Rogers House


John Black Lee


1957


Description

The Rogers House is a one-story, A-frame structure clad with vertical tongue-and-groove wood siding painted white and a shallow-pitch gable roof. The house originally had a symmetrical H-shaped floor plan. An entry terrace and a larger backyard terrace, each finished with rectangular concrete pavers, are sited at the center of the house off of the setback portions of the north and south facades.

The roof extends beyond the planes of the east and west walls, forming deep eaves. At the north and south facades, the roof is flush with plane of the wall except over the setback portions of the facade, where the roof cantilevers deeply to partially cover the entry and backyard terraces. The setback walls of the north and south facades each have five bays defined by mullions which line up with exposed rafters at the soffits. These walls are largely finished with floor-to-ceiling glass. As with many of the Modern houses in New Canaan, the house plan was divided into zones: the central part of the building, which opens onto the entry and backyard terraces, contained the social spaces, including the entry hall, study, living/dining room, and kitchen, with a passthrough between the dining room and kitchen; the west wing contained the sleeping areas, including three bedrooms and two baths; and the east wing contained the utility spaces, including the garage, multipurpose room, and maid's room and bath. The garage was originally incorporated into the east wing of the main house.

In 1973, the house was extended to the east with the construction of a new incorporated two-car garage. The existing garage was converted into a family room. Sliding glass doors were installed between the new family room and the terrace. The maid's room at the northeast corner of the house was also enlarged. The sliding glass doors in the bedroom wing were replaced with insulated units in 1974.


Significance

The Rogers House was constructed in 1957 for Virginia D. and Theodore Rogers. Theodore Rogers was a producer for the "Today Show." Virginia D. Rogers acquired the lot in 1956. The house was designed by architect John Black Lee and constructed by Ernest Rau. Landscape architect Charles Middeleer designed the landscaping. A note on the assessor property street card notes that the building was assessed at 25% in July 1957, suggesting that it was finished in late 1957 or 1958.

The Rogers House was featured in the 1959 Modern House Tour in New Canaan. The New Canaan Advertiser described it as "exemplif[ying] an imaginative use of symmetry and the architect's fondness for oriental detail" (New Canaan Advertiser, 30 April 1959). According to this article, Lee intended the multipurpose room to act as a decompression space where a person could leave the western world behind after exiting the garage before entering the eastern serenity of the main space. The multipurpose room functioned as a laundry room, storage space, and an area for crafts, sewing, or flower arranging. Lee included a similar room in his first house, Lee House 1. The article also noted the bedroom wing: "Of particular interest in this wing'is the 'master suite' arrangement made possible by the strategic placement of doors in the connecting hall and the use of brilliant color in an unexpected way on the cabinet, closet and connecting doors." Sliding fiberglass shoji screens, made by a Japanese resident of neighboring Darien, provided privacy to interior spaces without blocking light (New Canaan Advertiser, 30 April 1959).

In 1959, Jason D. Dana et. ux. purchased the property (transferred by quitclaim to Bertha B. Dana in 1965). In 1965, Janet F. Rowley acquired the house. In 1968, David R. and Alice E. Jennings bought the house from J. Clifford Norby and Eunice R. Norby. The Jennings family still owns the house today.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.