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MID-CENTURY MODERN ARCHITECTURE

New Canaan is widely known for its scores of houses designed in the decades after World War II by some of the nation’s best architects. At the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, we have embraced the Modern movement and are at the forefront of efforts to appreciate and preserve that legacy.

In 2002, when it became clear that mid-century modern homes were being torn down, the NCM&HS revived the Modern House Day Tour + Symposium.  This biennial event showcases some of the most important houses from the 1950s and ’60s.  The symposiums feature renowned architects and designers in discussions around this architecture and its legacy.  The next MHDT+S is scheduled for October 22 and 23, 2021. 

Our Library contains an important collection of archival material about the mid-century modern architecture in New Canaan.  Although currently closed for restoration, we also operate and maintain the Gores Pavilion in Irwin Park.

The Society was also a lead sponsor of the groundbreaking Modern Homes Survey, which identified 91 modern houses in the community and created a set of evaluation criteria.

MODERN HOUSE
DAY TOUR + SYMPOSIUM

The first Modern House Day was on May 14, 1949.  The architect Eliot Noyes chaired the committee that organized the event and the $2000 raised benefited the New Canaan Library.  The tour featured homes built between 1947 and 1949: Noyes House 1, The Gores House, The Kniffin House, a collaboration between the architects Marcel Breuer and Eliot Noyes, the Breuer House (later demolished, the Glass House and the Rantoul House designed by Sherwood , Mills & Smith.  The idea was to showcase these fabulous new modern homes.  Following the success of the inaugural tour, members of the New Canaan Community Nursery School ran Modern House Day from 1952 through 1967, and included homes built during those years by many of the originally featured architects.

The Modern House Day was resurrected as the Modern House Day Tour + Symposium by New Canaan resident Laura Pla in 2001.  Pla worked with Janet Lindstrom, executive Director of the New Canaan Historical Society.  By that time, mid-century homes were being demolished to make way for larger houses that some considered to be better suited the the needs of families.  The focus was to educate the public about the importance of these mid-century architectural gems.  The first symposium featured the architects Richard Bergmann and Jon Johansen, the furniture designer Jens Risom and David Borglum of the builders Borglum & Meek.  The public caught on, and in the years that followed, numerous mid-=century moderns slated for demolition were purchased and restored.

The tradition of the biennial Modern House Day Tour + Symposium continues.  The next one is scheduled for October 22 and 23, 2021.

RESOURCES

The Museum has an extensive collection of books, articles and other materials relating to mid-century modern houses in New Canaan, including a comprehensive index of all houses that have since been demolished. The library also houses biographical materials on architects including Philip Johnson and John Johansen. Books on the Harvard Five, on mid-century modern architecture, and on Jens Risom and Lands Gores are also available for sale. Please visit the library Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

MID-CENTURY MODERN HOMES
IN NEW CANAAN

1939

Mills House

1952

Gates House

1958

Matthews House

1947

Sidney Brown House

1952

Campbell House / Goldberg House

1958

Attwood House

1948

Breuer House

1953

Campbell House or Goldberg House

1959

David Melville House

1948

Janer House

1953

Ball House

1960

Dagget Jackson House

1949

Landis Gores House

1953

Wiley House

1960

Edward Winter House

1950

Glass House

1954

Irwin House

1960

Irwin Pool House

1950

Barlow House

1954

Tech Built House

1961

Laszlo Papp House

1950

Tallman House

1954

Tech Built House

1961

Evans House

1951

Rantoul House

1954

Arlt House

1961

McCarthy House

1951

Brown House

1954

Naill House

1961

DeSilver House

1951

Bremer House

1954

Ford House

1962

Teaze House

1951

James Mills House

1956

Noyes House II

1962

Hall House

1951

Gress House

1956

Daine House

1962

Becker House

1951

Hodgson House

1956

Warner House

1962

Tatum House

1952

Kiffen House

1956

Speculative House

1964

Duprez House

1952

Gratwick House

1956

Lee House

1964

Dana House

1952

Roles House

1956

Rayward House

1965

Pederson House

1952

Weeks House

1957

Boissonas House

1966

Parsons House

1952

Poole House

1957

Hurlburt House

1966

Leufhold House

1952

Ault House

1957

Bacon House

1966

Day House

1952

Weeks House

1957

Rogers House

1968

Latham House

1952

Riley House

1957

Smallen House

1969

Monroe House

1952

Celanese House

1957

Ford House

1969

McDonnall House

1969

Zula Crichton House