A Paul Rudolph-Designed Midcentury Is Rescued From Obscurity and Finally Completed

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By Anna Squier
Previously kept a secret at the request of the original homeowners, the Fullham Residence in Newton, Pennsylvania, finally gets completed according to the iconic architect's original plans.

At the request of the original clients, Judge John and Alice Fullam, who resided in the home from 1958 to 2006, architect Paul Rudolph never publicized this design during his lifetime. In fact, it wasn't until 2006 that awareness of the great design dawned, as the new owners became concerned over the fate of the residence. From 2007 to 2014, work was done to bring the residence up to code. The biggest turning point occurred in 2014, when Eric Wolff purchased the home and found out that the original 1957 drawings by Rudolph himself still existed. With the help of architect John Wolstenholme, Wolff researched the original drawings, and upon discovering Rudolph's intent to add a third bay, decided to construct the approximately 1,000-square-foot addition to complete Rudolph's original design composition. 

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The roof, which appears to float above the heavy stone walls, tilts slightly upward along the southwestern facade, creating the ideal design for passive solar heating.

The roof, which appears to float above the heavy stone walls, tilts slightly upward along the southwestern facade, creating the ideal design for passive solar heating.

The residence represents a turning point for Rudolph: a turn from his earlier planar designs to the geometric, sculptural designs which propelled him to stardom as an architect. The Fullam Residence is created around the idea of massings, geometric forms extending beyond the building envelope. A strong juxtaposition of heavy and light appears between the thick, Pennsylvania-fieldstone walls, and the roof which appears to float above. Negative spaces between the stone massings are infilled with glass, creating light-filled interiors. The unusual roof configuration allows the winter sun to fall deep into the space, passively heating the stones, while providing shade from the warm summer sun. 

A balance of solidity and void, weight and transparency, and elegance and masculinity define the residence's exterior.  Masonry walls define the shape, while glass infills the negative space between.

A balance of solidity and void, weight and transparency, and elegance and masculinity define the residence's exterior. Masonry walls define the shape, while glass infills the negative space between.

Full-height glazing allows daylight to fall deep into the home, extending into the mezzanine.  A stone fireplace anchors the living space while extending upward.

Full-height glazing allows daylight to fall deep into the home, extending into the mezzanine. A stone fireplace anchors the living space while extending upward.

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The exterior stone wall, which carries through into the interior, and the fieldstone floors draw nature inside.  A custom, built-in window seat anchors the sitting room.

The exterior stone wall, which carries through into the interior, and the fieldstone floors draw nature inside. A custom, built-in window seat anchors the sitting room.

An upper mezzanine overlooks the great room.  Full-height glazing provides views of the surrounding natural setting. The stone wall appears to seamlessly slide from inside to outside.  A original, signed Isamu Noguchi paper lamp hangs above the stair.

An upper mezzanine overlooks the great room. Full-height glazing provides views of the surrounding natural setting. The stone wall appears to seamlessly slide from inside to outside. A original, signed Isamu Noguchi paper lamp hangs above the stair.

For the addition, architect Wolstenholme and Wolff remained true to the original material usage and character. The 36-inch stone walls were built using the same local field stone as the original. Windows and openings, constructed in more energy-efficient glazing, match the original dimension, while stone floors were matched to the original fieldstone. Eco-friendly upgrades to the home include triple glazing of the north-facing windows, conversion to LED lighting, and added foam insulation into the roofing. The addition blends into the rest of the home seamlessly, as if it was always part of the composition. 

The view from the addition looks outward. A decorative pendant, In The Wind Vertical from Nemo Lighting, hangs above the entry way.

The view from the addition looks outward. A decorative pendant, In The Wind Vertical from Nemo Lighting, hangs above the entry way.

The kitchen cabinets were updated in a pecan finish, in roughly the original layout.  Originally, the kitchen had a wall separating it from the rest of the room, and two sliding doors that could be opened.  This wall was removed to open the kitchen to the living space.

The kitchen cabinets were updated in a pecan finish, in roughly the original layout. Originally, the kitchen had a wall separating it from the rest of the room, and two sliding doors that could be opened. This wall was removed to open the kitchen to the living space.

The floors upstairs, originally a battleship gray linoleum, were replaced with oak flooring.

The floors upstairs, originally a battleship gray linoleum, were replaced with oak flooring.

The furniture is a mixture of authentic vintage pieces, collected over many years; custom-built pieces; and iconic designer creations.

The furniture is a mixture of authentic vintage pieces, collected over many years; custom-built pieces; and iconic designer creations.

The guest bath includes a custom vanity complete with Kohler fixtures and a Corian countertop.  Atlas Concorde porcelain tiles decorate the sink wall and bath floors.

The guest bath includes a custom vanity complete with Kohler fixtures and a Corian countertop. Atlas Concorde porcelain tiles decorate the sink wall and bath floors.

The Fullam Residence stands as a stunning example of the functional, sculptural, and spatial complexity that came to define Rudolph's unique architectural style. Now completed with intricate care, the home will continue to be a lasting influence on modern architecture and a great addition to Rudolph's published portfolio. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Paul Rudolph (original)

Architect of Record: John Wolstenholme (addition)

Builder: WSCB

Landscape Design Company: Scott McLeod, Classic Gardens

Interior Design: Michael Herold

Custom Furnishings: Bucks County Craftmaster