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News July 2014

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Kudos for two Connecticut Modern properties—PART TWO, The Steel House

July 5, 2014

This year’s Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation Awards, bestowed in April, flew under our e-news radar. The two Modern properties receiving awards are so unique and deserving of our praise we want to extend this belated recognition.

The Steel House at Connecticut College, New London, CT
Named not for its owners, but because it is a prefabricated house made of steel, the 800-square-foot Steel House was manufactured by Chicago-based General Houses Inc. and erected in 1933 for use as a private home. Connecticut College acquired the house in 1949 and used it for faculty housing until 2004, after which oxidation got serious.

The Steel House is a rare example of very early prefabrication experiments aimed at creating affordable housing during the Depression. The College undertook a seven-year effort that included research, documentation and a National Register listing. A full restoration began in 2011. The conservation firm Materials Conservation Company dismantled the house and shipped the parts to Philadelphia for cleaning and repair. By 2013 they were reassembling the house on its former foundation for use as the College’s Office of Sustainability. What a more appropriate model of sustainability than reuse?

Funding for the project came from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, the Dr. Scholl Foundation, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and several family foundation gifts to the College.

The Steel House, 1933, Connecticut College, New London, CT. Shown before and after restoration. Photo: Josh Stoffel, Connecticut College