House Proud by Robert Kellerwith Suzanne Meredith
©2003 Robert Keller & Suzanne Meredith  ISBN # 1-891444-07-7

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House Proud
by Robert Keller
with Suzanne Meredith

Architecture is frozen music.
—Goethe

Robert Keller is an original... in art, and in life his style is romantic realism. He represents a genteel aura of another century. Impeccable in bearing, manners and dress, he adds a bit of dash and a lot of class to life in the Triple Cities. Nationally recognized as an artist, designer, scholar, and professor, Mr. Keller chooses to call Broome County his home, and is involved in every aspect of the local cultural scene.

Born in 1925 by candlelight, that romantic ambiance has imbued his personality with a relish of beauty in all its forms. His first first memories are of looking up and seeing stars in the heavens and the structures on earth... houses... the creations of man. From that moment his love of architectural elegance never wavered.

Goethe expressed it perfectly, "Architecture is frozen music" ...and over the years Bob has been tuned to this melody as he owned and restored six vintage homes.

Robert Keller relaxing

It is with great pleasure that information and photos are presented about homes Robert Keller has restored. Also included is a selection of vintage photographs of houses that have intrigued his imagination, and contributed to his reputation as "house proud."


FOREWORD
by Gene Gray

I was honored to be asked to write a few words about Robert Keller's book House Proud. After all, I'm a relative newcomer to Binghamton—27 years. Binghamtonians, I've observed, don't consider anyone a longtime resident unless they can remember being given a pair of shoes by Charlie Johnson personally. But I have been here long enough to have known Robert Keller for a quarter of a century. As the arts and culture guru for the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, I quickly noticed that anytime anything remotely having to do with art, culture, local history, historic renovation and reclamation occurred, Robert Keller was sure to be either chairman, spokesman or activist member of a committee.

Keller's "Hilltop" Project
Keller's "Hilltop" Project

I think I first met him at one of the annual member shows of the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier (FASST) of which he is the longest living member. A painter in a style he calls "romantic realism," and founder and chairman of the Broome Community College art department, Keller's vibrant colorful paintings cannot be confused with anyone else's.

We also crossed paths a lot at dedications of Binghamton's Walk of Stars of which he, along with the sainted Helen Foley, was a co-founder. Keller is devoted to remembering the people who were born in Binghamton but went on to make their mark on the world's stages. Like his love for the area's historic buildings, Keller also loves the idea of memorializing these people of Binghamton who, like himself and his high school friend Rod Serling, were proud to call Binghamton their home. His book, part autobiography and part house tour, is also a loving remembrance of things past, namely the six houses he bought, restored and remodeled during his lifetime.

Another View of "Hilltop"
Another View of "Hilltop"

As anyone who has ever bought an old house knows, they are never really "done." They are always a work in progress, a lot like the man himself. While I admire architecture, I can't say I know a lot about it, but I do understand, I think, passion, and that was what Keller has brought to his constant desire to fix up, connect, and make right the houses that he has made into homes.

That's the real point, isn't it? A house is never really a home until it is lived in, and Robert Keller has lived with class, style and a sense of history.

One other thing. He is only the second guy in Binghamton I have known who can pull off wearing an ascot. (The other was the late Tri-Cities Opera co-founder Carmen Savoca who had a certain continental flair to buttress his fashion statement).

This book is a little like a snapshot and I hope he gets around to letting us into more of the life and times he's led. But, House Proud is a fine place to start.


INTRODUCTION
Suzanne Meredith

House Proud is unlike any other book. It combines a unique story of one man's love for preservation of historic architecture and his sometimes bumpy journey in this quest. Robert Keller has personally owned and restored six vintage homes. The story is expressed with style in a quick, quiet wit. Of the tales recounted not one has a predictable outcome.

Keller (left) performs in Faust
Keller (left) performs in Faust

Robert Keller is an original... and so is this volume. In art and in life his style is romantic realism. He is nationally recognized as an artist, designer, scholar and professor, who is a prominent member of the cultural scene in New York State.

Each chapter in part one showcases photographs of historic homes in the Southern Tier of New York. Many of these buildings no longer exist. Mr. Keller's account of the mansions and owners in grander days is from personal experience... a delightful reminiscence of a lost era.

Stories of nationally known celebrities who have been Bob's friends, and his designing experiences complete the first chapters of the book.

Next we join Bob in his renovation of old, sometimes decrepit homes. In his own off beat way the humor, joy and difficulties are recounted, along with dramatic photographs and drawings of the projects.

Part Two is a selection of early photographs of New York homes. Bob collected the vintage images over many years. The architectural details, or lack thereof lets the past speak. Along with charming, and sometimes fanciful descriptions, quips, quotes and comments on building features, he embellishes each page with charm from another era. His enjoyment in sharing these classic historic pictures and observations about the construction of each edifice is evident.

Anyone interested in history, preservation, the arts, or just looking for an entertaining read will appreciate HOUSE PROUD.

"...I LOOK FORWARD TO AN AMERICA... WHICH WILL PRESERVE THE GRAND OLD AMERICAN HOUSES AND SQUARES AND PARKS OF OUR NATIONAL PAST..."
—John F. Kennedy


How to purchase House Proud


Robert Keller spent his childhood in Binghamton, New York, as a friend and playmate of Rod Serling, creator of the TV series The Twilight Zone. Mr. Keller still lives in Binghamton, and honors his friend's memory as a founding member of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation. Mr. Keller will donate a portion of every sale to the Foundation.