Christ-Janer House


Victor Christ-Janer


1949


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Christ-Janer House was designed by architect Victor Christ-Janer for his family. Christ-Janer had moved to New Canaan in the late 1940s after stopping in town by chance when his car broke down on the way to New York City from New Haven. While he and his wife were driving around trying to find the highway, his wife saw a piece of land on Frogtown Road where she wanted to live. A week later, in August 1948, Victor and Elizabeth W. Christ-Janer purchased the lot (Ely, 12, 15).

From an examination of the assessor property field cards, it appears that the Christ-Janer House was completed between 1949 and 1952, possibly in two distinct phases. The chronology of construction is difficult to ascertain without viewing the house. The earlier field card shows a long, narrow footprint with a slight L-shape. The house was clad in vertical wood siding and glass. Notes on the cards read: "Oct. 1, 1949 incomplete" and "1952 complete house." A sketch plan from the early 1950s shows an expanded house with curving stone retaining walls extending perpendicular from the center of the house on both sides, three grape arbors with trellises supported on posts, and new stone walls on parts of the exterior of the building. A 1955 note in the assessor property street card states, "very attractive use of low cost materials."

The Christ-Janer House was featured in an August 1952 article in Holiday Magazine along with Noyes House 1, the Johansen House, Breuer House 2, the Glass House, and the Gores House. The Christ-Janer House was described as follows: "Victor Christ-Janer gets an extraordinary feeling of space in [a] small house by making it possible to see through glass in three or four directions from almost any point in the house, and by a long, sweeping hall which carries across a 'bridge' above an open patio on the lower floor. This opening can be made into an additional children's room; when the children have grown up and left, the patio can be restored" (Holiday Magazine, August 1952, 50).

Between 1958 and 1959, a 15'x16.5' wing and crushed stone terrace shielded by a stone wall were added to the house. In 1961, an A-frame children's playhouse was constructed. In 1966, a two-story concrete-block studio was completed. The assessor noted that the exterior concrete block "is a special type of blk. & constr." The studio contained a sleeping loft and a kitchenette. Between 1982 and 1983, a flat-roofed, concrete-block workshop was constructed. In 1984, a greenhouse was added to the property.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.