The Katherine and Sidney J. Stern House at 1804 Nottingham Road was built around 1955-56 to designs drawn by Edward Loewenstein. One of Greensboro’s best examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture, the house features a butterfly roofline, large windows to admit natural light, Pecky Cypress siding, and hand-made brick.
Katherine and Sidney Stern chose Loewenstein to design their home not only because he was a family member by marriage, but the couple also appreciated his reputation as a progressive designer. Loewenstein was a native of Chicago, and he moved to Greensboro, the home of his wife, Francis Stern, in 1946. Loewenstein often collaborated with Sarah Hunter Kelly (1896-1982), a New York interior designer, as he did with the Sterns’ house.
Sidney Joseph Stern, Jr., was born in Greensboro in 1914. His father was primarily an attorney but ventured into other projects such as the development of the Piedmont Heights neighborhood near Glenwood. His mother was Flora Oettinger of Kinston. The elder Sterns were married in 1910, and they promptly moved into their first home at 4 Magnolia Court in Fisher Park. Young Sidney graduated from the University of North Carolina Law School around 1938. He married Katherine “Kay” Goodman in 1948. Kay was the daughter of Louise Seitter and Siegfried Goodman of Wilmington, North Carolina. The newlyweds lived in the Westover Terrace Apartments before moving to a family house on Elm Street in Fisher Park. While there, they bought land from Herman Cone and began to plan their Nottingham Road home.
Architect Ed Loewenstein completed his own progressive home on Granville Road in 1953. The Modern structure stood as a source of intrigue for Kay and Sidney, and they encouraged a similar design for their own residence. Unlike traditional Irving Park houses, the Sterns’ new residence was designed to complement its wooded lot through the use of native materials and a low roofline punctuated by a two-story bed and bathroom section that sports a butterfly roofline. Copper front doors access a two-story foyer accentuated by Flemish-bond brick. A sculptural open-riser staircase dominates the entry area of the tri-level house. Public rooms are conveniently located on the ground level, and steps lead up and down to private bedroom and bathroom spaces.
Public spaces are serviced by functional areas such as a kitchen and utility space adjacent to the former carport. The carport was enclosed in 1963 to provide more room for the family. The addition was made by Loewenstein in keeping with the architectural lines of the original composition.
Materials used to construct the Stern Residence were chosen carefully. Hand-made brick manufactured by Shenandoah Brick of Virginia (suppliers of Tryon Palace) represent Kay’s historic hometown Wilmington. The use of cypress siding was inspired by Walter King’s home on Cornwallis and also reflect Kay’s eastern Carolina roots. The primary public rooms of 5,000 square-foot structure open to backyard garden vistas through large windows and sliding glass doors.
The couple were deeply engaged in the community. Sidney provided a leadership gift to the United Way, and he is remembered for his service on the Coliseum Commission and for his leadership on the board of Temple Emanuel. Kay Stern is remembered warmly by Preservation Greensboro for her early work in saving Blandwood Mansion. The couple raised their three children in the house: Sidney III, Susan, and Katherine. Mr. Stern passed away in 1991. The family maintains ownership of the house today.
Preservation Greensboro was recently granted a preservation easement on this important home. The easement will provide for its protection from redevelopment and inappropriate changes to materials and spaces.
Preservation Greensboro’s Sixth Annual Tour of Historic Homes & Gardens will feature five vintage homes in the Irving Park neighborhood this May as part of National Historic Preservation Month. The tour will highlight stunning features of early twentieth-century architecture that include Irving Park’s oldest home and a Mid-Century Modern home. Participants will gain insights into local history, horticulture, and design.
Irving Park is a North Carolina classic. It is likely to be the earliest golf-course oriented suburb in the state, predating similar neighborhoods such as Myers Park in Charlotte, Country Club Estates in Winston-Salem, and Hope Valley in Durham. The neighborhood features some of the best examples of twentieth-century architecture in the state designed by regionally and nationally prominent architects ranging from Charles Barton Keen to Greensboro’s own Charles Hartmann and Edward Loewenstein.
Vintage homes in the Irving Park neighborhood was open to ticketholders during Preservation Greensboro Incorporated’s sixth annual Tour of Historic Homes & Gardens May 21-22, 2016. The tour highlights stunning features of early twentieth century architecture, including Irving Park’s oldest home, a Hartmann design, two Keen homes, and a Mid-Century Modern Loewenstein home.
Written by Benjamin Briggs
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