81 Sunset Rock Road

Architectural Description: 

Contemporary/modern/International style, low, flat roof, natural stone, wood with large glass windows on southern exposure

Historical Narrative: 

This contemporary International Style home was designed by noted architect Marcel Breuer and built for Vito and Florence Grieco.

Marcel Breuer was a student and then teacher at the Bauhaus art and architecture school in Germany. In 1919 a new movement began in the Bauhaus school when architects bean to experiment with design materials that included industrial and natural materials and embraced the idea of mass production. Breuer came to the America in the late 1930's to teach at Harvard Graduate School of Design and to work with the famous modernist architect Walter Gropius.
Breuer designed modern, efficient homes and businesses in his Modernist Style. Some notable projects are the Whitney Museum in NYC, UNESCO headquarters in Paris and Campus Center University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Marcel Breuer is also remembered for his chrome and leather chair design still popular today and often copied.

The Grieco home and the Laaff home at 81 Reservation Road in Andover are the only two homes designed by Breuer north of Boston.

Vito Grieco was born Oct. 27, 1890 in Potenza, Rapone, Italy son of Angele & Rapheala (DeMarco) Grieco. Vito was a tailor and immigrated to America from Harve, France on the S.S. LaGascogne on Mar. 29, 1906, arriving in NYC on April 7, 1906. Vito's parents and siblings Nicholas, b. July 26, 1892 and Anne b. 1900 would also make the journey.

Vito first settled in New York City as a tailor. He later married Florence b. Nov. 27, 1897 in NYC. They had two daughters; Thisbe b. Mar. 27, 1916 in NYC and Alda b. Nov. 27, 1922 in Baltimore, MD. Vito became a Naturalized Citizen on July 24, 1923. By 1940 the entire family was living in Andover and owned a clothing manufacturing company, Grieco Brothers, at 181 Canal St. in Lawrence, MA. Vito was living in Shawsheen Village at 9 Sherbourne St. and his brother Nicholas and parents were at 40 Williams Street just around the corner.

Florence Grieco purchased three house lots from Henry K. Jenkins and Evelyn Jenkins on Feb. 7, 1945. The lots were sub-divided in April 1941 (see Land Court plan #4162-E lots 1F, 1G & 1H). The parcels are on the west side of Sunset Rock Rd, adjoining each other and just one lot south of the corner of Ballardvale Rd. The deed gives 160 Cabrine Bvd. NYC as the address of Florence & Vito Grieco at the time of purchase.

After WWII Vito and Florence had moved to Sunset Rock Rd. Frank Lloyd Wright was initially commissioned to build a house for the Grieco family. After all the plans were drawn and construction was planned, a disagreement on a window in one of the bathrooms forced the couple to choose another architect. Embracing the modernist style, they were inspired by Marcel Breuer's house designs and hired him to design a new house for them.

The Grieco family was living at Sunset Rock Road by 1947. It appears the Griecos may have lived in another home before building the Breuer house in 1955. It has been stated that George Laaff, once seeing the Grieco home, hired Breuer to design a new home for them on Reservation Rd.

Vito and Florence deeded the southern most lot 1G at the corner of Arcadia Rd & Sunset Rock to their daughter Alda on Dec. 7, 1950. Alda had married Julius N. Cesarini, and they built their contemporary home next door to her parents at 85 Sunset Rock Road. The remaining tow lots were combined into one lot. The Grieco's retired to Florida and sold their home to Paul & Ruth Kleven on Dec. 27, 1962. Vito died in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl in Feb. 1975.

The property was transferred into Ruth's name on Nov. 25, 1964. Paul Kleven was b. in 1910 and was a shoe manufacturer. Ruth was b. in 1912 and sadly died on Oct. 29, 1974. Paul was heir and took title on Mar. 15, 1977. The Kleven family would enjoy ownership of the home for 42 years selling in 2007 after the death of Paul Kleven. Jack Kleven & Diane Savrann were the temporary Executors of his estate and sold the home on Aug. 14, 2007 to Alfred J. & Anne Hammond.

Alfred J. & Anne Hammond owned the home for seven years then selling to Andrea Rutherford on July 24, 2014.

Rob Meijers purchased the home in March 2020. His wife, anthropologist Aslihan Sanal, has an abiding interest in Breuer and the Bauhaus movement, particularly the work of artist Paul Klee. She found evidence of Klee's influence in Breuer's architectural design for the house, both its exterior and interior spaces, and grounds. Her essay, "Through Breuer's Thinking Eye: The Grieco House" follows.

Through Breuer's Thinking Eye: The Grieco House, by Aslihan Sanal

Syracuse University is the repository for the Marcel Breuer archive and holds the letters, and communication between Breuer, his firm and Vito Grieco, including photographs and construction details.


Essex Northern Registry Deeds, Land Court, Lawrence, MA
Land Court Plan - #4162-E - April 1941 four parcels
See also 81 Reservation Road

Walter Sanborn - June 12, 1906 - Cert. title #137
Frederick A. & Lillie T. Wallace - Sept. 6, 1928 - Cert. title #1669
Arthur H. Farnham - June 21, 1929 - Cert. title #1729
Ruth M. Jenkins - July 6, 1931 - Cert. title #1870 - b. 13 p. 81
Ruth M. Jenkins and John Lamprey - June 13, 1941 - Cert. title #2616
Henry K. Jenkins & Evelyn Jenkins - Apr. 23, 1942 - Cert. title #2710 b. 18 p. 441
Vito & Florence S. Grieco - Cert. title #Feb. 7, 1945 - Cert. title #2968 - three lots
Catherine F. Cushin - Feb. 9, 1962 - Cert. title #5199 deed transfer
Florence D. Grieco - Feb. 14, 1962 - Cert. title #5200
Ruth D. Kleven - Dec. 27, 1962 - Cert. title #5327 b. 36 p. 109
Ruth D. Kleven - Mov. 25, 1964 - Cert. title #5621
Ruth D. Kleven estate, Paul Kleven - Mar. 15, 1977 - Cert. title #7659 b. 51 p. 441
Paul Kleven estate, Jack Kleven & Diane Savrann, Temp. Exts - Aug. 14, 2007 -
Alfred J. & Anne Hammond - Aug. 14, 2007 - Cert. title # 15720 Doc. #94804
Andrea Rutherford - July 24, 2014 - Cert. title # 17143
Rob Meijers - March 27, 2020 - Ctf. #18390

Inventory Data:

StreetSunset Rock Rd
PlaceScotland District
Historic DistrictAndover Historic Building Survey
Historic NameVito & Florence Grieco House
Present Useresidence
Original Useresidence
Construction Date1954 - 1955
Architectural StyleInternational
Architect/BuilderMarcel Breuer
Roofasphalt/gravel- flat
Acreage1.070 acres
Map and parcel99-18
Recorded byStack/Mofford, James Batchelder, Karen Herman
OrganizationAndover Preservation Commission
Date entered1975-77, 5/15/2015, 7/6/2022