Thurnauer House, 1950

628 North Forest Drive

The William and Maria Thurnauer residence is Teaneck's only building by an architect of international stature, and a landmark of great significance to Bergen County and the region. It was designed in 1949 by Edward Durrell Stone (1902-1978), one of America's most eminent modern architects, during a period of peak creative activity. The owners, who still reside at their North Forest Avenue address, have been ardent supporters of the arts and culture in Teaneck, and are well-known for their patronage of classical music.

During the initial stages of his career prior to World War If Edward Durrell Stone's architecture played a crucial role in the development of the modern movement in the U.S. - his best known works included the design of the interior of Radio City Music Hall (1930), and the original building for the Museum of Modern Art (1939) with Phillip L. Goodwin. Stone's later work was also influential, establishing a richer and more decorative style of American modern building in such works as the American Embassy in New Delhi (1954), the General Motors Building in New York (1968) and the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington (1969).

The Thurnauer house dates from the immediate postwar years, when Teaneck's northwestern quadrant was subdivided and developed. The owners chose a prominent hillside lot in the gently curving North Forest Avenue loop. Stone spoke of the initial concept for the house as a tonic for the "space-wasting hallway." Instead, he centered the circulation around an atrium or "eventful space" which would provide "immediate drama and the possibility to orient oneself" upon arrival. He described his design as "essentially a rectangle with a central, covered, top-lighted atrium playroom which provided access to the bedrooms, to the kitchen and to the living and dining areas." Reminding one of the contemporaneous work of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian period such as his Ennis House in Los Angeles, Stone's design features a cantilevered wood balcony and dramatic overhanging hipped roof. The plan is rectangular, measuring approximately 46' x 82'. Interior materials include California cypress, brick, flagstone and redwood, giving the building a durable, rustic character. The house has been lovingly maintained and retains the highest level of architectural integrity.

Dense landscaping and retaining walls screen the pool at the east side of the site, and envelop the wood and brick exterior on the street side to provide privacy. The Thurnauers have hosted a number of internationally renowned musicians and artists at concerts in their residence, including Rudolf Serkin, Dawn Upshaw, Frederika von Stade, and Rudolf Firkusny, adding an extra dimension of significance to a splendid work of architecture.