Landis Gores, AIA, one of the Harvard Five architects who had been Philip Johnson’s associate on The Glass House, designed the Pavilion as a winter lodge and a summer pool house for John Irwin and Jane Watson. It was dedicated in 1960 at a grand surprise party arranged by Philip Johnson in honor of Gores.
The Gores Pavilion is an architectural jewel. It has an enormous hinged glass façade and dramatic cantilevers. The façade columns draw their inspiration from Mies van de Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion. The horizontal redwood boarding provides a heavy shadow pattern prevalent in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses, and a Prairie-style fireplace runs floor to ceiling. The galley kitchen looks out over what are now the walking trails of Irwin Park. The furniture was designed by legendary designer Jens Risom.
When the Irwin heirs sold the Irwin estate to the Town of New Canaan, the pool was filled in and the Town planned to demolish the structure. A small group of New Canaan residents formed the Friends of the Gores Pavilion. The CT Register of Historic Places listed it in 2006.
Although owned by the Town of New Canaan, it is operated as a Museum under a use agreement with the NCM&HS.