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A 19th-Century Iron Foundry for a Still-Life Photographer, Transformed by Ravi Raj Architecture

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A 19th-Century Iron Foundry for a Still-Life Photographer, Transformed by Ravi Raj Architecture

October 14, 2022

When a pair of New Yorkers—a still life photographer and a humanitarian aid worker at the U.N.—were looking for a place to decompress in nature, they stumbled on an unlikely contender: an old iron foundry called the Clover Hill Foundry, original built in the early 1890s.

Tucked on a hill in Somers, New York, the series of interconnected buildings were built to serve as part of an iron mine, but for reasons that remain somewhat of a mystery, they were closed and abandoned not long after—”possibly,” according to architect Ravi Raj—”due to a larger scam operation.” The buildings fell into disrepair (and, according to the Somer Historical Society, the mine shaft became a local favorite swimming hole) until the 1940s, when a trio of artists converted the buildings into separate residences, keeping—fortunately—many of the original details intact.

Fast forward to the 21st century: The New York couple was taken by the spareness of the space and the way the windows framed views of the surrounding trees. To update the foundry for modern life, the duo enlisted a friend, Brooklyn-based architect Ravi Raj, who had worked with Adjaye Associates before starting his own studio.

With care, Ravi preserved the foundry’s original brick walls and wooden beams, hewed to a stripped-back palette, then rearranged a few key spaces and added a “modern volume” suspended within the soaring space. Join us for a look.

Photography by Nick Glimenakis, courtesy of Ravi Raj Architect, except where noted.

the brick clad foundry is tucked into the hillside. a major update included rep 9
Above: The brick-clad foundry is tucked into the hillside. A major update included replacing all of the original single-pane windows with new metal-clad versions “in order to let in the most amount of light.”
inside, the front door leads to a small whitewashed plywood platform. the neutr 10
Above: Inside, the front door leads to a small whitewashed plywood platform. The neutral, natural materials were chosen to “accentuate the interplay between the existing masonry structure and newly defined living spaces.” 
the living area is centered around a newly added malm zircon 38 inch fireplace  11
Above: The living area is centered around a newly added Malm Zircon 38-Inch Fireplace in matte black. “It serves as the focal point in the space while also referencing the previous fireplace that once existed there,” Ravi says.
the homeowner, claire, in a corner nook defined by wall mounted bookshelves. &a 12
Above: The homeowner, Claire, in a corner nook defined by wall-mounted bookshelves. “The original wide-plank pine floors were stripped and then stained a dark brown color to contrast with the white brick interior,” Ravi says. “Also, staining the floor a darker tone allowed us to blend any mismatching existing planks better.”
an orange sofa adds daring color. 13
Above: An orange sofa adds daring color.
a key move involved relocating the kitchen from the lower level of the foundry  14
Above: A key move involved relocating the kitchen from the lower level of the foundry to the second floor, where it’s now of a piece with the living and dining space. (The move also allowed for the addition of a bedroom on the lower floor, not pictured.) The pair of Flos Wall Lamps can swing outward to illuminate the dining table.
the kitchen, with honed marble island, is tucked beneath a cantilevered &#8 15
Above: The kitchen, with honed marble island, is tucked beneath a cantilevered “box” clad in dark charred-oak slats. “The inspiration was to create an element with a natural bark-like texture that would almost feel like another home within the home,” says Ravi. “This volume appears to float within the space while also defining the kitchen area below it. The charred wood material also relates to the many towering trees surrounding the house that are framed by the tall masonry openings.”
from the entry platform, newly added stairs lead upwards to a &#8\2\20;scre 16
Above: From the entry platform, newly added stairs lead upwards to a “screening room” and loft bedroom in the cantilevered box, suspended above the kitchen and living areas. These new structures—the landing, stairway, and loft—are like “a contemporary volume set within the aged brick and timber space,” the architect says.
upstairs, the newly added loft bedroom is white washed and spare. 17
Above: Upstairs, the newly added loft bedroom is white-washed and spare.
lighter wood planks add to the feeling of airiness. 18
Above: Lighter wood planks add to the feeling of airiness.
the view of the living area. (there are pull down shades, for privacy.) 19
Above: The view of the living area. (There are pull-down shades, for privacy.)
the bath, redone for modern times, references the building&#8\2\17;s iron o 20
Above: The bath, redone for modern times, references the building’s iron-ore beginnings.
a side structure, which formerly served as guest house, now holds the primary b 21
Above: A side structure, which formerly served as guest house, now holds the primary bedroom, complete with another wood stove—the Shaker Stove by Wittus—for “a more intimate setting for the homeowners to retreat to,” according to Ravi.

It’s perhaps worth noting, given that there are two wood-burning stoves in this residence, that cast iron stoves are very much a part of New York history: The towns of Albany and Troy, further upstate, were once two of the most prolific producers of these stoves in the world. Read more about that history—and the sometimes elaborate designs—via the Albany Institute of History & Art.

the timber extension that now holds the primary bedroom. 22
Above: The timber extension that now holds the primary bedroom.
ravi on the entry landing. photograph by paul barbera, couresty of ravi raj arc 23
Above: Ravi on the entry landing. Photograph by Paul Barbera, couresty of Ravi Raj Architect.

For more on the project and “before” shots—some dating back as far as the turn of the century—head to @clover_hill_foundry on Instagram.

And for more historic structures redone as residences, see:

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