Wiley House


Philip Johnson


1952


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Wiley House was designed by Philip Johnson for the Wiley family. Robert C. Wiley acquired the land in 1952 from John C. Smith, likely the same John C. Smith who ended up as contractor for the Wiley House. The engineer on the project was Eipel Engineering and the lighting designer was Richard Kelly. The house was completed in 1953. Robert C. Wiley was a real estate developer. In 1954, he would convince Johnson to design a prototype speculative house down the street from the Wiley House for the Wiley Development Corporation.

Johnson designed the Wiley House to try and reconcile, as he said, "the (perhaps) irreconcilable: modern architectural purity and the requirements of living families. Why can't people learn to live in the windowless spheres of Ledoux or the pure glass prisms of Mies van der Rohe? No, they need a place for Junior to practice piano while mother plays bridge with her neighbors" (Architectural Record, June 1955). To achieve this, he cantilevered a glass pavilion above a stone-and-glass podium, setting the pavilion at an 180-degree angle to the base. The roof of the podium provided terraces outside the glass box. The pavilion contained public spaces, including the living room, dining room, and kitchen, and the podium contained the private spaces, including four bedrooms, baths, a sitting room, a studio, a small kitchen, and utility space. Johnson also designed a swimming pool to sit adjacent to the existing barn on the site.

Johnson described the glass pavilion in 1955: "The effect from inside - quite opposite of my glass house - is that of a cage. No indoor-outdoor nonsense. The 15 foot high ceilings free the view into the high hickories that surround the house which at night make fantastic traceries against the black sky" (New Canaan Advertiser, 7 April 1955). Exterior awnings on the pavilion provided shade. The Wiley House was included in the 1955 and 1957 Modern House tours in New Canaan and was featured in the June 1955 issue of Architectural Record.

In 1960, the existing barn was altered to include a playroom, bathroom, and dressing rooms for the adjacent pool. In 1978, the house was purchased by the Archbishopric of New York. In 1979, Howell D. and Linda K. Wood acquired the property. Frank P. Gallipoli purchased the house in 1994.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.