Facing Financial Crunch and Neighbors’ Concerns, Philip Johnson Glass House Pursues Expansion of Operations

Officials from the Philip Johnson Glass House said Tuesday night that the three basic ways they make money at the National Trust for Historic Preservation site—donations, tours (and the gift shop) and one annual fundraiser (the Summer Party)—do not generate sufficient funds to preserve and restore their 49-acre campus and the 14 architecturally significant structures on it. The Glass House has an annual operating budget of $2.6 million and significant, heavily regulated capital needs, according to its executive director, Greg Sages—for example, the re-roofing of the site’s painting gallery, dredging of the pond and restoration of the sculpture gallery—have taken about three years to get done and cost some $3 million. With the restrictions built into its special operating permit with the town, the $600,000 raised annually through tours “is just not enough, given the backlog of existing work and future work that will obviously need to occur,” Sages told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission at their regular monthly meeting, held at Town Hall. “Two areas that can fill the gap are donations and site-based revenue,” Sages said. Donations are progressing nicely but “the constraints on site-based activity are keeping us from using site to best advantage,” he told P&Z.