Ford House


Gates and Ford


1954


Description

The Ford House is set on a highly manicured, flat site with extensive landscaping. The property includes a main house, a separate guesthouse/garage, a swimming pool flanked by a poolhouse and pergola, a shed, a stream, pond, and small waterfall, and a barn at the rear of the site that predates the house.

The main house and guesthouse/garage are set low into the site and meld with the landscape. Both are flat-roofed structures finished in darkly stained V-channel vertical wood siding and fieldstone. The exterior walls of the main house are heavily glazed, although some have been altered by the addition of attached greenhouse structures. Extended end walls provide a connection between the house and the landscape, and are a design element used by Gates and Ford in other houses in New Canaan, including the Melville House (1958). Deep overhangs supported on thin piers provide shade to flagstone terraces adjacent to the house.


Significance

The Ford House was designed by architects Gates and Ford Architectural and Planning Associates for architect Russell Ford's parents, Elinor and Sherman Ford. Elinor Ford was the daughter of Lewis H. Lapham, who built the Waveny Estate in New Canaan. Elinor and Sherman Ford were married at Waveny on June 17, 1915.

According to the current owners, the Fords originally lived in an older mansion on the site. At an unknown date, Russell Ford designed a Modern-style addition containing a living room as an addition to the house. After discovering that the family spent all of their time in the new addition, the Ford family decided to demolish the mansion and build a Modern house on the stone foundation of the original house. The assessor records appear to collaborate this story; Elinor L. Ford purchased the property in 1940 and the original house on the site was removed sometime in the early 1950s. Some remnants of the original estate remain on the site, including the stone posts at the property entrance.

By 1954, the property consisted of the Gates and Ford-designed residence, an existing garage/quarters, a two-room "studio" used for garden supplies, a well house, and a new swimming pool, flagstone terrace, and pool house (also likely designed by Gates and Ford). In 1955, the garage/quarters building was removed and replaced in 1956 with a new guesthouse/garage designed by Gates and Ford. In 1957, a 22.5'x17' greenhouse was constructed.

In 1963, the property was purchased by Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Callaway became president of textile company Burlington Industries in 1968 and would establish Callaway Golf Co. in the early 1980s. Callaway commissioned landscape architect Friede Stege to design much of the current landscape for the house (Strassmann, 2008). In 1969, a 20'x8.5' greenhouse was added on to the main house.

Mona J. Strassmann purchased the house in 1975. In 1978, the screened porch was converted into a laundry room. Around 1986, a sunroom was added that wrapped around the front of the house. An addition was added to the guesthouse/garage at an unknown date, but possibly in 1978.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.