Stonington, Connecticut, is all about the sea—sailboats, beaches, and a working harbor surrounded by a rich townscape of handsome 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses. Yet one couple whose roots in this coastal community go back to the 17th century sited their steadfastly modern house along one of the town’s highest points, Manatuck Ridge. The ocean is but a distant view as a New England agrarian landscape of orchards, stone walls, and pastures dominates.
The site is part of a 200-acre farm now in a land trust the owners helped create a few years ago in order to prevent this vestige of a farming life from being developed. Today, the farm is home to 30 head of cattle. Though the couple live elsewhere, they had always summered in Stonington and were ready to build a new vacation home they hoped to use in all seasons.
To ensure a sensitive approach to the site, they fi rst sought out landscape architect Douglas Reed, principal of Reed Hilderbrand in Watertown, Massachusetts. Reed, in turn, introduced his clients to Maryann Thompson Architects in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a firm he was sure would design a house that was deferential to the land. “This was one of our most satisfying projects,” says Reed. “We were part of an evolving landscape. We had great connection—perfect synchronicity—with the clients.