The arch that I was playing with so vehemently came from a French painter, Delaunay, who kept painting the Saint Séverin, a church that was really Gothic but he used a round headed arch that was toed in at its feet, which is a very strange looking thing but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I said let’s use the toed in arch and see if you can get around the corner with it. So I don’t know if it was the Classical period I was feeling. I don’t think so. It’s Renaissance more that I was influenced by the arch and I was influenced in the planning by Mondrian. In other words, lots of influences come in. It’s an eclectic piece of work but delicious because it’s a false scale and you’re out in the lake where the ducks go and you can feed them. That was a romantic thought.
The pond is marked and made important by having a pavilion down there, a gazebo. That’s, of course, copied from the British idea of a little object done for exactly the same reason. You don’t have to go down there. You can if you want to. I used to go down a great deal. But it’s too far now, the heck with it. But you can go down and enjoy it.
There again is an amusing little twist, as there were in English gardens, of the false scale. I deliberately made the scale of this little house about half what it should be to be normal. You can get under it but it’s very, you feel pressed in and controlled. But by the same token, it gives you a feeling of excitement.
By the way, it is an island. You can’t get to this pavilion from the land. You have to have help if you’re an older person. But if you’re young and lithe, you jump. But the jump is an important thing again, like crossing the bridge up above. You have to do something, you have to make an effort. It’s a change to get up into this thing. But when you’re into it – again, we’re all like children. What boy doesn’t like a treehouse? What girl doesn’t like a doll’s house? A doll’s house is miniature. This house is miniature. So you can go, “oh, look Daddy, I can go out and play in here, you see.”
And you get that feeling. You sit down in the pavilion and you feel good ’cause there you are very close to the water with ducks and horrible life wandering around. And but you feel and then you feel very big. Do you realize if you pull/grow yourself small, like Alice in Wonderland, you’re going to get big. Well, if you get big, what’s that do? It makes you feel important. So all of a sudden you’re king of the whole pond, see. Well, I guess I am important – which is all you really need in life, to go around to the next day of horrors, you need to feel important. So this little – so it does all those things at once. So the tree house, the doll’s house, the sense of importance and again, the sense of cuteness.”
Interview conducted on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation by Eleanor Devens, Franz Schultz, Jeffrey Shaw, and Frank Sanchis.