Singular Lamy property on market
THE OUTCROPPING OFWHITE ROCKS IS EASY TOSPOT AS YOUAPPROACHLAMY. It stands out from the usual juniper-dotted browns of the surrounding hills and plains. And when you get close enough, you can see windows in thosewhite rocks.
This is the so-called Flintstone House, a dazzlingly organic-looking residence that was developed by Norah Pierson between 1986 and 1991. Current owner Fran Nicholson loves the totally distinctive home. “You look at the silhouette of the house and then you see clouds that are shaped like that. Sometimes it almost disappears into the clouds,” she said in an HGTV segment about the house. But after eight years here, she has a yen for a smaller, more urban, abode, and she is putting it on the market.
The story of the FlintstoneHouse (akaThe CliffHouse) began with a creative Santa Fe jewelry designer. Norah Pierson had her own shop, The Golden Eye, on Don Gaspar Avenue downtown until her death in 2007. In the early 1980s, she “began camping out in the valley below these stark, white Dakota sandstone cliffs,” according to a 1999 New York Times story, and started planning a house that would somehow blend in. Pierson set about building her abode with contractor Greg Ohlsen [now owner of Travel Bug] and it was, at first, “a relatively straightforward house, on five levels, with 20-foot ceilings and three fireplaces. She lived in it formore than a year, studying the cliff forms below, before covering the entire surface in wire lath and two-by-fours molded into boulder outlines. They formed an armature for the foam exoskeleton, applied with spray guns.”
The organic appearance was intentional but also the result of the unpredictable nature of the foammaterial, especially with the area’s frequent breezes wafting around during the spraying process.
The rocklike foam exterior was created by LarryWilson, president ofThermal Coatings & Insulation, a company that insulated roofs and walls with polyurethane foam. His business address, 242 Dinosaur Trail (east of I-25 near the Cerrillos Road exit), is known for the nearly full-size polyurethane dinosaurs he made during wintertime business lulls.
The Lamy house project took almost two years and required about 10,000 pounds of the foam insulation material. Nicholsonsaid black paper was attached to the wire-lath forms so that the sprayed foam did not penetrate deeper than the surface. The house’s pseudo rock “addition” is thus hollowand less hefty than it looks, although it is pretty indestructible, having survived in good shape for a quarter century so far.
Out front, there is a little waterfall and a stream ending in a constructed pond with lilypads, cattails, and koi. On the other side of the flagstone-paved entrance walkway is a beautiful crabapple tree. Once you pass through what looks like a cave entrance, you’re in a regular house, although it’s very three-dimensional, with a variety of vertical expanses.
The tall living room has tile floors, a beamed ceiling, and a handsome corner fireplace with a hearth that extends leftward in a long banco.
Another 2-story room has a big fireplace and a loft below which is a studio space for Nicholson, who is an artist and a moldmaker for bronze-casters. She moved to this area 30some years ago to work at Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque, and ran its sand-casting department for a time. She now works freelance for sculptors. This large room could suit many purposes for the new owner; it could be a second living room and the studio a wet bar or a children’s play area.