Understanding the term- Mid Century Modern

Understanding the term “Mid – Century Modern”

 The term mid- century modern is sometime mistaken as any style structure built between the1940’s and 1960’s. It’s more then that, a distinctive form of architecture some times called “California Contemporary”, mid –century modern architecture is usually defined through its clean lines, open floor plans, walls of glass, and the feeling of living within nature. These buildings constructed between the 1940’s through the late 1960’s by innovative architects with their simplistic styles were ahead of their time. Norwalk, Westport, Weston, Stamford, and especially New Canaan all have some very fine examples of this type of architecture currently for sale.

Some of the local pioneers of mid-century modern architecture are John Black Lee, Victor Christ-Janer, George Nemeny, and a group called the Harvard Five; John Johansen, Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, Eliot Noyes and Phillip Johnson.

Phillip Johnson designed the famous Glass House in New Canaan. This house which is on the National Historic Register was his primary residence until his death in 2005. The house and all of its out buildings is open to the public for tours.

There are developments in Norwalk that could be considered true mid-century modern style. Village Creek was the first modern development in Norwalk. Built in 1950 this forty home community was designed by notable architects like Klaus Grabe, Percy Ifill, and Edger Tafel. This forward thinking community is situated along Long Island sound between Outer Road and Dock Road.

Another mid- century modern community consists of thirty homes built between 1952 and 1955. Located in West Norwalk along five Mile River on Prince’s Pine Rd. and Alewives Rd. these homes were featured in Homes and Garden magazine specifically because of the way they were built using innovative materials and each home was sited by the developer to sit perfectly into the landscape.

Norwalk has some examples of mid –century architecture outside of these developments. A very early example is the R.P. Ettinger house designed by Kahn and Jacobs in 1940 and is located on the border of Norwalk and Westport.  There is also a uniquely designed home built in 1954 by R.W. Vansummern nestled along the Silvermine River. A mid-century home situated along Five Mile River in West Norwalk home originally designed in 1952 by George Nemeny and built for the President of the Burndy Corporation is also a fine example of mid-century modern.

The New Canaan Historical Society has been very proactive with bringing awareness to the public in regards to the many fine examples of mid- century modern homes though out their community. Check out the New Canaan Historical Society’s modern home survey. The Westport Historical Society through its exhibit “When Cool was Hot” featured many fine examples of Westport and Weston’s mid-century modern homes and the furniture designs prevalent to this style of architecture.

Information about most mid -century modern homes is difficult to find. Despite their recent construction, many of these structures have changed hands many times and their histories have been lost in the process. The mid-century modern architects are now just beginning to be recognized by the enthusiast who wants to purchase this type of architecture knowing that it’s truly a form that will continue to be appreciated for years to come.

As a mid -century modern enthusiast, I’m hopeful in the near future that the public starts to really appreciate all that this form of design has to offer. For further information on local mid -century homes for sale please contact us.

Peter Bondi
Bondi Realty Group LLC
203-899-9990

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