spacious entry opens to a rear wall of windows that overlooked the Talbot County Country Club golf course. The guest wing on the right and the living room/kitchen/dining wing to the left project beyond the rear wall of the entry to create a terrace shaded by a large tree and a stepped low wall with pots of colorful flowers marking the boundary of private hardscape to public landscape.

Like Wills’ Cape Cod houses, the focal point of the living room is an outsized central chimney that soars through the pitched ceiling. The rear wall was divided into a grid of picture windows with two operable units for ventilation opposite the massive chimney and simple mantel. The pitched ceiling continued through the loft above the kitchen/dining area behind the chimney and ended at a cantilevered balcony with a handrail detailed in the Swiss Chalet style. An enclosed breezeway connected the garage to the kitchen area.

The Master suite was located on the opposite side of the house from the guest rooms for privacy. All three bedrooms had pitched ceilings and each bath had a vintage late fifties vitreous china lavatory highly prized by collectors today.

At 1,700 sf, this house seemed larger due to its efficient floor plan, great flow and pitched ceilings. A unique opportunity to own a house by a well-known architect and to continue the stewardship of this special house on the prized Oxford Corridor!

For more information about this property, contact Joan Wetmore with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-2001 (o), 410-924-2432 © or JoanWetmore@msn.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Letters to Editor

  1. Priscilla Thut says

    My family’s home in Connecticut was designed by the architect Royal Barry Wills in about 1947. Your author has spelled his name incorrectly. Thanks.

  2. Thank you. We’ve corrected the error.

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