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News May 2016

John Black Lee passes away at 91

May 21, 2016

John Black Lee, a renowned mid-century architect affiliated with the Harvard Five and a long-time resident and active member of the New Canaan community, passed away on April 13 at the age of 91. After graduating from Brown University in 1947, he worked as an apprentice carpenter for Walter Gropius. In lieu of graduate school, he learned architecture and drafting at the Illinois firm of Paul Schweikher. After moving back East, Lee spent time working for pioneering Modernists Oskar Stonorov and Eliot Noyes before founding his own practice in 1954. In New Canaan, Lee designed eight significant Modern homes, second in number only to Victor Christ-Janer, including Lee Houses 1 & 2, the Day House, the Teaze House, and the System House. Only one of these houses, the Monroe House, has been demolished. He also designed the New Canaan Field Club Buildings, one of which is currently being replaced. Lee was known for experimenting with different techniques and materials in an effort to produce more affordable housing. His work has been a regular feature on New Canaan Modern House tours, which he took an active role in organizing for many years. This year’s event was dedicated to his memory.

New Canaan Advertiser obit: “John Black Lee, 91, designer of prominent Modern homes here” (April 19, 2016) 

Lee House 2, 1956, New Canaan. Courtesy Architectural Record.