Wiley Speculative House


Philip Johnson


1954


Description

Field survey was not conducted on this house.


Significance

The Wiley Speculative House was designed by Philip Johnson for the Wiley Development Corporation of New Canaan. It was Johnson's first speculative house design (Progressive Architecture, October 1955). R.C. Wiley, Trustee, acquired the property in 1954. Robert Wiley was the owner of the Wiley House (1952-53), which was also designed by Johnson and located down the street. Construction began in 1954 and was completed in 1955.

The one-story house was of post-and-beam construction on a concrete block foundation with plywood exterior sheathing. Because the house was designed as a prototype, it needed to be private and versatile: "The plan had to be flexible since the needs of the future owners were unknown; it also had to be easily adaptable to other sites--an important factor if the same plan were used on the average suburban lot" (Architectural Record, November 1955). Johnson achieved this privacy by designing a L-shaped plan sheltering a terrace with a separate garage enclosing the third side of the terrace. One wing of the house contained the den, living room, dining room, and kitchen, while the other wing contained a master bedroom and bath, and two children's bedrooms and bath.

The Wiley Development Corporation offered to build the prototype anywhere in Fairfield County for $45,000, but the Wiley Speculative House was never reproduced. The Wiley Speculative House was featured in Progressive Architecture in October 1955 and Architectural Record in November 1955.

In 1956, the property was acquired by Roland W. Rodegast et. ux. In 1958, E. Wyatte Hicks et. ux. purchased the house (transferred to E. Wyatte and Shirley M. Hicks in 1960, and E. Wyatte Hicks and the Estate of Shirley M. Hicks in 1987). E. Wyatte Hicks was an executive at the J. Walter Thompson Company in New York; he and his wife Shirley had four children. In 1963, two additions were constructed adjacent to the garage: one connected the garage to the house, and the second was attached to the end of the garage, creating a U-shaped plan for the house. A note on the 1975-87 assessor property street card noted that the house was made of "inferior materials." In 1992, Peter A. Kanter purchased the property (transferred to Peter A. and Regina A. Kanter in 1994). In 2003, Joyce D. Flaschen, Trustee, and Robert J. Miller, Trustee, acquired the house.


National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2009.