Monday, June 2, 2008

Willem Dafoe's Rubber House

SELLER: Willem Dafoe
LOCATION: County Road 2, Accord, NY
PRICE: $850,000
SIZE: 1,949 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: The rubber house is a local landmark and one of the few examples of true modern architecture in the area. It was commissioned and built for the late choreographer Eugene Loring. Inspired by the enormous boulders and rock outcroppings on the meadowed acreage, soaring walls of glass bring light and nature indoors. The third floor tower is the quintessential spot for writing or gazing and the space that was the dance studio is a great room that's ideal for entertaining.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama briefly discussed this house back in October of 2007 after a weekend visit to some good friends who have a sweet spread in upstate New York. Little did we know that less than a year later, owner, Oscar nominated and much in-demand actor Willem Dafoe (Wild at Heart, Mississippi Burning, Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3) would put his wetsuit wearing weekend getaway in Accord, NY up for sale with an asking price of $850,000.

The Dafoe property sits on relatively brisk and bizzy two lane County Road 2 in a little traveled area of Ulster County that isn't so far from Woodstock, where hippies dressed in eye popping tie-dyed clothing and stinking of Patchouli oil still gather to beat bongos in the town square and roam glassy eyed through the streets while weekend tourists and city sophisticates glide by and gawk from their fancy foreign cars. 'Tis true.

Anyhoo, Mister Dafoe's nutty neo-prene clad house, located in a rural area where dead deer can often be seen hanging from trees, was built in the early 1980s for noted choreographer Eugene Loring who went to meet the big dance teacher in the sky shortly after the house was completed. The house's unusual exterior cladding of neo-prene makes it both a local landmark, an architectural anomaly and a hot topic of residential design conversation all up and down local Highway 209.

Records Your Mama accessed for the Dafoe digs were slim on information but it appears that Mister Dafoe owned this house for some time with his ex ladee friend of 20-some years, respected experimental theater queen and arty-farty actress/director Elizabeth LeCompte. That is until Mister Dafoe traded in the mother of his son for a sexy Italian filmmaker chick 20 years his junior whom he married in March of 2005. At that point Miz LeCompte quite wisely quit claimed the 6.8 acre property over to Mister Mid-life Crisis.

According to property records, the unusually articulated rubber wrapped residence measures a modest 1,949 square feet with 2 bedroom and 2.5 bathrooms. Listing information gives the place 2,025 square feet, which is close enough we'll call it even and move on. The road side landscaping is pleasantly au natural and the front facade presents an aggressive, unfriendly and even hostile black jumble of interlocking shapes that scream, "Back off, buster!" Your Mama happens to like a forbidding facade that appears a little less inviting. We're sure that says far more about our psyche than we care to admit, but it is what it is.

The interior spaces carry a distinct 1980s vibe with pipe railing and teal colored walls but they are also much warmer and more friendly than the exterior would indicate. Through the front door one is immediately presented with open spaces, soaring ceilings, tall walls of glass and long views of the gorgeous meadow at the rear of the property. Your Mama is definitely not down with any of wall and ceiling colors seen in the photos. In fact we'd love to see the interior spaces whited out and stripped of the cockamamie country cute furniture because we can imagine a more pared down palette would allow the stunning vistas to appear as living paintings through the windows...much like what's happening in the black tiled bathroom.

Property records indicate that in addition to this upstate retreat, Mister Dafoe also owns several pieces of New York City real estate including a fifth floor unit in Wooster Street loft building, where he once lived with Miz LeCompte (and probably she still resides. Anyone?). In June of 2005 he spent $606,000 on a co-operative unit in a giant apartment complex on the Lower East Side's Grand Street that is co-owned with his adult son Jack and a few months later, in September of 2005, he forked over another $1,600,000 for a place on Perry Street in Manhattan's West Village, where we presume he camps out when in New York City.

As for his upstate situation, well, Your Mama has heard from a local real estate bizzy body that the intense and acclaimed actor who famously appeared stark nekkid and simulated oral sex on Madonna in the naughty film Body of Evidence, is looking to purchase another hideaway in the High Falls area which, as the crow flies, isn't far from the House of Rubber he's looking to unload in Accord.


pch said...

I find myself liking the weirdness of the neoprene, and my first instinct is to say cool joint. But if you remove the unusual material from the equation, and take a step back, it's only marginally successful 80s architecture -- I like the exterior massing enough, but the interior spaces definitely aren't doing it for me.

Anonymous said...

Ok, it's modern and owned by a celebrity with a disturbingly interesting face. I just can't get beyond the ideal that the whole thing is draped in pond liner. I'll take Indiana limestone or brick anytine.....and they are natural, or green for trendy readers.

Anonymous said...

I hope there is a hall tree at the entrance for guest to park their mink whips and studded harnesses

chris said...

I can't imagine this languishing on the market for long. It looks very very cool to me. I'd love to live there.

Alessandra said...

I'd rather live in a prison cell block.

Anonymous said...

2 posts, nice job Mama!

Anonymous said...

UGLY! Good lord when people say that your house is your calling card they aren't kidding. What a hideosity. Good luck to whoever buys it, I'll send a bottle of Prozac as a housewarming present!

Anonymous said...

When Our Mama originally posted this house, and still, the building's envelope (skin in the truest sense) is a non-traditional application of a roofing system. With that comes risk, eg integrity of system performance (and I'm 99% confident without manufacturer's warranty).
In the best of scenarios, this roof sheeting product requires expert installation. It (EPDM) possesses a myriad of quirks, both to do with the product, the installation and rigid guidelines for proper seaming/bonding. Even with all of those considerations followed, the substrate/membrane itself -- over time -- is suseptable to shattering, cracking, becoming brittle, puncturing, bla-bla-bla.

Built in the 1980s, this system (materials and installation) were still under close examination to correct failures and capture market share in flat roofing.

My guess, this house may be experiencing problems with Mother Nature. Dunno, but maybe.

Beyond that little rant, I love the interiors. :)

so_chic_darling said...

As Karl Largerfeld said about fashion,there is nothing more horrifying than the recent past!

Mike Cook said...

The other house from A Clockwork Orange?

Anonymous said...

I am sort of surprised that more of the children don't see this as an interesting pushing of the envelope of what constitutes home design.

It's not perfect and it could use a remodel on the insde, but I personally think this is an interesting concept that works.

Why shouldn't some houses look strange and experimental?

Besides it was built by an artist and owned by artists who might not want to live in a more traditionally designed house.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, different, unique, but sure could use a dollop of cheer to make it appealing.

so_chic_darling said...

Cloe,not only is it ugly but it's not practical.Black soaks up the rays of the sun and it would cost a fortune to air condition in the summer,and as sandpiper pointed out this neoprene is now over 20 years old and is probably at the end of it's natural life.In this day and age ALL houses should be built with tiles made of solar panels,that's what the law is in Germany.Why is the USA so far behind in this?

Anonymous said...

so_chic, because we have a president more interested in making war than making sense, and bankrupting us in the process.

lil' gay boy said...

The facade is rather imposing, and like it or not, Sandpiper and So_Chic make a good point that the exterior cladding is approaching its end-of-life-cycle.

I like to think this is a good opportunity to update it with a more aesthetic surface treatment, perhaps vertical cypress boards that can weather to a nice gray, and perhaps show off the massing to better effect.

The problem with this kind of 80s architecture is that the execution of such dramatic massing usually comes at the cost of reduced interior square footage. But the interiors have held up well, except for the dated archway leading off the stair landing . . . WTF?

Anonymous said...

Well, I like it. I wouldn't live in it but I like looking at it. It looks like a massive basalt boulder rising from the ground. However, leave my pocketbook in the closet.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the ultimate boy's fort to me.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. How do you all know this rubber stuff is 20 years old? How do you know it's not been replaced recently?

I think this place is cool. Dated. But cool.

Anonymous said...

@ so_chic_darling

just to get things correct: their is no Law in germany forcing the homebuilder to construct solar Panels on his/hers Roof. their never was such a law, and - in the forseeable future- their will be no such law.
Not meant to offend, but in times of the internet, the number of hoaxes and incredible wrong facts floating around seem to explode.

a german lawyer

StPaulSnowman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

They've signed a contract on another house; one the new wife likes better, and very different than this.

Anonymous said...

You missed this little gem:

The movie was originally titled "The Rubber House", I believe. A notorious disaster of a pic.