Opposite the Rosenbach Museum ( PH95) is another of the city's literary and architectural treasures, the renovated Victorian town house of Ernest Hemingway's lawyer Maurice Speiser. Howe maintained the floor levels of the adjacent row (unlike the unfortunate house to the west), but moved the entrance a couple of steps down instead of a large flight up. The brilliant color accent of the flush blue door with its portholelike window surrounded by a stainless steel frame sets the stage for a series of changes to the facade. Instead of punched window holes of the neighboring Victorian houses, Howe used strips of industrial steel sash in a field of gray-painted brick below a concave metal-clad mansard. Within the confines of the town house volume is a free-flowing modern space. It is a striking lesson to today's historic preservationists, who fear all change and demand context—meaning imitation when a cool complement can be as successful.
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Maurice Speiser House
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