Monday, December 11, 2006

A Notable Modern House Near Compo Beach Is On The Verge Of Being Torn Down

[Read 'Modern,' our new modern house blog, here.]

It turns out that
New Canaan isn’t the only place where important modern houses are torn down to make way for ugly neo-colonials or single-style monstrosities. It happens in Westport too.

An email came in the other day from an architect who was letting a bunch of modern house aficionados in New Canaan know that a house designed by Paul Rudolph, at 16 Minuteman Hill, near Compo Beach, is in danger of coming down. WestportNow, an online paper, pictured it here, and the picture generated a torrent of comments, which are worth reading.

I’m not sure what a local government can or should do in a case like this, but it’s obviously true that for a house to be preserved it either has to be donated or, if not, put on the market for a price that someone who knows its architectural value is willing to pay. Publicity helps, particularly among people who know and admire modern houses. One example: when a guide took a bus full of people past a Marcel Breuer house, on West Road, during the New Canaan Historical Society’s 2004 Modern House Day, and told those on the bus that a developer was about to buy it and tear it down, someone on the bus decided to buy it instead.

(To give you an idea of how wide-ranging and sophisticated my knowledge of modern architecture is, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about a visit to New Haven and the Yale Art Gallery, which Louis Kahn designed and which just reopened after a renovation. I wrote:

I’m not sure who designed the Yale School of Architecture building, though. It’s across York Street from the Yale Art Gallery and is notable for its awfulness.

Then I read this, in today’s Times, and learned that (surprise) Paul Rudolph designed it. Nevertheless, it's still ugly.)

[For more on the issue, see The Destruction of Paul Rudolph's Micheels House in the right hand column.]



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