Saturday, June 24
10 am – 4 pm, rain or shine
The tour features two mid-century modern homes as well several next-generation homes and gardens.
This year’s tour explores a lesser-known aspect of the town’s history: the expansion of dwellings beyond the town center in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the introduction of a cutting-edge architectural style. There was little new building in Norwich during the period of population loss in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and as a result there are few examples of Victorian, Arts and Crafts, or Art Deco style buildings in town.
Explore Mid-Century Modern Norwich on the Tour
Between 1954 and 1974, however, a dozen low-slung homes of the style now known as mid-century modern popped up on the hillside behind Bloody Brook. Growing out of the indigenous style pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright and the internationalism of the Bauhaus school, these homes, often architect designed, featured the abundant windows and open interiors that were seen as promoting modern, post-war American family life. This was not the first large-scale conversion of farmland to housing in Norwich (the Hazen farm had been developed in the 1920’s – 1940’s, producing the Hazen and Cliff Street neighborhoods), nor was it to be the last, but it is distinctive for the infusion of modernism and internationalism into an otherwise traditional setting.
Visitors may want to start at a modern aerie and Japanese garden in the Hawk Pine neighborhood (itself designed and developed by Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architect Robert Carl Williams) then proceed to two iconic mid-century modern dwellings, one designed by Aaron Gelbin, an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright.
Be sure to stop in at NHS either before or after the tour to take in the Mid-Century Modern exhibit, which explores the architectural history of the movement in its broad and local context. The exhibit opens June 16 with a talk by Vermont State Architectural historian Devin Colman and runs through October.