The Owner of the Alice Ball House and the Town of New Canaan Have Reached an Agreement on Preserving the House

The Alice Ball House in New Canaan, which for a while seemed on the verge of being demolished, will remain standing and may in fact be on the verge of being protected.

Cristina Ross, who owns the house (which Philip Johnson designed), called me the other day to say she has settled her dispute with the town's environmental commission. They approved her request to put a driveway through a wetland, which would allow the back of her property to be developed, and she agreed not to knock down the Alice Ball House, which sits on the front of the property, on Oenoke Ridge Road, and has become a modernist icon and a preservationists' cause since she applied for and received a demolition permit last year.

However the settlement still has to be approved by the court, and the neighbors to the rear, who are part of a lawsuit that involves the town and Ross, still have to be mollified.

Ross said that if things work out, she might be able to sell the lot to a developer, who would have to save the Alice Ball House while being allowed to build in the back. That's what the neighboring family, who lives on a back lot, does not want -- they'd prefer to see the Alice Ball House demolished and a McMansion built in its place rather than have a McMansion built close to them. The acronym for that attitude, of course, is NIMBY.

She also can sell to an aficionado of modern houses. She said she has had serious expressions of interest from a couple of buyers recently, who have returned a couple of times. I neglected to ask her if that means there are two separate possible buyers or if the possible buyers are a couple, but whatever.

For the time being, it's good news. The Alice Ball House won't be coming down anytime soon.

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