For Lee, New Canaan was a “laboratory,” an atelier, in which architects experimented with ideas of what a house could be in a changing world.
— Gwen North Reiss on behalf of The Glass House

John Black Lee 



Born in Chicago in 1924, Lee enrolled at Brown University in 1942 to study mathematics, civil engineering and naval science. He left his studies to join the military, and after serving in the Navy on the Pacific front during World War II, he returned to Brown, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1947.

After graduating from Brown, he worked as an apprentice carpenter for Walter Gropius in Chicago. Lee was recruited by Paul Schweikher (then dean of the Yale School of Architecture) to join his Illinois firm, Schweikher & Elting, where he learned architecture and drafting.

Moving to the east coast, Lee worked for the pioneering architects Oskar Stonorov, followed by Eliot Noyes.

In 1952 Lee designed his first family home Lee House 1. John Black Lee went on to establish his own practice, John Black Lee & Associates in 1954.


Lee designed and built Lee House 2 on Chichester Rd in 1956. Teaze House was built in 1961 and the Day House in 1966. It was said that all of John Black Lee's houses had a Miesian sense of proportion.

John Black Lee's designs are beautifully documented and illustrated in The Harvard Five in New Canaan by William D. Earls, AIA,

John Black Lee passed away 13 April 2016 in his beloved town of New Canaan at the age of 91.


Harrison DeSilver


Harrison DeSilver was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914. DeSilver graduated from Columbia in 1953 with a degree in architecture. He made his way to New Canaan in 1960 after attending one of the New Canaan Modern House Tours. He was inspired by what he saw and indeed the unique community of architects that had descended on the town.

He was notoriously shy and very modest when it came to his professional work.

DeSilver House was one of the first projects that he designed with John Black Lee. DeSilver House was completed in 1961 and in time to be part of the 1961 Modern House Tour in New Canaan.

The professional partnership between John Black Lee + Harrrison DeSilver extended for well over 20 years.

With sincere gratitude to Albert Flynn DeSilver for his generosity in talking with me.




MId-Century Home

The Spaces Magazine

The Harvard Five in New Canaan, William D. Earls, AIA.

The New Canaan Mid Century Modern Houses Survey

Dwell Magazine

1964 Award Winners



Modern House Tours

The New Canaan 1961 Modern House Tour