ABOVE Jack and Susan pose with a Navajo-Churro named Flower, since rehomed. “We are starting to downsize in terms of our intensity here,” Susan says.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRIAN VANDEN BRINK
I never wanted to live in a real house,” retired architect Jack Silverio says. “I like the idea of a house that’s more like a windmill or lighthouse or Norwegian stave church.” Aesthetically, Silverio says, he’s drawn to the pitched roofs, layered like stacked witch hats, that characterize medieval Scandinavian religious buildings. And functionally, tall and slender structures, narrowing as they rise, are easy to heat with woodstoves. So in 1973, he built a riff, comprising a trio of hipped-roof boxes on 25 acres in Lincolnville. Over the decades, he and his wife, Susan, tacked two more boxes onto the home’s front and rear, acquired 25 more acres, and added vegetable and flower gardens, a barn, a studio, and a schoolhouse, where Susan taught kindergarten for 28 years. “We had the same vision of living and working on the land,” Jack says, “and we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time, happily, in this one place.”
A window’s square-within-a-diamond pattern references the home’s arrangement of stacked box forms (exterior photo), constructed by Rockport’s Sam Smith. Plexiglass walls on the second floor, visible from below, lend airiness to the 1,300-square-foot interior, which is furnished with mostly handmade pieces. Jack’s son Matthew built the maple island and mahogany stool; Wayne Breda, of Hope, made the cherry-and-maple table; Benjamin Leavitt, also of Hope, conceived the steel railing; and Rockland’s Matt Berta crafted the Douglas-fir cabinet doors. “I even built things like paper-towel and toilet-paper holders,” Jack Silverio says. “I like the idea of making things simply and having them be a part of the whole.”
What Jack calls the home’s “sole hygiene center,” from Madison’s Maine Cedar Hot Tubs, rests on tile handmade by his first wife, Jeannette Micoleau, of Rockland. “Jack would be happy with a basin and pitcher,” jokes Susan, who recently had a handheld showerhead installed. Jack painted the landscape and a young Matthew painted the fish.
A hemlock pergola assembled by Lincolnville’s Tim Fortune gives way to a 50-by-60-foot garden with raised vegetable beds in the center and perennials around the perimeter. Kindergarteners from the school Susan founded regularly visit her here. “It’s like being a grandparent, having all the joy and none of the work,” she says.
Original pine trim frames the sunroom, which Fortune recently winterized with insulation and new windows and doors. “I don’t like to upgrade everything,” Jack says. “I like to see the history of change.” With a futon and small table, the room does triple duty as a lounging/sleeping/dining space.
A ceiling framed with fir and spruce logs cut from the property crowns the living room, which evolved, bit by bit, in the home’s early days. “I built the table the first year, the bookcases the second or third, and the couch maybe the fourth,” says Jack, who also incorporated a pine desk by Breda. The result? “A cozy place we gravitate to right after supper.”