Building History

From Whitney to Modern

Like the city in which it sits, the Whitney Modern is a distinctive blend of innovative contemporary design and historic New England charm.  The Cottage and Carriage House at the Whitney Modern were designed in the Shingle Style by Richard Williams, architect of many of New Haven’s most notable buildings, including the New Haven County Courthouse and the Union League Club (now the Union League Café).  The residence was built in 1902 as a single family home for Abner Hendee, a prosperous grain merchant, and was later owned by Dr. William Verdi, a prominent surgeon, who was one of the founding physicians of St. Raphael’s Hospital and its Surgeon-in Chief until 1949.


The home, known as the Abner Hendee house, was described by architectural historian Elizabeth Mills Brown in New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design, as "one of New Haven’s most romantic houses and long a landmark of the upper Avenue. It was built in open country, empty fields behind running down to the river and the Rock.  Like the classic country houses of the Shingle Style it was designed as part of the land, a design of horizontals.  The great shadow of the porch was as mysterious and cool as a cave in the woods, and a porte-cochere carried the long line out into the grounds, holding the house close to the earth and terminating in a low pillar that seemed another part of nature – a tumble of stones.”


After 50 years as a private residence, in 1957 the house and carriage house were sold to the American Red Cross, which continued to use the property as its local headquarters for the next 60 years.  The Whitney Modern team purchased the property from the Red Cross with the intention of preserving its historic features while remaking it for a new century as the iconic anchor of an intimate luxury rental community.


The Cottage has been meticulously renovated into seven boutique residences.  The grand main staircase, closed off for years, has been rebuilt. Original marble and tiled fireplaces have been restored and converted to gas. Coffered ceilings have been retrofitted with recessed lighting.  Bathrooms have been outfitted with marble mosaic flooring.  Raised paneling and pocket doors have been repurposed and hardwood floors have been reclaimed.  Gracious spaces have been renewed while modern technology has been added to make each boutique residence function with the ease of a newly built building – from Nest thermostats, to in-unit washer/dryers, to central air conditioning.  The house has been reborn.


The Modern building, sited across the driveway from the Cottage, was designed as a contemporary counterpoint to the traditional architecture of the Cottage by the New York-based architectural firm of Gluck+.  Led by Yale architecture graduate, Peter Gluck, Gluck+’s projects have been recognized worldwide through national and international design awards and publications. Gluck+ brought their visionary genius to the Modern building in the form of clean lines, sleek angles and contrasting textures.  The light-flooded interiors feature floor-to-ceiling windows that capture magnificent views of East Rock and of New Haven.  Nine foot ceilings enhance the sense of spaciousness in each apartment.  Gas fireplaces add a touch of coziness to the two-bedroom residences.  All of its 35 residences feature elegant contemporary kitchens and baths, in-unit washer/dryers, Nest thermostats and central air conditioning.  A SmartAir virtual doorman access system provides easy but highly secure access throughout the property.


The Carriage House has been transformed into a fabulous amenity building for the exclusive use of the Whitney Modern community.  It features secure enclosed bike storage; a fully equipped gym; a residents’ living room with large-screen television and oversized fireplace; a yoga/game and children’s play room; and a large conference room set off by massive pocket doors relocated from the original living room of the Abner Hendee house.  The Carriage House opens onto a private garden with outdoor tables and seating as well as a gas barbecue available for residents’ use.


The Whitney Modern is a unique celebration of East Rock’s historic architectural legacy as well as an important contribution to the area’s existing examples of significant contemporary design.  We are proud of what we have built.  We hope you will share our enthusiasm for the Whitney Modern and consider making it your home.

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