This past weekend I hopped on a train to New Haven, Connecticut to join the New Haven Preservation Trust, New Haven Modern (which is an initiative of the NHPT) and DoCoMoMo-US on a tour of the modern architecture of the Prospect Hill Historic District in New Haven. Largely characterized for its outstanding examples of Queen Anne, Shingle Style, Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance Revival, French Renaissance Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style houses, the Saint Ronan/Edgehill Neighborhood is also home to a handful of mid-century modern infill houses.
Led by architectural historians Chris Wrigen and Charlotte Hitchcock, the tour was loosely based around the theme of fitting modernism into an existing neighborhood like Saint Ronan/Edgehill.
Organized as part of DoCoMoMo’s Tour Day—the annual initiative designed to raise public awareness for mid-century modern buildings and landscapes in the United States—the Saint Ronan Modern tour attracted more than 50 people and included more than 30 buildings, the bulk of which were buildings of the modern movement.
The tour started at the Bethesda Lutheran Church on Saint Ronan Street and concluded on Canner Street with the 1950s Yale Divinity School apartments and a Post-Modern house designed in 1986 by Peter Tagiuri.
The Bethesda Lutheran Church was designed by the Office of Douglas Orr in 1955-1958. The architect was H. Dillingham Palmer and the church is designed in a “Scandinavian Modern” style with red bricks, light-colored wood and an A-shape roof that suggests Gothic architecture. According to the tour guides, Orr was not a fan of the modern architecture of the time, so he relegated certain commissions to other designers in the firm. The Bethesda Lutheran Church was one of those commissions.
For some context to the modern houses we were about to see, the tour guides stopped at several houses on Saint Ronan Street, including the Adolph Mendel House designed in 1913 by R. W. Foote (illustrated below) and the J. Edward Heaton House designed in 1903 by Leoni W. Robinson.
After this brief stop, we walked over to Autumn Street to look at four houses designed between 1905 and 1967. Parallel to Saint Ronan Street, Autumn Street is home to several mid-century modern homes built as infill on subdivided parcels.
The first stop on Autumn Street was the J. Edward Heaton Carriage House built around 1905 and renovated and expanded in the 1960s by the office of E. Carleton Granbery. A former barn converted to a residence, the house features a lush courtyard connecting the interior with the exterior, epitomizing what the tour guides referred to as “California-living” style.
The Mrs. E.H. Tuttle House designed in 1956 by E. Carleton Granbery also in the “Californian living” style.
50 Autumn Street is home to the Dr. Jose Delgado House designed in 1959 by Gualtier & Johnson and expanded in 1988 by Edward Kubler.
One of my favorite buildings on the tour was the Stanley and Margaret Leavy House at 70 Autumn Street. Designed in 1967 by Granbery, Cash & Associates, the house has become the poster child for Saint Ronan Modern. While setback from the street, it is impossible to miss this bold, stunning house in an otherwise architecturally quiet street.
On Edgehill Road is the Robert and Judith Evenson House designed in 1979 by Peter Kosinski/Kosinski Architecture. The house is built on the site of the former St. Francis Orphan Asylum, demolished in 1963.
After the Evenson House, we headed to Loomis Place to look at several buildings that form part of the Foote School. Among the architects whose buildings form part of the Foote School include Perkins & Will (with E. Carleton Granbery), David Cochran & Miller, Roth & More as well as Maryann Thompson Architects.
One of the more striking houses on the tour was the John and Ruth Martin House at 55 Loomis Place. Designed in 1967 by Sidney T. Miller, the house is a two-story frame house with features that recall Prairie Style houses of Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, there’s is very little out there on the architecture of Sidney T. Miller, but from what I have been able to see, his work deserves a second look.
Finally, the tour concluded on Canner Street with the 1950s Yale Divinity School apartments designed by the office of Douglas Orr. In contrast to the Divinity School apartments which stands out from its neighbors, the Post-modern house on the next block over on Canner Street was designed in 1986 by Peter Tagiuri and fits in perfectly with its surroundings.
After the tour, I decided to explore two more buildings on my own: The First Presbyterian Church designed in 1966 by John Dinkeloo and expanded in 2005 by Christiaan Dinkeloo (son of John Dinkeloo) and finally, the Whitney Avenue Fire Station designed in 1962 by the firm of Carlin, Pozzi & Millard.
New Haven was a hotbed for modernism and within Yale University you’ll find many buildings designed by some of the leading architects of the time. I took some time to revisit some old friends I hadn’t seen in a few years.
Phillip Johnson and Associates’ Kline Biology Tower, 1964.
Ingalls Hockey Rink, 1957, Eero Saarinen
Marcel Breuer’s Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center (now known as the Becton Center for Engineering Innovation & Design), 1968.
Interior of the Yale University Art Gallery, 1953, Louis I. Kahn.
Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture Building (Yale School of Architecture), 1961.
Gordon Bunshaft’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 1961.
The Community Services Building (now known as the Knights of Columbus Museum), Douglas Orr, deCossy, Winder and Associates, 1965.
For more of the architecture seen on the Saint Ronan Modern tour, head over to my Instagram where you’ll find photos of the entire itinerary (some included here).