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Join us on April 11 @ 6 PM for the Launch of New Canaan Modern by Gwen North Reiss


Published by the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, Gwen’s new book is a fascinating look at what the New Canaan community has done to preserve and protect the architecture that makes this Town internationally famous. Gwen will speak about her project and sign books, copies of which are available for sale for $45.

About the book:

In the 1990s, when New Canaan’s historic modern houses were quietly being demolished, preservationists, architects, and other residents who understood their significance, banded together to try to save them. Among New Canaan’s historic modern structures are houses by Bauhaus luminary Marcel Breuer and the other members of the Harvard Five—Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, and Eliot Noyes—as well as Willis Mills, Victor Christ-Janer, John Black Lee, Alan Goldberg, Hugh Smallen, Allan Gelbin, James Evans, Gates and Ford, and many others who were drawn to New Canaan in the postwar years. In addition, Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Durell Stone each designed one house in New Canaan.

In the crisis years of the late 1990s and early 2000s, historic listings, educational programs, a change to the zoning regulations, and several other initiatives helped these houses survive. New Canaan Modern: A Preservation History is a record both for and about the New Canaan community, focusing on its efforts to rescue modern houses and reset the course of their history. Illustrated with vintage and contemporary architectural photography, the book includes both a historical narrative on preservation efforts and a selection of interviews with recent or current owners who took on the complex work of restoration and renovation. 

About the author:

Gwen North Reiss began writing articles about New Canaan’s modern houses in 1999. Her work has appeared in DOCOMOMO’s international Journal, The New York Times, Preservation, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, Connecticut Explored, and other publications. She has a degree in Combined Literature from Yale, and her published work includes poetry as well as writing about art and architecture. A long-time resident of New Canaan, she is the author of a poetry chapbook, Notes on Metals, and a co-author of Oaxacan Folk Art: Response to Covid-19, which was designed and edited by Alan Goldberg and published in collaboration with the Mexican Museum in San Francisco. She is part of the education staff at The Glass House and has conducted oral-history interviews with artists and architects who have close ties to the site. She also serves as a consultant for Silvermine Arts Center. Reiss has participated in the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society’s many projects on modern architecture.