Monroe House


John Black Lee


1968


Description

The Monroe House is a long, low-slung, one-story house constructed on a steep hill overlooking a valley and the Five Mile River. The hipped roof originally cantilevered dramatically at both ends; one end sheltered a deck, and the other end sheltered a carport. The carport was enclosed as a two-car garage at an unknown date.

The house features a full-height basement level at its south and west sides. A deep overhang extends around the perimeter of the building. The long west elevation has a cantilevered deck that serves as an overhang to protect the lower level of the house. A spiral staircase leads from the deck to the ground-level patio, swimming pool, and a playhouse/poolhouse.


Significance

The Monroe House was constructed in 1968 on a stretch of Brookwood Lane that was extended in 1964 for new development. All of the houses in the new development had to conform to an easement that protected the view of the valley from a house on Country Club Road. The original owner, Andrew P. Monroe, Jr., was a vice president of Uniweb International, Inc.

The Monroe House was designed by architect John Black Lee. Lee devised an innovative roof framing system consisting of steel and wood flitch plates and a three-dimensional truss hanging off of two chimneys. This allowed uninterrupted views of the valley from the house. According to Lee, the system caused some controversy with the local building inspector (Lee, 2008).

The Monroe House was part of the "Bicentennial House Tour" held by the New Canaan Historical Society in 1975.

In 1969, a swimming pool was constructed on the property. In 1971, a small addition at the basement level under the cantilevered deck was completed. At an unknown date, likely after 1988, the carport was enclosed to create a two-car garage, altering the symmetrical cantilevered roofline.

According to the assessor records, the property title is as follows: James M. and Susan R. Dillon acquired the property in 1988; Peter M. and Diane E. Thom purchased the property in 1998, and Alan M. Engelson acquired the house in 2000.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.