Sited on a wooded parcel fronting the Five Mile River, the Barlow House has been substantially altered since its original construction. The house was built as a modest slab-on-grade, one-story frame house with vertical wood siding and broad expanses of glass. The house had two bedrooms and a large, combined living/dining space that opened onto a paved terrace. In an original rendering by Johansen, the house is shown as having a flat or shed roof with deeply cantilevered eaves, but was constructed with shallow gable roofs composed of redwood trusses as suggested by builder Hobbs Inc. to allow complete freedom in the interior layout.
Johansen designed the earliest alterations and additions for the house, which were completed in 1953. The work substantially expanded the modest house and included additions to accommodate a dining room, a den, and a master bedroom suite. A freestanding, one-car garage, connected to the house by a breezeway, was also built at this time.
In 1971, architect Zane Yost designed a new master bedroom suite for the house and expanded the kitchen and garage. The terrace at the back of the house and the stone walls at the front of the house were rebuilt in 1988. In 2005, the original windows were replaced, the terrace and front patio were reconstructed, the landscaping was redesigned, and the interiors were remodeled by the current owner, an architect.
Built to the designs of architect John M. Johansen for Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Barlow, the Barlow House was completed in 1950 and was one of Johansen's first house commissions in New Canaan. Because of the extensive changes to the property, Johansen no longer feels that this house reflects his design. The original property cards for the house do not appear to be in the files of the New Canaan Historical Society, so it has not been possible to trace the early history of alterations and ownership.
In 1979, Stephen and Jane Raye purchased the parcel. It was then sold to Richard and Marianne Thomas in 1989. The Thomas family still owns the property today.