It’s a rare occasion that an iconic home is put on the market—let alone one that the architect actually lived in. So is the case with this Marcel Breuer-designed residence in New Canaan, CT that’s listed with Houlihan Lawrence for $4,850,000.
Where: 628 West Road, New Canaan, CT 06840
By who: Original design by Marcel Breuer; Addition by Toshiko Mori
From when: 1951
How big: 5,577 square feet on 3.11 acres (4 bedrooms; 4.2 baths)
How much: $4,850,000
What makes this home so special is the fact that Breuer himself lived in it with his family for more than 20 years. Additionally, the way it stands today is largely in-line with the way he originally intended it to be—thanks to a pair of dedicated homeowners and an architect who understood that they had a treasure in their hands.
The Breuer property sits on three acres and includes a heated pool, pool house that was originally designed in 1981, sunning deck, and a Mori-designed wine cellar. The terrace features a waterfall and fern garden.
Looking towards the residence, you’ll see the original main house to the right, and the steel and glass addition to the left—which are connected by stairways that lead up on one direction, and down on the other. The main house contains the communal living spaces while the addition holds the bedrooms.
After building the house for himself and his family in 1951, they lived in it until 1975, which is when the house entered its roller coaster stage. At that time, a couple purchased the property and hired architect Herbert Beckhard—who had worked with Breuer for many years—to renovate the property. Throughout the ‘90s, the house was passed around and soon ended up in the hands of a builder who had plans to demolish the house and build a colonial in its place.
Listing agent Sherri Kielland explains that in order to preserve the radiant heated floor, she chiseled the original floor off while cataloging all the stones. After laying down the new radiant heated bluestone floors, she pieced it back together like a puzzle. She also dug a well under the kitchen area to house the mechanicals of the house.
The ceiling heights were preserved throughout much of the house while skylights were placed all around the perimeter of the main structure. The living room holds an original fireplace.
Enter the most recent homeowners, who stepped in and saved the house from destruction in 2005. As a couple who’s passionate about midcentury modern design, they refused to let that happen, and purchased the property for $2,600,000, with plans to bring it back to life. They brought architect Toshiko Mori into the picture, which began a three-year project to bring Breuer’s vision to the 21st century.
In the master bedroom, Mori custom built a bed with side drawers and lined the space with windows that are outfitted with automatic curtains—both blackout and sheer.
As an architect with a large presence at Harvard—which is also where Breuer taught—Mori shares a passion for iconic midcentury architecture and brought a keen perspective to the project. Listing agent Sherri Kielland told us that the project was a “labor of passion and love. When they purchased it, it was a shell. Mori felt confident that Breuer would have loved to see the next stage of his design.”
“Mori and the homeowners worked together to make it relevant for the current day.” -Sherri Kielland
Mori’s addition is constructed of steel, concrete, glass, and bluestone veneer. She decided to preserve the ceiling height of the main house (11’6”) and lined the roof with Voltaic solar panels.
Since Mori felt that the Beckhard addition wasn’t consistent with what Breuer had planned, she tore down pieces of it and started over with the original house. The couple and their three children lived elsewhere while Mori began piecing the home back together and adding a new steel and glass addition as well as a new wine cellar and sunning deck that sits above the pool house.
Along with a dining room, living room, and family space, the first floor holds the kitchen, an office, and a powder room.
Kielland explained to us how special this house is and that it’s meant for someone who’s going to appreciate the time and care that’s gone into preserving its history, while bringing it up-to-date.
The original Breuer structure is connected to Mori’s addition by a triangulated glass corridor that includes a graduated staircase.