Thursday, January 18, 2007

“The house has been demolished”

[Read 'Modern,' our new blog about mid-century modern houses, here.]

While I was following the futile fight to keep developer David Waldman from demolishing Paul Rudolph’s Micheels house in Westport, I was also spending some time with Bill Earls’ new book, “The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Mid-century Modern Houses by Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, and Others.”

For someone who is a writer, it’s an odd book to read, because there’s hardly anything written by the author – just a brief introduction and a handful of short captions. But it includes terrific photos of a sizeable number of New Canaan’s modern houses, and it reprints a really good essay, called “New Canaan Modern: The Beginning 1947-1952,” written by Jean Ely and published in 1967 in the New Canaan Historical Society Annual.

What really struck me though about the book was to see in black and white the partial documentation of a history in New Canaan that is as shameful as Westport’s – that is, the history of knocking down modern houses and replacing them, presumably, with obnoxious mcmansions.

Earls has photos of eight such houses:

Noyes house, designed by Eliot Noyes in 1947: “The house has been demolished.”

Kniffen house, by Noyes and Marcel Breuer, 1949: “The house has been demolished.”

Johansen house, designed by John Johansen, 1949: “The house has been demolished.”

Mills house, designed by Breuer, 1949: “The house has been demolished.”

Dunham house, designed by Johansen, 1950: “The house has been demolished.”

Stackpole house, designed by Noyes, 1951: “The house has been demolished.”

Riley house, designed by Chauncey Riley, 1952: “The house has been demolished.”

Goode house, designed by Johansen, 1953: “The house has been demolished.”



Blogger Tamara said...

So sad. No doubt, the houses that have replaced the demolished ones are awful monstrosities which the new owners, because they lack taste, probably think are grand.

Idiots, all of them.

10:41 AM  

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