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Homes of the Modern House Trust

Breaking the Mold, Annual 2017 Cape Cod Home |

The view from the built-in desk alcove, part of the master loft area in the Corey House, affords interaction with the living space below as well as a birdseye view through the two-story windows. Photo by Kevin Umlauf

Zehnder was very sensitive to the setting, Corey says. Instead of clearing the lot to build, he insisted on removing only the trees that were absolutely necessary to make room for the house. The result is privacy, wooded views, and welcome breezes. “Even in August, it’s cool here,” Corey says, adding that he has never felt the need for air conditioning.

Corey remembers when Zehnder called him to look at some designs for his new house. The architect asked Corey to meet him at Long Nook Beach in Truro. “I thought he was going to show me some paper drawings,” Corey says. “But instead he drew sketches in the sand, and I picked one.”

Grace Hopkins, a Truro artist and gallery director, has a multifaceted relationship to Zehnder. She owns a home in Wellfleet that Zehnder built for her parents, and her partner is Tony Zehnder, Charlie Zehnder’s son, who is also an architectural designer. Hopkins maintains a website dedicated to the elder Zehnder’s work, and she’s working on a coffeetable book featuring the work of the midcentury architect.

In Zehnder houses, as in other houses from this period, it’s all about the view, Hopkins says. Homes were designed to offer privacy from the street side and multiple opportunities to appreciate nature. They were also designed to be economical, using low-cost materials; and most were seasonal, with the only heat provided by fireplaces. Kitchens and bedrooms were small; “Charlie wanted the living space to be the big hurrah,” Hopkins says. Zehnder baths, however, tend to be large and feature a sunken tub. According to Hopkins, the idea was that a luxurious bath would become a center for conversation.

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