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The House That Jack Built

This design was in a very real sense Jack’s life's work.

Our founder, John (Jack) F. Teitsch spent many decades designing, developing, and physically constructing his house on Gorge Road in Cazenovia. This design was in a very real sense Jack’s life's work. Jack originally purchased his soon to be dream home in the 1960’s. The building was then a very simple linear shape with pink aluminum siding. An uncomplimentary neighbor once referred to the house as a “single-wide”, a reference that Anne Teitsch as a young wife and mother in her first home took quite a bit of offense to. While this may not have been the most attractive house, Jack later said that the building’s timber frame appealed to him, as it would allow him to do whatever he wanted with the structure without concern for bearing walls or other obstructions.

In the late 1950’s the Teitsch family first moved to Cazenovia where they were a young, growing family of eight. Immediately upon moving in Jack knew he needed to find bed spaces for all of his children. The second necessary room in this new house was a kitchen. Jack quickly constructed a simple galley style kitchen to quickly remedy this issue. While Jack and Anne were never satisfied, they nevertheless managed to feed their family out of this space for quite a few years.

After getting the family established and settled, from the mid-60’s to the early 1970”s, Jack designed and built a two story addition that included a Living room and a Master Bedroom. This addition allowed Jack to develop the modernist aesthetic he wanted for his family home. The two story element, with a cantilevered balcony and prominent front became the “public face” of the house as it faced Gorge Road. This facade provided space for seasonal decorations such as a large flag for the Fourth of July, and an enormous wreath for Christmas.

Throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s,the house continued to serve the family well. The children grew and started their own families. Jack’s love of landscape design and gardening were expressed in the terraced gardens that he formed and re-formed to create a series of “garden rooms''. These spaces relate to the interior spaces to the exterior becoming one holistic design statement. Jack’s stories of building terraces with railroad ties, and the innovative ways he was able to move and set them either by himself or with very limited help became legendary in the office. Additionally, the fact that the entire basement was filled with “grow lights” and seedling beds spawned a number of rumors as to “exactly what was Mr. Teitsch growing down there?”

In the late 80’s and early 90’s Jack finally had a chance to replace the earlier, very small, galley kitchen and design, and construct a kitchen addition. Dan was home from college on a summer break when he stopped by the house to find Jack, bandana tied around his head, lifting laminated wood beams end by end onto ladders so they could be set in place. When Dan asked Jack why he didn’t have more help, his response was “this is my Penance for all the details I have drawn over the years that contractors had to figure out!” The new kitchen is spacious and airy, and ended up being a dream space for Anne and Jack, allowing a comfortable area that would also allow them to interact with guests while preparing meals.

Smaller renovations continued to take place throughout the years including repurposing of the children’s rooms, installation of bespoke millwork in the study/library space, and endless improvements to the gardens. The house remained the center of their family’s life for the rest of their lives. Even though the kids have all grown, both Jack and Anne are gone now, and the house has a new owner, it remains a “modernist wonder” in the Cazenovia area, and a beautiful legacy to the talent and love of a gardener, builder, architect, and most importantly husband and father.

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