Bremer House


Eliot Noyes


1951


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Bremer House was designed by architect Eliot Noyes for Nina and Paul Bremer. According to Nina Bremer, her husband Paul had been injured while serving in the Navy and was bedridden. While he was recuperating, they decided to build a house and wanted something modern but weren't sure exactly what that meant. She reached out to her friend Eliot Noyes, who drew up a conservative plan for a house, thinking that's what the Bremers wanted. When Nina told him she didn't think it was interesting, Noyes was elated and tore up the plan. The next day, he had drawn what she called the "upside-down house," which they loved. Nina said, "El was a lot like the rest of us - young, had been through the war, had young kids. He understood us" (Fairfield County Magazine, October 2000, 58). The Bremer House was constructed by builders Borglum & Meek and was completed in 1951.

Noyes was inspired to create the "upside-down house" by Le Corbusier's Villa Savoie in Poissy, France (House & Home, February 1953). The Bremer House has a deeply overhanging upper floor supported on thin columns. The house was designed on a modular plan with 11'6" bays. Concrete-filled pipe columns partially supported the roof. The upper floor was zoned into public and private spaces: one half contained the kitchen, living room, and dining room, and the other half contained four bedrooms, a dressing room, and two baths. The lower floor contained the service spaces: an entryway, bedroom, bath, playroom, laundry room, dumbwaiter, and heating room. A partially covered open porch extended across the front of the upper floor with a terrace below. One half of the open porch is a deeper, room-sized volume, open to the sky.

The Harvard Five often congregated at the Bremer House for parties. The house was included on the second Modern House Tour in New Canaan in 1952. It was also featured in the February 1953 issue of House & Home, which noted its practical aspects, including placing the living spaces upstairs for a better view; recessing the lower level so it was shaded and provided with a covered play terrace for use in the rain; stacking the kitchen above the utility space so the two could be connected by a dumbwaiter; and using an "economical flat roof, sloped gently toward a central drain, the only kind of roof that is drip and icicle-proof in New England winters and requires no messy gutters" (House & Home, February 1953).

Around 1953, a 24'x24' guesthouse designed by Eliot Noyes was completed. The kitchen and bedrooms were remodeled around 1968. In 1969, a pool was constructed. In 2004, Stephen Dayton acquired the property.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.