Greg Sages, with characteristic modesty, views the eight years that he’s led The Glass House as executive director in terms of the organization’s larger goals and history.
When the historic Glass House building and campus on Ponus Ridge opened to the public in 2007 following the deaths of Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the then-director’s priority was “getting the place open,” Sage said. The second director was from the art community and had strong ties to Manhattan galleries and architects, and focused on those connections in raising the visibility of The Glass House.
For Sage, “the most important thing was integrating the site into the fabric of New Canaan,” he said.
“My predecessors had not focused on that effort,” Sage said.
He added that he and Christa Carr, The Glass House’s director of communications, “have been pretty active in local organizations and also we set out to do a number of partnerships with other not-for-profits in town including the library, the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, Grace Farms, S.T.A.R in this past year, and others.”
“And I think we have maintained a very positive reputation in the museum community with visitors coming from around the country and from around the world,” he said.
Sage recently notified his employers at the National Trust for Historic Preservation that he’s stepping down as director. (The timeline for the transition isn’t clear—the Washington, D.C.-based organization has launched its search for a successor and Sages will remain in place until that process is finished, he said.)
Humble, knowledgeable, humorous and hard-working, Sages has led the team that guided The Glass House through a time of change that’s seen it grow and become a far more integral part of the local community, securing multiple amendments to its operating permit under the Planning & Zoning Commission while overseeing improvements to the campus and successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked for his message to the community on releasing the news of his decision to step down, Sages said, “I am finally convinced that we now have the funds needed for the long-awaited Brick House restoration. In fact, I expect to put it out to bid in the next three months, I’d say. That will be a significant accomplishment, as well. But I really want to thank the New Canaan community for its support of The Glass House since its opening in 2007—in particular during the COVID era, when people weren’t traveling around the world and traveling around the country, it’s really the local community that helped us remain open. So I really want to thank them. And I’m not going away. I don’t know the timeframe but I’m confident that my successor and the team will remain close to our New Canaan partners and audience. I myself expect I will be in the area and I’ll be seeing people around town.”
Originally hired in 2009 as manager of finance, Sages brought with him a background in residential construction (a family business), and spent three decades working in finance and corporate America, much of it with construction companies. He was promoted to deputy director prior to his promotion to executive director in 2015.
Since then, major projects have included a complete replacement of the Painting Gallery roof, replacement of the entire Glass House ceiling and complete restoration of the Sculpture Gallery. (Smaller-scale improvements during Sages’s stewardship include the dredging of the pond, landscaping, painting the exteriors of some buildings and replacing the glass in The Glass House itself.)
In discussing ways that The Glass House has become an even more integral part of New Canaan—expanding Community Day, for example—or increasing revenues from its lone annual fundraiser, the Summer Party, Sages was quick to credit Carr and Deputy Director Scott Drevnig.
Carr called him “a highly professional director.”
“Besides being efficient and fantastic with the finances of the place, which is essential and very important to run this successfully, he also has absolutely zero ego and he has a great sense of humor,” Carr said. “]So with that it’s an incredible way to get a team to be motivated, because he gives everybody the space they need, but also he’s very proud to give them the credit where credit is due. So that motivates individuals to work even more. And so there’s a very good feeling here and culture among the team. So that’s one of the things that has been a great achievement of Greg, is getting us in a really great space here. That’s purely him. He’s someone who will do everything from handling financial presentations to dealing with donors to dealing with trees down and flooding in the middle of the night. He’ll be there with his sleeves rolled up.”
In New Canaan, Sages has been an active member of the esteemed Rotary Club as well as the municipal Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Committee or “TEDAC.” He’s addressed residents at churches and service organizations around town, and has become a fixture at local gatherings such as the monthly Community Coffee at New Canaan Library.
Asked about Sages, New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Budd said it’s “been a pleasure” working with him.
“He valued the power of partnerships and understood the unique relationship between the Glass House and the New Canaan community,” Budd said. “It was an honor to serve beside him on TEDAC and we wish him well in all his future endeavors.”
Those endeavors may include consulting, though at fewer hours than the full-time director job has demanded.
“I’m not going to fully retire,” Sages said. I like new things and different challenges, so eight years was a long time. I’ll say that fundraising is not strong in my background and I suspect that the next executive director will have a proven track record in that area.”
Asked about his reasons for stepping down from the leadership role now, Sages said, “Like all the team at The Glass House, I am dedicated to the success of the site. I was kind of installed to create stability in the organization back in 2015, and now at this point we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Glass House-Brick House composition and it’s kind of a logical point for a transition. Also we had put in place a strategic plan that goes through the end of this year so it’s a good point to transition, to bring in a new executive director and see what their vision is for the site.”