Mills House 1


Sherwood, Mills and Smith


1939


Description

Field survey was not conducted on Mills House 1.


Significance

Architect Willis N. Mills acquired the property for Mills House 1 in 1938. He designed a house for his family, which was completed between 1938 and 1939. According to an article written by Mills's wife Esther, the house "attracted the stares and amazed comments of New Canaan" during its construction (Esther Mills, 1951). Mills would later come to prominence as a partner in the Sherwood, Mills & Smith firm and would design several residences and public buildings in New Canaan. Mills graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1929 where he received a traditional Beaux-Arts education, unlike many of the architects who would come to New Canaan in the post-World War II period.

Mills's simple house had a gable roof, horizontal beadboard and flush wood siding, and a fairly standard plan, although the living room and dining room were open to each other. The most unusual aspects of the house were the steel casement sash, corner window units, glass block, brise-soleil, the cut-out second-floor corner porch, outdoor living space with exterior fireplace, and the extensive use of glass at the rear, more private side of the house.

The May 1944 issue of Pencil Points, published six years after construction began, featured a four-page spread on the house, remarking on the careful planning of the interior: "[U]nusual attention has been given to improved arrangement and location of familiar facilities. A good instance is the placement of laundry equipment on the ground floor'a convenient arrangement of utilities that are too often relegated to the basement for no obvious reason." The article also pointed out that the house design was suited to the area: "more and more new New England houses have been built that are both congenial with the region and suited to the tastes of twentieth-century livers. It is agreeable to publish such a house that an architect designed for his own family" (Pencil Points, May 1944, 65-68).

In 1956, Willis N. Mills completed Mills House 2 and sold his first house to Alfred A. Muenchen. In 1962, the existing porch on the east side was enclosed. In 1964, Norman S. Hewitt acquired the house. According to a realtor listing for the house, the property included a two-stall barn. In 1968, Lynn D. Bannister purchased the property. In 1974, the one-car garage was converted to a living space, a curved addition was added to the west façade, and a two-car carport was constructed by extending the roofline of the former garage. A fieldstone patio along the west side and rear of the house was also constructed at an unknown date.

In 2006, Edward G. Mellick, Trustee of the New Canaan Country Day School, acquired the house.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.