Whitney, a curator who organized exhibitions in New York galleries and museums and advised collectors including Ronald Lauder, selected the bulk of the works that Johnson bought for his personal collection. Before his own death, just six months after Johnson’s, Whitney removed most of Johnson’s personal belongings from the Glass House. Trust staff members had originally considered displaying a few key objects in the house—including the architect’s iconic round black-framed eyeglasses—to give the place the appearance it had when Johnson was alive. But in the end, they decided against any effort at "staging" the life he led.
The Trust also plans to offer fellowships affording architects and landscape designers an opportunity to reside and study on the property. Fellows will live not in the Glass House itself, but in a nearby, late-19th-century shingled house long occupied by Whitney. "We want to make sure the place stays alive and doesn’t get frozen in time," says Christy MacLear, the site’s executive director.
Already, the absence of a regular tenant in the Glass House has taken its toll. For the first time ever, a wild turkey crashed through one of the house’s six-by-eight-foot windows a few months after Johnson died in January 2005. The panel has since been replaced with tempered glass and, to ward off future intruders, the National Trust has posted a series of cardboard coyotes on the lawn surrounding the house. Trust officials say they will probably be removed when tours get under way in June.
The Glass House will be open for tours April through October, by appointment, beginning this June. Metro-North trains run every hour from Grand Central Terminal in New York; the trip takes just over an hour. 842 Ponns Ridge, New Canaan, Conn.; 203/ 594-9585; www.philipjohnsonglasshouse.org; tours from $25 per person.