St. Marks Episcopal Church, New Canaan, CT


Here we see a modernist church with a nod to Gothic architecture set in the town of New Canaan, itself a hotbed of modern design. It was designed by the prominent Connecticut firm of Sherwood, Mills, and Smith in 1959-61. 

The building is striking and vertical, with a tall belltower dominating the elevation. The church does not face the street and instead is approached via a square drive that passes other buildings on the site, both older and contemporaneous, so that the entire complex has a campus feel. 

According to the National Register report, firm partner Willis N. Mills led the project and was also a parishioner of the congregation. The firm’s head of design, Thomas Akin Norton, was also the lead designer here according to his son, Lincoln Norton. Norton, who deserves further study, also led the design for Sherwood Mills and Smith’s Mutual Insurance Company of Hartford and Mills own house in New Canaan, which is still extant. 

In addition to the church building which includes artwork by sculptor Clark Battle Fitz-Gerald and stained glass by Willet Stained Glass Company. The landscape, which pre-dates the church, was significantly redesigned in 1961 by Vicent Cerasi. 


Email correspondence with Lincoln Norton, 2021. 


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Temple Covenant of Peace, Easton, PA

This Modern synagogue was submitted by reader Michael H. (shoutout to the Society of Commercial Archaeology!). Dating from 1959, Temple Covenant of Peace was formerly located in one of the oldest synagogues in the country, dating to 1842. However this structure, most recently a church, burned down in 2003. The architect was Daniel Schwartzman of New York City and the interior had Judaica by noted artist Ludwig Wolpert, although it is unclear if these items remain.





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Sears Building, Mineola, NY

For this first post of 2021, sharing this great concrete department store on Long Island from longtime reader David G.  Sadly, according to press, the current state of the building seems doomed. Which is especially disappointing given that it is a design by one of the masters of using concrete in a formalist way, Edward Durell Stone. The building dates from 1971-72. An article on the opening of the store notes “…an exterior of pre‐cast concrete stone that resembles limestone. A cantilevered overhang on the upper floor permits the use of a garden and plants.”

In addition to those details I note the screens used around the building, a typical Stone feature. And a huge parking garage, a necessity to draw shoppers in the 1960s and 70s to major shopping destinations, of which where were several competing ones in the area.

Thanks again to David for this large selection of photos for us to enjoy. And here’s hoping some of the original details can be retained in the future renovation.


Posted in New York State | 1 Comment

Mutual Hartford Insurance Company, Hartford, CT

The one thing that everyone notices about Sherwood Mills & Smith’s Mutual Hartford Insurance Company building is the enormous sand-casted mural by Costantino Nivola that takes up the majority of the primary facade. The rest of the building is a simple square modernist box. Although now owned by the nearby hospital, the mural has been well maintained and hopefully will be a sight for passersby for years to come.

Posted in Connecticut, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

St. Malachy Catholic Church, Burlington, MA

A great find through the highly-recommended Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel GuideSt. Malachy is an unusual parabolic-shaped building in a suburban community near Boston. It was designed by Tully & Sons in 1964; they also were responsible for interesting modern churches in Norwood and Reading. While the exterior is striking, the interior is relatively modest in decoration, with small, inset stained glass and stucco-covered and unadorned walls.

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Guttman Building: A Followup!

We occasionally get comments from readers and recently architect David Grider wrote in. His firm has worked on the Guttman Building, including renovating some of the spaces like the lobby. We are including here the great information and images he shared. All images are courtesy of David. Enjoy!

1. 301 Henry was a 1962 extension to the red brick building (“Pete’s House”), also designed by DeYoung & Moskowitz, in 1948 in a “contextual” style. Love that they broke free of that for the 1962 building! Here’s an image of the dedication; Pete’s House has the 6 over 6 windows; 301 Henry would replace the tenement to the left 14 years later:

2. Shortly after completion, both buildings from the same hand:

3. The terra cotta cladding at the base of 301 Henry was designed by neighborhood kids, makes me smile that DY&M made it happen:

4. Here’s the original lobby of 301 Henry:

5. And here’s our renovation. We were fortunate to be able to restore the existing glass tile, and even the Nelson-esque clock above the new reception desk:


6. Our big move was opening up the brick wall that had been between 301 and Pete’s House, and connect the two lobbies with an ADA ramp so that they are accessible (works out well for the daycare too, stroller friendly). Original glass tile on the left, with the new orange mosaic at the new openings; it came out nice:


Thanks for sharing, David!

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Guttman Building at Henry Street Settlement, Lower East Side, NYC

IMG_6167Another great one by DeYoung Moskowitz and Rosenberg, who are most well-known for the Modern buildings at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but were really around doing Modern design from the 1930s until at least the late 1960s. This one is a standard institutional design, similar to many public schools of the era, but enlivened by yellow metal panels.

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First Church of Religious Science, Midtown East, NYC


While are all at home at the moment, we are digging into our never posted archives. This is the First Church of Religious Science, established in 1927 as part of the New Thought Movement. This storefront at 14 East 48th Street was altered in 1949 for the church. However in the mid 2010s, the entire building was demolished for a larger building and the church moved to the Upper West Side.IMG_5869

Posted in DEMOLISHED!, Manhattan, New York City, New York State | Leave a comment

Fifth Avenue Synagogue, Upper East Side, NYC


A building in New York City that no one ever mentions is the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, which is just off Fifth on 62nd Street. Designed by prolific synagogue architect Percival Goodman, this is a unique example of an urban design, when his other designs are almost all freestanding structures in a more suburban environment. The window shapes, one of the only overt design elements, represent peace.


Posted in Manhattan, New York City, New York State | 1 Comment

Jack LaLanne European Health Spa, Scarsdale, NY


This long abandoned round health club sits along a fairly nondescript commercial strip in suburban Scarsdale. The main structure is a single-story round building cantilevered over a concrete entrance base. Designed by regional architect Thomas J. Walters, the unusual shape of the building may explain why it has had a hard time ever finding another tenant. It even still features a heroic male sculpture in front of the building with three plinths behind it. IMG_4358.jpgIMG_4356.jpg


Posted in New York State, Uncategorized | 1 Comment