In 33 years, the DiSavino family never got a trick-or-treater. Their modern, ash-gray home is hidden at the end of a long private drive, obscured from the street by four acres of woods. But remotely, architecture buffs have been ogling photos of their home — one of the blocky, white-and-gray mansions designed in the 1980s and 1990s by the modernist Myron Goldfinger, who died last month at age 90. He is known for turning solid, geometric shapes into monumental mansions for celebrities and executives across Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, but any story about the architect never fails to single one of them out in particular: a 1981 beach house trashed by partygoers in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Goldfinger might have hated those headlines; he wanted his homes to be serene, almost spiritual spaces, telling Architectural Digest in 1980 that he sought to achieve “a temple-like quality” through his use of “basic forms” and was as inspired by the minimalist mosques in Tunisia as he was by Le Corbusier. The DiSavino family tapped him in part because of their admiration for another religious space: the Temple Beth El, which they attended when they moved to the area. Its simple octagonal prayer room was designed by Louis Kahn, Goldfinger’s mentor, and they liked the idea of a home designed by a Kahn disciple. They also told Goldfinger they needed the serenity he and Kahn were known for; they had teenagers. Three daughters aged 18, 13, and 7 each wanted their own space, and the couple wanted privacy, too, said Eileen DiSavino. “The solution was the wings in the house, and Myron came up with that.”
The layout of 319 is inspired by a “fragmented pinwheel,” according to Goldfinger. Like the plastic blades curled around a pinwheel axle, four separate wings fan off from a central great room. The layout allows the separate wings — which hold bedrooms and a home office — to feel remote and private, while the living spaces below helped the family feel connected without feeling watched, says Peter Tripp, a DiSavino son-in-law who happened to study architecture at Goldfinger’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. On visits, Tripp liked how the “pinwheel” allowed anyone in the great room to be aware of a TV playing in the family room or chatter coming from the kitchen, but not see or hear well enough to pry. When everyone does come together in the great room, they stream in from the home’s four corners. “It’s this wonderful, unifying element that happens in the morning and the evening,” Tripp said. “There’s a very nice way that the space is keeping the family together — even when they want to be apart.”
The layout may be unique to Goldfinger homes, but it still has many of his signatures: a 40-foot-high barrel ceiling, a floating hallway that cuts through that quadruple-height space, and walls of floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the landscape. The space is also composed of simple geometric forms: two terraces and a patio are shaped like half circles, and rooms in one wing end on the 45-degree angles of right triangles, giving pointed views. A floating staircase repeats the half-circle motif.
Eileen DiSavino doesn’t remember ever pushing back against any Goldfinger designs, other than insisting on an ensuite bathroom. Her husband, Leonard DiSavino, who died in 2016, was “not risk averse,” Tripp said. He was an entrepreneur who was early to the telecom revolution, co-founding a company that put pagers in American pockets. He was so enamored with the house that he visited every day of construction and, when it was done, still kept in touch with Goldfinger for decades. Over 33 years, the DiSavino family tweaked very little — replacing a spiral staircase with an elevator, and doing away with a steam shower (which can be added back). “We very much respected the dignity of what Myron did and sought to maintain it — exterior and interior,” says DiSavino, who remembers exhausting contractors with an insistence on keeping every detail. “We love it, basically.”
Even as her children grew older and began their own lives, the house has continued to serve as a place where they can reconnect. She now has seven grandchildren who have visited almost every holiday and for much of the summer, swimming in the saltwater pool, batting balls in the tennis court, and shouting down from “the bridge,” the family’s affectionate term for that floating hallway. “They were here this summer, and the kids were crying, ‘It’s our last one here.’” she said. “It’s been joyful.”