The first Modern House Day occurred on May 14, 1949. The architect Eliot Noyes chaired the committee that organized the event and the $2000 raised benefitted the New Canaan Library. The tour featured homes built between 1947 and 1949 – The Noyes House, The Gores House, The Kniffin House designed by the architects Marcel Breuer and Eliot Noyes, The Breuer House, 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 Days 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 the New Canaan Historical Society in 2001. By that time, mid-century modern homes were being demolished to make way for larger houses that some considered better suited to the needs of families. The Historical Society’s focus was to educate the public about the importance of these mid-century architectural gems. The first symposium featured the architects Richard Bergmann and John 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 under the direction of the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. Past symposiums featured Toshiko Mori, John Morris Dixon, Hilary Lewis, Fred Noyes, Stone Hicks, Sean Anderson, Michael Webb, Nader Tehrani and more.
Modern House Day Tour + Symposium 2021 will take place October 22 + 23, 2021. The symposium will be organized by Cole Akers, Curator + Special Projects Manager, The Glass House. Speakers will include Joel Sanders, FAIA and principal of JSA/MIXDesign and Bryony Roberts, award winning architectural designer and scholar. The Bishop Gallery will present Nina Edwards Anker, architect and designer; her practice focuses on sustainability at all scales of design, from interior design and architecture to products and landscape. Houses on tour to include mid-century gems from 1949 to today as well as the Glass House and PJB/BassamFellows.