The annual party returns to Glass House in New Canaan with a bang


NEW CANAAN – Visitors wearing bright edgy stitching, carried picnic baskets around the Glass House’s 49 preserved acres and explored its 14 structures on Saturday, as the annual fundraiser returned after a forced hiatus by a pandemic.

The organization celebrated 15 years of membership in the National Trust of Historic Preservation by welcoming 500 visitors, more than ever before, and raising approximately $255,000, surpassing previous years.

Visitors came to bid on artwork and stroll through the home of mid-century modern architect Philip Johnson, the Pavilion on the Pond, the Painting Gallery, the Sculpture Gallery and his studio at the National Historic Landmark.


In previous years, the annual celebration has drawn people from 50 states and 50 countries, executive director Greg Sages said. “We don’t have 50 countries around the world this year, but we are moving back towards normality. So close.

Sages said organizers have sold more tickets, donated art has done well in recent years and corporate sponsorships “are stronger than ever”.

“I’m extremely happy,” communications director Christa Carr said as visitors packed up their artwork and began boarding the shuttle back to the visitor center. “We did better than expected. We did extremely well.

That was a far cry from June 2020, when Sages told the Planning and Zoning Commission that the Glass House had lost $1 million due to COVID-19. He applied for compensation on the special permit. Although people generally meet at the visitor center at 199 Elm Street to commute, to comply with COVID-19 restrictions they have asked to let people park on the premises, which has reduced attendance.

Then people weren’t allowed in the buildings, due to social distancing. “We weren’t offering the same experience and we lowered the prices,” Sages said.

This year, visitors were able to take advantage of all the offerings at the property where Johnson lived with partner David Whitney.

“The crew makes the acreage look exactly like Philip Johnson and David Whitney wanted when they lived on the property,” Sages said.

Visitors strolled through a mowed grass path to the studio, a one-room workspace and library, with few windows, designed by Johnson to have fewer distractions than working in the Glass House . More visitors came to stand where the renowned architect worked until he was nearly 100 years old than in previous years, said educator Gwen North Reiss.

Several have ventured to lunch in the Pond Pavilion, which is scaled down to play with viewers’ perspective, making it seem farther from the Glass House than it is.

On the lawn in front of the Glass House, Ayodele Casel tap danced and recalled her experience as a young girl, returning to the United States after living in Puerto Rico for six years. “I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to communicate or express myself clearly,” she said, “to me, tap dancing was like another language.”

Resembling an underground bunker, the painting gallery features Connecticut artist Charles Ethan Porter. On the ground, A Colored Garden, designed by David Hartt, was in bloom with the flowers featured in Porter’s paintings, such as peonies and chrysanthemums.

A video is shown in the visitor center, called “da Monsta”, which uses software used in video games. In it, a giant woman dressed in gold stands in front of the Pavilion on the Pond. The film was created by David Hartt and cellist Tomeka Reid.

The property will be open to visitors the rest of the summer from Friday to Monday, with tours led by educators and self-guided tours on Sundays.

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