New Canaan Historical Society has been at the forefront of a movement to preserve modern architecture in the area, as many of the original structures have been torn down and replaced.

The historical society has raised funds for the restoration of the Landis Gores Pavilion, Landis Gores was himself a member of the Harvard Five. The Pavilion will be used as a museum and cultural center highlighting the New Canaan Moderns’ legacy. It will offer exhibit and meeting spaces to artists, students, and town residents.

Recently, the historical society held an all day Modern House Tour and Symposium. Below are highlights of the Modern Homes toured.


A collection of modern houses by these distinguished architects:

Landis Gores (Beneficiary): The Gores Pavilion at Irwin Park, completed in 1959 by one of the Harvard Five group of New Canaan architects and Philip Johnson’s associate on the Glass House. Original furnishings and furnishings by designer Jens Risom. The exhibition on view, “Living Modern in New Canaan,” had its debut in 2009 at the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism Gallery, Hartford, CT.

John Black Lee, Toshiko Mori & Kengo Kuma:

The 1956 Lee House 2, originally designed by John Black Lee, one of New Canaan’s pioneer Modernist architects, is a rectilinear one-story house with a wrap-around veranda and distinctive clerestory windows. It was the second home Lee designed in New Canaan for his own family; 1992 renovation by Toshiko Mori, former chair of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; 2010 ethereal glass addition by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, his first commission in the U.S., and featured in Architectural Record.

Specht Harpman:

A new home completed in 2010 designed in the Modern style by Scott Specht, Louise Harpman and Amy Lopez-Cepero. Designed as a tree house, an ipe-clad box hovers over a stucco base that’s built into the landscape.

Specht Harpman was recognized in Wallpaper Magazine’s Architects’ Directory as one of the “top 50 up and coming architectural practices from around the world". The house will be featured in an upcoming issue of Architectural Digest.

Hugh Smallen:

The Smallen house, designed by New Canaan architect Hugh Smallen for his family and completed in 1957, is a slanted-roof house set on a sloping site in an enclave of Moderns. A five-bay glass wall opens up the public space to the outdoors. Interior partitions, instead of walls, allow light and air to flow through the house. The house was featured in House and Garden in 1964.

Eliot Noyes & Alan Goldberg:

The H-shaped home, designed by Eliot Noyes, one of the Harvard Five, and completed in 1978 after his death, separates public and private spaces in two pavilions which open onto a courtyard faced on one side by a 12-foot-high fieldstone wall.

In 1982 and 2008 Noyes’ partner, Alan Goldberg, completed additions including a seamless extension of the pavilions, a 3-car garage and guest house. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.