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49 A. Introduction to Postwar Suburbanization The post-World War II period was a boom for single- family residential construction, suburbanization, and the American dream of homeownership. More than 13 million homes were built across the country between 1945 and 1954. A comparison of housing starts before and after the war shows the dramatic increase of residential construction in the 1950s (see Table 2).80 The largest increase in housing was in metropolitan areas, with the majority (80.6 percent) of new houses built in the suburbs while only 19.4 percent were in the central city.81 Accompanying this was the increase in sub- urban population, which more than doubled between 1950 and 1970 from 36 to 74 million.82 The legacy of the postwar housing boom continues to be reflected in the urban land- scape more than 60 years later, as evidenced by the distinc- tive pattern of suburbs found nationwide. These suburbs are comprised of self-contained subdivisions with single-family homes constructed in small- to large-scale developments. Another phenomenon still visible today is the large number of isolated individual homes built on the edge of older com- munities or as infill within established neighborhoods. This historic context tells the story of postwar housing across the United States, beginning with the end of World War II in 1946 and running through 1975. The historic con- text includes the evolution of new housing styles and forms, patterns of development, and influences on this era, as well as social and economic trends. The prewar demand for suitable housing intensified at the end of World War II as housing construction had been constrained by the focus on war needs. In 1944 the National Housing Agency (NHA) estimated that for the first 10 years following the war, 12.6 million non-farm dwellings would be needed. The agencyâs report went on to state that âthe great majority of these should be provided through new construction, the remainder through conversion of exist- ing structures.â 83 Housing legislation enacted by the fed- eral government in the 1930s, which focused on stimulating the economy and encouraging home ownership, came of age and influenced residential housing in the postwar era. The governmentâs efforts, largely seen through the work of the FHA, paved the way for many Americans to purchase their own home while providing incentives and reduced risk for developers. The subdivisions and single-family homes that were built across the country between the late 1940s and early 1970s were influenced by standards developed by the FHA, as well as other commonly followed industry standards and local ordinances.84 These standards, which generally favored new construction, addressed a variety of topics applicable to single-family homes, including street orientation and lot size, room layout, and overall form and style, to ensure that invest- ments were financially sound. As a result, much of the postwar suburban landscape was standardized and repeated over and over outside large and small communities across the nation. As merchant builders became more prevalent and other smaller C H A P T E R 4 National Historic Context 80 Michael Bennett, When Dreams Came True (Washington, D.C.: Brasseyâs Inc., 1996), 287. 81 U.S. Census data in Checkoway, âLarge Builders, Federal Housing Programmes, and Postwar Suburbanizationâ in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 4, no. I (March 1980), 23. 82 Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 283. 83 The NHA used an arbitrary 10-year period from January 1946 to December 1955 to estimate the need for housing. National Housing Agency, National Housing Bulletin 1: Housing Needs a Preliminary Esti- mate (Washington, D.C., November 1944), 5. 84 Grace Milgram, The City Expands: A Study of the Conversion of Land from Rural to Urban Land Use, Philadelphia 1945-62 (Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1967), iii.
50 scale regional builders increased their volume from a few houses a year to full subdivision development, similar hous- ing in the form of standard models prevailed. Distinction and individual custom design became less common. Despite this similarity and homogeneity, distinct regional variations and interpretations of styles are evident in material choices, house form, and selection of details, as well as housing density, which was influenced by local demand and existing land constraints. Prefabrication and advances in construction materials, stimu- lated by the war, also influenced postwar residential housing construction. Postwar suburban growth can be attributed to new pros- perity, housing demand, government and private encourage- ment of home ownership, a shift in standards of living, and the readily available suburban land that was suitable for resi- dential development. In addition, the growing automobile age and improved infrastructure, through new roads and the Interstate Highway System, contributed to suburban develop- ment further from citiesâ central cores by improving access to available land for development. It is this combination of social, economic, and political factors that shaped the development of the postwar residential suburbs, resulting in 60 percent of indi- viduals owning their own single-family home by the 1960s.85 B. Transportation Trends 1. Automobile Age One of the most pervasive reflections of postwar American prosperity was the dramatic increase in automobile ownership. The rapid construction of freeways, availability of cheap gaso- line, and relative affordability of cars enabled the transforma- tion of culture, demographics, and land use throughout the postwar period. Between 1940 and 1970 automobile registra- tions more than tripled from 27 million to almost 90 million. By 1970 the average car owner traveled 10,000 miles per year by automobile, thus ushering in a new lifestyle and the car cul- ture.86 The growth in automobile ownership and usage enabled people to commute to their workplace from a greater distance. The rise in automobile ownership during the postwar era followed trends begun in the preceding decades. Vehicle operating costs decreased significantly during the first four decades of the twentieth century as gasoline costs declined and improvements in vehicle reliability and durability were made. For example, in 1925 the average automobile traveled 23 miles per service dollar, while in 1945 this number had increased to 112 miles. This was largely the result of improve- ments to rubber tires, whose service life increased from 5,000 miles to 25,000 miles during the same period. Overall service life of automobiles improved from 22,000 miles in 1925 to 81,000 miles in 1945.87 During the first half of the twentieth century the affordabil- ity of the automobile also improved greatly as Henry Fordâs mass production techniques permeated the industry and led to a decline in prices. However, civilian car consumption came to a halt during World War II, when auto companies were largely converted to wartime production. General Motors (GM) had established a relationship with the War and Navy departments, and by the time of U.S. entry into World War II, GM already held more than $1.2 billion in defense contracts for the Allies. Beginning in 1940, Ford Motor Company man- ufactured Pratt and Whitney airplane engines for the U.S. Air Force, and beginning in 1942 Ford produced B-24 bombers in a plant at Willow Run, Michigan. Ford also became the lead- ing producer of four-wheel-drive military trucks and jeeps, while Chrysler led production of military tanks during World 1930-39 2,734,000 1940-49 7,443,000 1950-59 15,068,000 1960-69 14,063,800 1970-75 10,385,800* *Total for 1970 -79 = 17,675,800 Source: U.S. Census data accessed at http://www.census.gov/const/startsan.pdf on March 29, 2011, and U.S. Census data from 1966 in Barry Checkoway, âLarge Builders, Federal Housing Programmes, and Postwar Suburbanizationâ in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 4 , no. 1, March 23, 1980, and reprinted in Critical Perspectives on Housing. Table 2. New housing starts. 85 Michael E. Stone, âHousing and the Dynamics of U.S. Capitalism,â in Critical Perspectives on Housing edited by Rachel G. Bratt, Chester Hartman and Ann Meyerson (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1986), 51. 86 James Gilbert, Another Chance: Postwar America, 1945-1968 (Phila- delphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1981), 110, 112-113. 87 Rowe, 183-184.
51 War II. On February 22, 1942, the manufacture of auto- mobiles for civilian use ceased altogether; tires and gasoline were rationed for the remaining war years and a 35 mile-per- hour speed limit was imposed by the federal government. Between 1941 and 1944 vehicle miles of travel by American citizens decreased by 121 billion and highway expenditures and motor vehicle use tax receipts fell considerably. By the end of the war the American auto industry had manufactured 75 different essential military items, including engines, guns, and aircraft. With a total value of $29 billion, the auto industry comprised one-fifth of the nationâs war production.88 The immediate postwar years witnessed a boom in auto- mobile production to meet pent-up demand, as 100 million vehicles were produced in a mere 15 years. Not surprisingly, the proportion of cars to population changed quickly from a ratio of 1 car per 13 people (1:13) in 1920 to 1:4.8 in 1940 to 1:2.3 in 1970. Despite being a âsellerâs market,â emerging auto- mobile companies during the postwar era found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to enter the industry. Rather, GM, Ford, and Chrysler formed Detroitâs Big Three and accounted for 94 percent of the American automobile market by 1955.89 The American carâs rise to prominence during the mid- twentieth century was the result of unparalleled production and technological achievements. The introduction of the Kettering engine, a V-8, overhead-valve engine, energized the industry and essentially started the postwar horsepower race. Automatic transmissions, power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning were also integrated into the postwar car. By the 1974 model year, nearly 90 percent of full-size cars featured these options.90 Postwar automobile designâlow, sleek, and shinyâ provided a level of comfort and power that brought motoring into a new era. Although the periodâs automobile styling reflected the aerodynamic qualities of World War II combat aircraft, by the 1960s the ever-growing and nonfunctional tail fins approached the outlandish. Overall, the futuristic aesthetic of the postwar automobile conveyed the 1950s concept of âcool.â This image of âcoolâ cars, in turn, extended to the highway itself and its associated roadside culture of billboards, strip malls, drive-ins, and diners.91 The automobile transformed land use across the country as it contributed to the growth of a national freeway or express- way system, which people thought would alleviate vehicular congestion, particularly in urban areas. As the freeway system was designed and constructed, interchanges became critical to the pattern of suburban development. Interchange locations and access roads that paralleled the freeway lanes were care- fully studied not only by transportation engineers but also by developers who often used these new roadway components as entrances to their housing projects or shopping centers. Shopping centers, freeway industries, motels, and residential developments grew along urban highways and interchanges. Visually arresting building forms and neon signs along heav- ily traveled routes were advertisements in themselves, made eye-catching to attract high-speed travelers who had only moments to grasp the message conveyed through iconogra- phy and advertising.92 With the growth of the national highway program, sub- urban and rural areas were made increasingly accessible, enabling and encouraging workers to live further away from their workplace. According to sociologist William Dobriner, the heart of the suburban pattern is the commuter, or some- one who travels daily to a job in the city. Consequences of increased individual mobility, as a result of private auto ownership, included residential, commercial, and industrial migrations to the periphery of the city proper.93 2. Interstate Highway Program Although construction of the National System of Inter- state and Defense Highways did not begin until 1956, plan- ning for the system largely occurred during World War II. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 authorized the des- ignation of an Interstate Highway System, not to exceed 40,000 miles. The Interstate system was intended to connect principal metropolitan areas, cities, and industrial centers; serve national defense; and connect border points with routes of continental importance in Canada and Mexico. Transportation planners and government officials expected the system to carry 20 percent of the nationâs traffic and con- nect 90 percent of cities with a population of 50,000 or more. The downfall of the 1944 Federal-Aid Highway Act, however, was that it did not provide funding for construction of the Interstate system, but only allowed for preliminary planning efforts.94 88 James J. Flink, The Automobile Age (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1988), 272-276. 89 Flink, 277-279. 90 Flink, 285-286; Rowe, 185. 91 Alan Hess, Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture (San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle Books, 2004), 134; Flink, 286; Gilbert, 113-114. 92 Gilbert, 113. 93 Ned Eichler, The Merchant Builders (Cambridge, MA.: The MIT Press, 1982), 11-12; Mason, 90-91; William M. Dobriner, Class in Sub- urbia (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963), 16. 94 Bruce E. Seely, Building the American Highway System: Engineers as Policy Makers (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1987), 189- 191; A. E. Johnson, ed., Published on the Occasion of the Golden Anni- versary of American Association of State Highway Officials: A Story of the Beginning, Purposes, Growth, Activities and Achievements of AASHO (Washington, DC: The American Association of State Highway Offi- cials, 1965), 153.
52 With minimal funding for constructing primary and sec- ondary roads and urban highways, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1944 did not do enough to solve the nationâs trans- portation problems. It did not anticipate Americansâ postwar financial prosperity, which dramatically increased auto mobile ownership, highway usage, and commercial development. The unexpected increase in automobile usage created congestion in many urban areas and increased pressure on the overall transportation network.95 The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952 authorized the first funding for the Interstate Highway System; however, it was limited to $25 million a year for fiscal years 1954 and 1955. This was enough to fund planning efforts that had begun following the 1944 Act, but not enough to begin large-scale construction efforts.96 After taking office in January 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped move the Interstate from planning to reality, marshalling a bill through Congress that provided federal money for primary, secondary, and urban roads. This included the first significant funding for Interstate highways of $175 million. Signing the bill into law as the Federal-Aid Highway Act on May 6, 1954, Eisenhower declared: âThat gets us started, but we must do more.â97 Congress spent the next 2 years negotiating the terms of a bill that would finally get large-scale construction of the Inter- state system under way. The bill, codified as the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, authorized the expenditure of $25 billion dollars over a 12-year period for construction of a âNational System of Interstate and Defense Highways.â The network would include 41,000 miles of new roads, built to âthe highest standardsâ of safety and efficiency. The system would be funded by increases in federal gas, tire, and vehicle taxes. Revenues would be collected in a newly created Highway Trust Fund that would enable the government to complete the system on a âpay-as-you-goâ basis. Each state would be responsible for completing sections of the system within its borders, with 90 percent of the funding provided by the federal government. Lawmakers passed the bill with only one dissenting vote and pledged that the entire network would be completed by 1972.98 The Interstate system was to be significantly different from the system of trunk highways that had preceded it. As an expressway system, the Interstate highways of the late 1950s were designed to provide fast and safe mass automobile trans- portation within, through, and between metropolitan areas. The objective of the expressway was to separate through traffic from cross traffic, which included turning vehicles, parked cars, and pedestrians. Expressways featured traffic capacities three or four times that of highways and city streets of the same width. Access to the Interstate system and urban expressway systems was available only at designated control points, and bridges or overpasses were required at most intersections to eliminate at- grade crossings and improve safety and traffic flow. Within cit- ies, a spoked-wheel highway configuration was favored, which featured outer circumferential loops and connecting Interstate highways that were typically constructed a few blocks from the main downtown area, often in under- utilized, inner-city space. Highway planners favored such routes because property values and, hence, right-of-way costs were lower, and the new routes would help move traffic away from congested urban centers. In urban areas where dense construction and conges- tion of heavy automobile traffic could not be avoided, elevated or depressed roads were often constructed. Although land acquisition for rural freeways presented a daunting problem to highway planners in both alignment and coordination, it was the construction of urban freeways that presented more difficult challenges. Rather than just engi- neering challenges, urban freeways garnered political debate and hindrances that sometimes brought construction of the system to a halt. The alignments for the Interstate routes through metropolitan areas had to be drawn through estab- lished neighborhoods and industrial areas, requiring acquisi- tion of existing homes and businesses, and carving canyons that divided one part of the city from another. The new road- ways had the potential to be visually jarring, and the thou- sands of vehicles anticipated to use the new routes each day could potentially generate a significant amount of noise. In an effort to combine social engineering with civil engineering, the Interstate Highway Act had stipulated that urban high- ways should, whenever possible, be routed through âblightedâ areas. As Thomas H. MacDonald, chief of the Bureau of Public Roads, reported in 1944: Blighted areas in the large cities average 20 percent of the total area; but in that 20 percent is concentrated 33 percent of the city population; and that 33 percent of the population is responsible for 45 percent of the major crimes, for 60 percent of the juvenile delin- quency, for 50 percent of the arrests, for 60 percent of the tuber- culosis, for 50 percent of the disease, for 35 percent of the fires, for 45 percent of the city service costs with tax revenues on real estate of 6 percent. That is, in blighted areas, you have a spread between city costs and revenues from real estate of 39 percent.99 95 Seely, 191. 96 Federal Highway Administration, âThe Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways,â Federal Highway Administration, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/routefinder (accessed 15 December 2009). 97 Seely, 214-215; Tom Lewis, Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life (New York: Viking, 1997), 88. 98 Lewis, 121. 99 Thomas H. MacDonald, 28 April 1944, before the U.S. House Com- mittee on Roads, as quoted in Richard F. Weingroff, âThe Genie in the Bottle: The Interstate System and Urban Problems, 1939-1957,â Fed- eral Highways Administration, http://www.fha.dot.gov/infrastructure/ rw00c.cfm (accessed 7 March 2011).
53 MacDonald envisioned that the urban Interstate Highway System would improve the metropolitan fabric by eliminating sub-standard housing and blight, while replacing it with federal redevelopment buildings. Ultimately, the urban renewal that occurred hand-in-hand with the construction of the urban free- way system contributed to the leveling of many close-knit neigh- borhoods and erection of high-rise towers in a failed attempt to meet the housing needs of the cityâs poor (see Section C.3). An inevitable result was continued segregation as many African Americans and other minorities relocated to public housing in the central city while whites moved to the suburbs, thus empha- sizing the repeated accusation that the government was âbuild- ing white menâs roads through black menâs homes.â100 Completion of the Interstate system was generally delayed by politics, cost overruns, and the inevitable ebb and flow of federal funding. An early national goal was the completion of half of the system, or 21,000, miles by the end of 1964. How- ever, this challenge was not met until February 1966 when 21,185 miles (or 52 percent) of the system was open to traffic and an additional 5,580 miles (7 percent) was under construc- tion. In particular, the escalation of the Vietnam War in the late 1960s impeded Interstate highway progress. Although it did not bring about comparable labor and material shortages that had plagued highway planners during World War II and the Korean conflict, it did cause Congress to reduce the amount of federal-aid money available for Interstate construction in the late 1960s. Despite having an original completion date of 1972, the Federal-Aid Highway Actâs expiration date was extended repeatedly. Nationally, the system approached completion in the mid-1970s, and by 1980, it was essentially complete, with some exceptions for more controversial urban links.101 3. Non-interstate Freeways and Improved Highways While states across the nation were busy building segments of the entirely new Interstate system, many were also fulfilling a responsibility to modernize their state highways. In an effort to provide safe and adequate thoroughfares, in the postwar era many states began programs to upgrade portions of their state highway system to expressway standards. Efforts to modern- ize highways often incorporated many of the same controlled- access highway design principles that were being used for the Interstates. In many cases, efforts focused on alleviating traffic congestion between population centers and regional centers in the state. For example, in Minnesota a number of projects completed between 1956 and 1970 sought to smooth the flow of traffic in and between cities by transforming major trunk highway routes into expressways with features such as double-traffic lanes divided by medians, limited access, and grade separations.102 Within Texas, similar efforts included upgrading U.S. and State Highways to expressway standards, including interregional multi-lane âsuperhighwaysâ along U.S. Highway 81 and U.S. Highway 77, which were completed by 1961. Many of Texasâ non-Interstate freeways of the postwar period, consistent with national trends, were projects com- pleted in urban areas as part of urban expressway programs.103 In some cases, these upgraded expressway routes were later designated as Interstate highways. While expressway conversion was a prominent national trend during the postwar era, many states simultaneously embarked on less dramatic improvements to state highways and arterial roads, which also improved traffic flow and enabled suburban development. After years of delayed highway maintenance as a result of the war, many states used increased funding and material availability to repair neglected secondary systems to meet the requirements of increasingly heavy, high-speed, and high-volume traffic. Common modernization efforts included realigning roads to remove dangerous curves, broadening and smoothing roadways with new paving and shoulders, replacing inadequate bridges, and adding signalized at-grade intersections. 4. Urban Mass Transit Urban mass transit, which refers to scheduled intra-city service on a fixed route in a shared vehicle, was an alternative means of transportation during the postwar period as it had been for the preceding century. Generally, World War II repre- sented the peak of privately operated mass transit in the United States. With automobile manufacturers suspending production of automobiles during the war, Americans used mass transit in greater numbers. In 1946 the transit industry peaked with 23.4 billion riders; however, ridership decreased rapidly dur- ing the postwar years. With a boom in automobile production and ownership and growth in residential development fur- ther away from the city center, intra-city transportation routes proved inconvenient and inaccessible. Between 1950 and 1955, mass transit ridership dropped from 17.2 billion to 11.5 billion 100 Weingroff, âThe Genie in the Bottle: The Interstate System and Urban Problems, 1939-1957.â 101 Richard F. Weingroff, âThe Greatest Decade 1956-1966: Part IIâThe Battle for Its Life,â http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/50interstate2. cfm (accessed 9 April 2011). 102 Biennial Report of the Commissioner of Highways of Minnesota from July 1, 1956 to June 30, 1958 (State of Minnesota: [St. Paul, Minn.], 1958), 24; Biennial Report of the Commissioner of Highways of Minnesota from July 1, 1958 to June 30, 1960 (State of Minnesota: [St. Paul, Minn], 1960), 40. The number of highway separations reported in the biennial reports likely includes those on both trunk highway and Interstate routes. 103 Howard J. Erlichman, Camino del Norte: How a Series of Watering Holes, Fords, and Dirt Trails Evolved into Interstate 35 in Texas (College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University Press, 2006), 207.
54 passengers, a decrease of 33 percent. By 1960 only 8.2 percent of Americans rode busses or streetcars to work, and only another 3.9 percent took rapid transit. Most notably about one-fourth of all intra-city service riders were located in New York City, where automobile ownership was less practical.104 With the decline in ridership, many privately owned com- panies abandoned streetcar lines and an increasing number of municipalities assumed mass transit responsibilities through publicly owned transit authorities. The federal government entered the mass transit industry when, beginning in 1961, small-scale experimental projects in numerous cities were fed- erally funded. The passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 further increased the federal role as $375 million in aid was authorized for transit projectsâ capital costs. Munici- palities were expected to match every two dollars of federal aid with one local dollar. By the mid-1970s transit ridership began rebounding from the postwar decline. Much of the recovery was related to renewed efforts for rail service. Beginning in the mid-1950s, cities including Cleveland and San Francisco began constructing short rapid transit lines along existing railroad and streetcar right-of-way. Additional planning efforts for rapid rail systems included programs in Atlanta, Miami, Balti- more, and Washington, D.C. Using billions of federal-aid dol- lars, these rail systems enabled people to travel from suburban developments to the city core during rush hour. As an example of the reversal in ridership trends, the percentage of people entering the Washington, D.C., area during the morning rush hour on mass transit increased from 27 percent in 1976 (the year the subway system known as the Metro opened) to 38 per- cent in 1996. Notably, this increase in ridership and develop- ment of mass transportation programs also coincided with the early 1970s energy crisis, which limited the availability and increased the cost of gasoline to power private automobiles.105 5. Conclusion Without a doubt, the golden age of individual-oriented American transportation opportunities corresponded with the postwar period of 1945 through 1975 and coincided with the federal governmentâs efforts to develop a national, inter- regional freeway system. The necessity of such a system was largely influenced by the contemporaneous rise in auto mobile popularity and the inevitable congestion that this created. In tandem, these two trendsâhighway construction and pri- vate automobile ownershipâcontributed to the growth of the suburbs, changes in land use patterns, and the architec- ture of roadside businesses and single-family dwellings. See Sections E and G for detailed information on residential development patterns and garages and carports. C. Government Programs and Policies Suburbanization and single-family housing development following World War II was aided and influenced by federal programs originally instituted during the Great Depression to address housing needs and employment. Programs of the FHA, instituted with the National Housing Act of 1934 (Act), transformed home financing and shaped residential and sub- division development patterns. At the end of World War II, the Veteranâs Administration (VA) assisted veterans with mortgage support, while the Veteransâ Emergency Housing Act assisted with prioritizing building materials and surplus factories and facilities toward residential housing construc- tion. Together, the FHA and VA provided for government backed mortgages and loans that substantially increased the number of individuals that could become homeowners. While the FHA and VA programs may have had the most direct influence on postwar housing, additional government housing policies such as urban renewal and routine amend- ments to the housing act also played a role in the develop- ment of the postwar residential landscape. 1. The Legacy of the National Housing Act Signed into law on June 27, 1934, the National Housing Act began a new chapter for American single-family hous- ing and government involvement in the housing market. The objective of the Act was to make funds available for home repair and construction while providing jobs and improving the countryâs economic conditions resulting from the Great Depression. Longer range objectives were âto reform mort- gage lending practices, to broaden opportunities for home ownership, and to raise housing standards.â106 It was these policies that influenced home ownership and residential development patterns well beyond the 1930s, especially dur- ing the housing boom following World War II. At the time of enactment, only 44 percent of individuals owned their own home.107 Home loans were typically short term (averaging 5-10 years) and required significant down payments (at least 30 percent).108 The Act authorized the FHA 104 Zachary Schrag, âUrban Mass Transit in the United States,â Economic History Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples http://eh.net/encyclopedia/ article/schrag.mass.transit.us (accessed 7 April 2011). 105 Schrag, n.p. 106 United States Federal Housing Administration, The FHA Story in Summary, 1934-1959 (Washington, D.C.: Federal Housing Administra- tion, 1959), 4. 107 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 216. 108 Kenneth T. Jackson, âFederal Subsidy and the Suburban Dream: The First Quarter-Century of Government Intervention in the Housing Marketâ in Records of the Columbia Historical Society Vol. 50 (1980): 427.
55 to insure long-term loans on private homes, thus encouraging lenders to invest in residential mortgages. Amendments to the Act both before and after 1945 continued to stimulate hous- ing development and home ownership in the postwar period through modifications to the mortgage insurance program and creation of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) that allowed for the buying and selling of mortgages. The FHA administered the private housing part of the program.109 a. Federal Housing Administration Under the National Housing Act, the FHA provided fed- eral insurance for privately financed mortgages for homes and housing developments.110 The FHA did not provide loans directly, but did insure the mortgages provided by the private financial institutions if the investments were deemed to be eco- nomically sound. As a result, the lenderâs risk was reduced as they were protected against loss from default by a homeowner. The FHA initially insured first mortgages up to 80 percent of the property value with a maximum mortgage amount of $16,000 for a single-family home. A 20 percent down pay- ment was required with monthly payments amortized over 20 years. The amount the government insured increased to 90 percent in 1938 and 95 percent in 1948, allowing for lower down payments and extending the period of repayment to 25 and 30 years, respectively.111 The FHA limited the interest rate that financial institutions could charge, keeping them at a relatively low level. As part of the program, the borrower was charged a mortgage insurance premium of between 0.5 per- cent and 1 percent of the original mortgage amount. Paid to the FHA, this premium allowed it to be a self-supporting government agency. These home financing reforms with fully amortized mortgages and low down payments opened the door for many to home ownership, and Congress increased the mortgage insurance authorization regularly in the 1950s to allow the FHA to keep up with the housing demand.112 The FHA appraised homes, or reviewed plans and speci- fications if the mortgage insurance was offered prior to con- struction, to ensure the loan resulted in a good investment and met the FHA minimum property standards. For new construction, the FHA would typically inspect the home three times to see that it was built according to the approved plans. Builders were also required to provide the home buyer with a warranty that the house would be built to conform to FHA standards.113 Not all homes were eligible for an FHA mortgage. In some metropolitan areas, house prices were higher than the mortgage limit due to high land costs; therefore, this pre- cluded the use of FHA insured mortgages for some homes.114 The FHA also insured bank loans to developers to purchase land, subdivide it, and construct houses. Subdivisions that conformed to the FHA standards ensured that individuals purchasing houses could also get FHA financing. Developers submitted plans to the FHA for review and compliance with its standards.115 Some large-scale builders also had access to government credit and financial aids, including âproduction advances.â One of the nationâs largest developers, Levitt and Sons, received FHA commitments to finance 4,000 houses before it had even cleared the land.116 With federal incentives, it was more profitable for the developer to subdivide the lots and build houses, rather than just dividing the lots, which had been more common in the pre-World War II era.117 Meeting FHA Standards. In order to receive mortgage insurance, individual homes and subdivisions needed to meet FHA standards. In the FHAâs own words, these standards were put into place for two purposes: âto encourage improvement in housing standards and conditionsâ and âto provide assurance that the project with respect to which the mortgage is executed is economically sound.â118 These standards, many of which were developed in the 1930s with the beginning of the program, continued to be applied into the postwar era with periodic revisions. Finan- cial institutions often used the same standards for non-FHA insured projects. The core of the program was the criteria used in decisions to back a mortgage by rating the quality of the neighborhood. The criteria from the underwriterâs manuals of the 1930s rated and weighted several factors, including: 119 â¢ Relative economic stability (weighted 40 percent); â¢ Protection from adverse influences (20 percent); 109 Other National Housing Agency units included the Federal Home Loan Bank Administration and the Federal Public Housing Authority. 110 In 1947 the FHA was made a constituent agency of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, and in 1965, it was made part of the Depart- ment of Housing and Urban Development. 111 The increase to 90 percent in 1938 was under Title II of the National Housing Act. McClelland, Ames, and Pope, E-11. 112 Mortgage insurance authorization was known to have increased in 1950, 1951, 1953, and 1954. Checkoway, 31. 113 United States Federal Housing Administration, FHA Home Ownerâs Guide (Washington, D.C.: Federal Housing Administration, 1962), 2-3, 9. 114 United States Federal Housing Administration, Sixth Annual Report of the Federal Housing Administration (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govern- ment Printing Office, 1940), 123. 115 Dolores Hayden, âRevisiting the Sitcom Suburbs,â in Land Lines 13, no. 2 (March 2001) http://www.lincolninst.edu/pubs/253_Revisiting- the-Sitcom-Suburbs (accessed 13 December 2010). 116 Checkoway, 27. 117 Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing In America (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1981), 248. 118 United States Federal Housing Administration, Circular No. 5 Sub- division Standards (Washington, D.C.: September 1939), 1. Section 203 of the National Housing Act provides for the approval of a mortgage. 119 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 207.
56 â¢ Adequacy of transportation (10 percent); â¢ Appeal (10 percent); â¢ Freedom from special hazards (5 percent); â¢ Adequacy of civic, social, and commercial centers (5 percent); â¢ Sufficiency of utilities and conveniences (5 percent); and â¢ Level of taxes and special assessments (5 percent). One factor used to assess economic stability was the rank- ing of geographic areas. Neighborhoods that were identified as older, inharmonious, or too dense were deemed to be less desirable and economically unstable, which led to the practice of redlining or flagging these areas as not meeting standards. As a result, new homogenous suburban development was often rated as the more economically stable investment. Practices and policies such as redlining, assessment of neighborhoods, and the initial requirement that subdivisions have protective covenants resulted in racial and other forms of segregation in the form of FHA policies.120 As a result of a Supreme Court rul- ing in 1948, the FHA announced in 1949 that as of February 15, 1950, it would not insure mortgages on properties subject to covenants, and in 1963 it called for an end to racial bias or dis- crimination in FHA or VA housing. 121 Subsequently, the 1968 Civil Rights Act eliminated discrimination in the sale of all housing (See Section D for further discussion of segregation). The FHA published a number of technical bulletins and circulars that provided guidance on the standards for house construction and subdivision layout and lot development. Although many were published before 1945, the guidance and standards continued to reflect the FHAâs accepted prac- tice and were carried into the postwar period with periodic updates. The following FHA publication titles indicate the breadth of technical guidance provided for house construc- tion, overall subdivision layout, and land development: â¢ Property Standards (1936, with overall standards and subse- quent publications with minimum requirements by state); â¢ Principles of Planning Small Houses (1936, revised 1946); â¢ Planning Neighborhoods for Small Houses (1938); â¢ Planning Profitable Neighborhoods (1938, revised 1939); â¢ Subdivision Standards for the Insurance of Mortgages on Properties Located in Undeveloped Subdivisions (1938); â¢ Minimum Property Standards (1938, revised 1958); and â¢ Successful Subdivisions (1940). The FHA outlined minimum standards to receive FHA assistance in addition to desirable standards that it encour- aged. Even though the FHA loan insurance was frequently related to an individual house mortgage, the minimum subdi- vision standards had to be met âby all subdivisions submitted as suitable sites for homes financed under the Federal Hous- ing Administrationâs Insured Mortgage Program.â122 The FHA worked with real estate developers and builders by providing technical advice and reviewing applications submitted for insurance of loans, even employing land-planning consul- tants.123 A discussion of the specific guidance of the FHA stan- dards for residences and subdivisions is discussed in Section E. 2. Veteran Housing Initiative Just as housing to support the war industries was pri- oritized during the war, the federal government recognized housing for returning veterans as critically important. Passed in 1944, the Servicemanâs Readjustment Act, known as the GI Bill, extended home mortgage insurance to veterans, substantially increasing home ownership opportunities for those returning from the war. The VA guaranteed housing loans and allowed veterans to borrow the entire price of a house without a down payment or mortgage insurance. Veterans within two years of leaving the armed services or two years after the end of the war, including women, were eligible.124 Loans were approved following an appraisal by the VA, which often accepted FHA approval of plans and subdivisions.125 The VA administered its program separately from the FHA; however, it closely followed FHA practices. The GI Bill allowed for loans to be split into two, with one insured by FHA and one by VA, with veterans borrowing both the loan and the down payment. This was popular during the first five years after the war, as nearly one-fifth of the loans insured were for second mortgages supplementing an FHA first mortgage.126 In the case of dual loans, the property had to meet FHA standards.127 The success of the GI Bill is demonstrated in the percent- age of houses that were built with VA mortgages immediately following the war, representing 40.5 percent and 42.8 percent of homes built in 1946 and 1947, respectively. As the number of years passed following the war, the use of the GI Bill VA mortgage declined, with only 26 percent of the homes built in 1950 using the program.128 120 Checkoway, 33. 121 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 208. 122 United States Federal Housing Administration, Circular No. 5 Sub- division Standards, 4. 123 United States Federal Housing Administration, Circular No. 5 Subdi- vision Standards, 34-35. 124 National Housing Agency, The Facts About Homes for Veterans (Washington, D.C.: National Housing Agency, 1945), 14. 125 Eichler, 8. 126 Thomas W. Hanchett, âFederal Incentives and the Growth of Local Planning, 1941-1948,â APA Journal (Spring 1994), 202. 127 National Housing Agency, The Facts About Homes for Veterans, 8-11. 128 Michael Bennett, When Dreams Came True (Washington, D.C.: Brasseyâs Inc., 1996), 287.
57 3. Continuation of Federal Housing Policies The FHA and VA mortgage programs had significant influ- ence on housing loans and construction in the postwar period. Additional amendments to the Act, new housing acts, and other policies continued to pass, encouraging private housing devel- opment through financial incentives that impacted the hous- ing industry through 1970. FHA and VA practices promoted new suburban development through programs that favored single-family new construction, while loans for repairs to an existing house were less attractive. In addition, the assessment of neighborhoods led to a bias for new suburbs.129 The FHA also encouraged development of single-family homes in suburban and outlying areas through new mortgage programs and terms on loans in the 1950s, and amended its practices to provide incentives for larger three- and four-bedroom houses.130 Subsequent housing acts continued to liberalize mortgage insurance terms. The National Housing Act of 1954 increased mortgage amounts to $20,000, with the FHA insuring 90 per- cent on the first $9,000 and 75 percent of the appraised value for the remainder. The Act also provided 30-year loans up to $17,100 for servicemen.131 In an effort to continue to stimulate housing, mortgage terms including down payments, maxi- mum loan amounts, and loan length continued to be modified in the 1950s and 1960s through the adoption of subsequent housing act amendments. Some amendments targeted certain housing types or sectors. The National Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 allowed for larger mortgages for low-priced homes in outlying areas and near military installa- tions, while the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 provided assistance for low-income home buyers.132 Other incentives focused on the development of residen- tial neighborhoods. For example, the Housing Act of 1948 encouraged the âuse of cost-reduction techniques through large-scale modernized site construction of housing.â133 This amendment was attractive to developers of larger-scale sub- divisions, and the FHA reported that about 2,000 homes were financed under this section until it was made inactive by the Housing Act of 1954.134 Additionally, in 1950 the terms on loans for large-scale residential construction were liberalized, and in 1954 an allowance was made for mortgages for devel- opments of single-family dwellings of at least 25 houses that would qualify for FHA mortgages.135 In addition, the FHA authorized loans to facilitate the production of prefabricated houses or components in 1951, which was also attractive to the large-scale developers.136 Amendments to the Act and other government provisions also focused on urban renewal efforts through loans, grants, technical assistance, and special mortgage insurance in cities. These provisions provided tools for local governments, private enterprises, and the federal government to take measures to eliminate blight.137 The Federal Housing Act of 1949 autho- rized $1 billion in loans and $500 million in capital grants for slum clearance and urban redevelopment over 5 years.138 The authors of the 1949 Housing Act stated their objective was âthe realization as soon as feasible of the goal of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.â139 Five years later, the Housing Act of 1954 introduced the term âurban renewalâ instead of urban redevelopment to refer to the restoration of decaying areas.140 The 1968 Hous- ing and Urban Development Act continued to provide funding for urban renewal efforts.141 Some of the provisions of urban renewal focused on new construction, such as mortgage insur- ance assistance for special urban renewal areas and acquisition and clearing of blighted land for redevelopment. Many of the urban renewal provisions focused on rehabilitation of existing housing stock, project planning, and construction of public and rental housing.142 Additional government programs in the 1970s continued to focus on the countryâs housing needs. For example, at the tail end of the study period, the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 was intended to continue the devel- opment of viable urban communities, including improved housing through programs and grants to communities, such as Community Development Block Grants. 4. Conclusion The federal role in housing during the postwar period impacted housing location, design and layout, and led to an 129 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 206-207. 130 Checkoway, 31-32. 131 United States Senate, 84th Congress, 2nd Session, Report 1448, Review of Federal Housing Programs (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956), 109, 114. 132 Mason, 134, 135. 133 Ames and McClelland, 30. 134 United States Federal Housing Administration, The FHA Story in Summary, 1934-1959, 17, 20. 135 This was added in Section 611 of Title VI of the National Housing Act. United States Federal Housing Administration, Administrative Rules and Regulations Under 611 of the National Housing Act (Washington, D.C.: Federal Housing Administration, Revised April 1950), 1, 3; Checkoway, 31-32. 136 Checkoway, 31-32. 137 Housing and Home Finance Agency, The Urban Renewal Program Fact Sheet (Washington, D.C.: Housing and Home Finance Agency Urban Renewal Administration, 1964), 1. 138 Checkoway, 31. 139 Wright, 246. 140 Mason, 65. 141 Mason, 135. 142 Housing and Home Finance Agency, The Urban Renewal Program Fact Sheet, 2-5.
58 increase in large-scale builders. The influence of the FHA mortgage insurance program is undeniable as one-quarter of all new housing starts between 1934 and 1970 involved an FHA mortgage.143 By 1965 the FHA reported that it had writ- ten mortgage and loan insurance of more than $100 billion, covering 7.5 million homes.144 The efforts of the FHA and other federal agencies and programs allowed home ownership to increase to 63 percent by 1972, up from 44 percent ownership in 1934. 145 The role of the FHA in financing homes continued well beyond the 1970s. D. Social, Economic, and Cultural Trends In the post-World War II era, Americaâs social and economic history was defined by numerous and related overarching trends. Among these trends were economic prosperity with increasing incomes and personal financial health; shifting populations from the city center to suburbs and from the East Coast and Midwest to the South and West; increasing fam- ily sizes spurred on by the baby boom; racial desegregation resulting from the civil rights movement; rapid innovations in technology; and an increased sense of consumerism. Addi- tionally, the postwar period was largely characterized by a ten- sion between optimism in the economic health of the country and a continued persistent sense of anxiety and unease regard- ing the Cold War.146 These broad trends are discussed herein. 1. Economic Conditions After 16 years of depression and war, during which residen- tial construction lay dormant, America emerged from World War II with a dire need for housing. In 1947, six million fami- lies were doubled up in homes with relatives or friends, while another 500,000 lived in Quonset huts or temporary quarters. As a result, housing the growing population became both a national priority and a means to stabilize the economy in the postwar era. For the first time in history, housing starts by month and year became an important economic indicator.147 Residential building and suburban growth established the construction industry as a major player in many communi- ties and a significant force in regional and national econo- mies. By the late 1960s, housing was considered a consumer good, or a commodity for purchase, available to many more consumers than in previous decades. With access to mort- gages and financing, more families could purchase homes, as is witnessed by the large jump in homeownership rates. Accessible homeownership also resulted in an increased demand for related commodities, such as appliances, home furnishings, and automobiles, thus further stimulating the national economy.148 Between 1945 and 1950 new residential construction grew from one to 6 percent of the gross national product (GNP). The nationâs building boom reached a record high in 1950 with the construction of 1,692,000 new single-family houses. Generally, building construction starts remained high, totaling more than one million per year until 1960, when starts dipped below one million for several years. During this time, construction leveled off at about 3 percent of GNP by the late 1960s, at which time residential land and buildings comprised nearly one-third of the countryâs total wealth. A second wave of increased building activity occurred between 1971 and 1973, when housing starts again topped one million. The period between 1945 and 1975 proved to be the most productive period in American history in terms of overall housing construction.149 The nationâs financial health in the postwar years was marked by several factors. The anticipated postwar recession never occurred and non-farm employment increased imme- diately after the war. Employment redistributed across the country as the military and defense corporations turned jobs occupied by women during the war over to veterans. Many defense industries were converted to produce consumer goods, and the middle class expanded as the work force shifted from labor and blue collar jobs to service and professional employ- ment during the period.150 143 Cynthia L. Girling and Kenneth I. Helphand, Yard, Street, Park (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), 85. 144 United States Federal Housing Administration, Financing for Home Purchases and Home Improvements (Washington, D.C.: Federal Hous- ing Administration, 1965), 1. 145 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 216. 146 Clare J. Richfield, The Suburban Ranch House in Post-World War II America: A Site of Contrast in an Era of Unease, Uncertainty, and Instabil- ity (Thesis, Barnard College, Department of History, Spring 2007), 2-3. 147 Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 232-233; Elizabeth S. Wilson, M.E.P., Postwar Modern Housing and a Geographic Information System Study of Scottsdale Subdivisions ([ Scottsdale, Ariz.], August 2002), 18. 148 Lizabeth Cohen, âCitizens and Consumers in the Century of Mass Consumption,â in Harvard Sitkoff, ed., Perspectives on Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 158. 149 There is some debate over the accuracy of housing start statistics from 1945-1958. Prior to 1959, the Bureau of Labor Statistics kept records on housing starts based on permitting processes, which were not necessarily consistent across the country. As a result, David Siskind has argued that housing starts may have been underreported by approximately 25 per- cent between 1945 through 1958. Nonetheless, 1950 still represents the peak year of housing starts in the United States during the postwar period. David Siskind, âHousing Starts: Background and Derivation of Estimates, 1945-82,â Construction Review (May/June 1982), 4-7; Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, 232-233; Ames and McClelland, 65-66; Clifford Clark, American Family Home, 1800-1960 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 46; Wilson, 18-27. 150 Wilson, 18-19.
59 Postwar economic affluence in savings and income was influ- enced by the nearly full employment levels and relief from war- time spending constraints. During the wartime years, imposed rationing and the unavailability of many consumer goods caused Americans to save like never before. By the end of World War II, Americans held more than $81 million in war bonds and bank accounts. As a result of employment and savings, disposable income nearly doubled between 1940 and 1945. Of the more than six million families living with family or friends or in temporary housing in 1947, at least half had enough sav- ings, income, and desire to occupy their own homes. Median family income grew from $3,800 in 1949 to $5,700 in 1959, an increase of about 50 percent. As American citizens enjoyed a rise in assets and wealth, lending institutions experience increased assets. Banks and savings and loan associations began providing mortgage and commercial loans that yielded between four and 6 percent interest, a considerable increase over the two-percent yields of wartime government bonds.151 Despite small recessions in 1957 and 1961, there was an overall 23 percent rise in real household income between 1950 and 1970. Median household income doubled during these two decades, translating into increased consumer consump- tion, especially in the housing market. With mortgages readily available to veterans and nonveterans alike (as discussed in Section C), American investment in real estate grew. By 1965 national mortgage debt as a proportion of disposable income rose to 54 percent.152 Although the population generally shifted out of the central city, economic activity in the countryâs 25 largest metro politan areas grew significantly and rapidly during the postwar years. Employment increased in manufacturing by 16 percent, in trade by 21 percent, and in the service sector by 53 percent. However, this job growth was more visible in the suburbs than in the central core. Central cities lost 7 per- cent of jobs in the manufacturing and trade sectors, while only increasing service employment by 32 percent between 1948 and 1963. The suburbs witnessed much greater growth; employment increased in manufacturing by 61 percent, in trade by 122 percent, and in service sectors by 135 percent. While the central cities of the 25 largest metropolitan areas lost approximately 300,000 jobs, employment increased by almost 4 million in their suburban counterparts. By 1970 sub- urban America housed more manufacturing jobs than cen- tral cities since commercial and industrial developments used available and inexpensive land outside of the city limits.153 2. Demographic Trends a. Shifting Populations America was a predominately urban society in the twenti- eth century and prior to World War II, but the postwar years would transform the American landscape. During the 1950s and 1960s the country witnessed a migration of predomi- nately white Americans out of the city and into low-density suburbs. As illustrated in Table 3, the nation witnessed a dra- matic increase in suburban population between 1940 and 1970, with the percentage of suburban residents surpassing rural residents between 1960 and 1970. Although postwar housing is often found in suburban clusters, additional devel- opment occurred across the country as houses were erected as infill in older neighborhoods and as cities re-platted earlier plats to accommodate the new lower-density housing prefer- ences. As stated in the U.S. Department of Laborâs 1958 study, New Housing and its Materials: 1940-1956, the postwar pref- erence for detached single-family homes led to the pattern of suburbanization and led to a shift in zoning regulations within the city to promote lower density residential development.154 With an increasing suburban population, numerous cities saw a population shift; in Baltimore, the urban population relative to suburban population fell from 67.6 percent in 1950 to 43.7 percent in 1970. In Detroit the shift was even more marked, from 61.3 percent in 1950 to 36 percent in 1970. The population shift can be explained by the dispersion of jobs, housing, and shopping to the suburbs, enabled by a growing 151 Wilson, 21; James Andrew Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970 (PhD Dissertation, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Washington University, 2005), 50. 152 Wilson, 23. Location 1940 1950 1960 1970 Central City 32.5 32.8 32.3 31.4 Suburbs 15.3 23.3 30.9 37.6 Rural 52.2 43.9 36.8 31.0 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census Table 3. Percent of total population living in central cities and suburbs. 153 Gilbert, 102-103. 154 Kathryn Murphy, New Housing and its Materials: 1940-1956 (Wash- ington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1958), 2.
60 road and highway network (see Section B). As a result, the tax base of the metropolitan region shifted, affecting available public services and the demography of the city and suburbs.155 Not surprisingly, the movement of business out of the cities stimulated the suburban housing market and contrib- uted to the postwar housing boom. Between 1940 and 1970 the percentage of Americans owning homes increased by 30 percent. While American suburbs witnessed prosperity and increasing wealth, the economy of central cities faltered. By 1967 the median income of city dwellers measured nearly $2,000 less than suburbanites.156 In addition to the shift from city to suburb, the country also witnessed a population shift from the East Coast and Midwest to the South and West Coast. Between 1940 and 1970, the western United States grew twice as fast as the Northeast. The South also grew faster than either the North- east or North Central regions of the country, reflecting the decline of manufacturing in the East and Midwest. At the end of each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau calculates the mean center of population, which refers to a geographic point in the United States. Historically, the mean center of population reflected the movement of the nationâs population westward and southward. Between 1900 and 2000 the mean center of the countryâs population shifted 324 miles west and 101 miles south. Notably, the southward movement of the population occurred primarily during the second half of the century. Within the postwar period, California featured a particularly rapid population rise. As the fifth most populous state in 1940, California rose to be the second most populous by 1950 and the first most populous by 1963. Other states that witnessed acute growth during the postwar period include Arizona, Florida, Washington, and Texas. Although their total popula- tions were less than Californiaâs, Arizona and Florida witnessed more rapid relative growth during the 1940s through 1960s. Arizonaâs population increased 50 percent between 1940 and 1950, nearly 74 percent between 1950 and 1960, and 36 per- cent between 1960 and 1970. Similarly, Floridaâs population increased 46 percent between 1940 and 1950, nearly 79 per- cent between 1950 and 1960, and 37 percent between 1960 and 1970. As with growth in the rest of the country, much of the new south and western population resided in suburbs.157 b. Family Size Perhaps one of the most important demographic trends affecting the development of postwar housing, particularly the size, scale, and layout of the house, was family size, which was also influenced by age, marriage rates, and fertility. In gen- eral, sociological studies of postwar suburbs found trends that included higher fertility rates, lower median age, higher percent- ages of married couples, higher percentages of primary families, lower percentages of separated couples, and lower percentages of women in the workforce than in cities.158 As previously men- tioned, the postwar era witnessed a continued increase in mar- riage and birth rates, a demographic trend that began during the war years. With the return of nine million veterans after the warâs end, both marriage and birth rates reached an immedi- ate postwar record. Between 1944 and 1948, the United States had the second highest marriage rate of any country in the world. Almost 70 percent of males and 67 percent of females over the age of 15 were married in 1950.159 The number of mar- riages peaked at 4.3 million in 1957. Moreover, 94 percent of women between the ages of 35 and 39 were married and had been married at younger ages and with a lower rate of divorce than any earlier decade. Optimism, the improved economy, and high employment encouraged families to have more children. Thus, a consequence of the marriage boom and recovering economy was the 18-year baby boom, which affected demo- graphics and the housing market considerably. The birthrate rose from 2.2 births per woman in the 1930s to 3.51 by the end of the 1950s, while the population grew by nine million in the 1940s and surged to 29 million in the 1950s. During these two decades, the U.S. population increased 33 percent.160 The postwar family was typically characterized as âthe veteran, his young wife, and their prospective children.â161 In 1950 the average age of the suburban household was 31, and the suburbs typically featured many young children and few elderly, single, widowed, or divorced adults. Although many women held jobs after the war, as of 1950 only 9 per- cent of suburban women worked compared to 27 percent of the overall population. Women were encouraged by popu- lar culture to view domesticity as lifeâs most rewarding goal. Although predicating a stereotype, popular magazines of the period, including Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and Better Homes & Gardens, popularized a womanâs domes- tic role with features on cooking tips, cleaning advice, and stories that stressed the rewards of female sacrifice.162 Although the popular image of women during the imme- diate postwar period involved the housewife, entry of women into the workforce defined the latter half of the postwar era. In 1930, 22 percent of women held jobs, and by 1970 this num- 155 Gilbert, 102-103. 156 Gilbert, 105. 157 Gilbert, 108-109; Frank Hobbs and Nicole Stoops, U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Special Reports, Series CENSR-4, Demographic Trends in the Twentieth Century (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), 16, A-1. 158 Dobriner, 19. 159 Gilbert, 57-58. 160 Clark, 205-206. 161 Dolores Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life 2nd edition (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002), 41. 162 Wright, 256; Gilbert, 63-64.
61 ber had grown to 43 percent. The majority of the increase was the entry of married women into the workforce, and one of the largest increases in womenâs employment occurred dur- ing the decade of the 1950s.163 The modern home, which was influenced by demographic and economic trends, emphasized relaxation, children, and enjoyment. Not only did the individual house reflect these influences, but the planned environment of new communities did as well. With an adequate allotment of space for parks or even an elementary school, and the inclusion of cul-de-sacs that resulted in privacy and slower-moving traffic, the design of subdivisions created a family-friendly environment, well suited to children and individual privacy.164 Additional information on subdivision layouts and features is included in Section E. c. Segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, and Racial Desegregation In the immediate postwar years, segregation was ingrained in the policies of the FHA, the agency that guided much of the housing expansion during the period. In an effort to ensure neighborhood homogeneity, stability, and character, the FHA encouraged developers to consider their market based on income and race. The agency often demonstrated a bias against racial and ethnic minorities when it refused to under- write houses in areas where minorities were concentrated, a practice known as âredlining.â However, there were certainly exceptions to this trend, such as African American developer Walter Aiken in Atlanta, Georgia, who was able to receive FHA loan guarantees for his Fairview Terrace development. Nonetheless, by the late 1950s only 2 percent of new homes underwritten by the FHA were occupied by minority popu- lations.165 As late as 1963 residential developers in Northern Virginia, including Levitt & Sons and Edward R. Carr, contin- ued to refuse home sales to African Americans. These actions resulted in public demonstrations, protests, and sit-ins that came to characterize the civil rights movement.166 Within postwar suburbs, the FHA encouraged the use of restrictive covenants to regulate land use and enforce homo- geneity. Until the 1948 Supreme Court decision in Shelly v. Kramer, the court system enforced restrictive covenants, a prac- tice that continued informally across the country even after that date. Although restrictive covenants could no longer be listed in deeds, homogeneity and conformance was still achieved by choosing to whom houses would be sold. Tension continued to rise as newly middle-class African Americans who could afford suburban homes were prohibited from home owner- ship because of their race by informal covenants or restrictions from the sale of homes. Even while the economic boom of the postwar period increased the standard of living, awareness of class and racial disparity became acutely visible.167 As previ- ously discussed, the FHA attempted to address issues of racial discrimination with an announcement that as of February 15, 1950, it would no longer insure mortgages on properties subject to covenants. The FHA also followed this with a 1963 call for the end to racial bias or discrimination in the sale of all housing.168 It was not until 1954 and the case of Brown v. Board of Edu- cation of Topeka, Kansas, where the Supreme Court declared segregation in public education to be unconstitutional, that the civil rights movement gained ground, ushering forth a period of desegregation in all aspects of public life. This well-known court case overturned the âseparate but equalâ mandate of Plessy v. Ferguson, an 1896 court case that legally supported discrimination and segregation in all aspects of life, such that facilities were not required to be racially integrated as long as they were equal. In response and in an effort to eliminate acts of racial discrimination against African Americans and other disadvantaged groups, private citizens adopted a strat- egy of civil disobedience and resistance. The best known was the yearlong bus boycott (1955-1956) in Montgomery, Ala- bama, following Rosa Parkâs incarceration for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger. Another prominent act of civil disobedience was the 1960 Greensboro sit-in, during which four black students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University staged a sit-in at a Woolworthâs lunch counter because they had been denied service. Non- violent marches also provided a viable means for advancing the civil rights movement, as was the case of the Selma-to- Montgomery marches in Alabama (1965) and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), best remembered for Martin Luther King, Jr.âs âI Have a Dreamâ speech. Generally, the civil rights movement is considered to have lasted between 1954 and 1968. In addition to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education court case, other critical legislation that addressed discrimination included the following: â¢ The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in employment practices and public accommodations; â¢ The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which restored voting rights to African Americans; and â¢ The Civil Rights Act of 1968, which banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. 163 Gilbert, 68. 164 Clark, 216; Girling and Helphand, 90-92. 165 Andrew Wiese, Places of Their Own: African American Suburban- ization in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004), 101. 166 â8 Pickets Are Jailed at Belair,â The Washington Post, Times Herald, 15 September 1963, B-1; âHousing Project Bed-In Is Staged,â The Sun, 11 August 1963, B-46; âHousing in D.C. Area Picketed,â The Sun, 19 August 1963, 30. 167 Richfield, 26-28. 168 Wright, 247; Gilbert, 106; Richfield, 26.
62 Much attention has been given to the racial distribution of both suburbs and the central city in the postwar period; sociological studies since 1970 have made careful use of cen- sus data to analyze racial distribution and trends. In particu- lar, between 1930 and 1970, the color composition of cities changed dramatically, with the proportion of whites living in the city falling steadily and the proportion of non-whites in central cities increasing considerably. Of the cities within the 12 largest standard metropolitan statistical areas (SMSA), as identified in 1970, the non-white population more than doubled between 1930 and 1970.169 Meanwhile, the white population in the central cities decreased by almost half and increased steadily within the suburban rings of the SMSAs. By 1970 whites were twice as likely to live in suburban rings as were non-whites. In real numbers, the 12 largest SMSAs lost more than 4.5 million white central city residents between 1950 and 1970, while the central cities gained nearly 4 mil- lion non-white residents. However, population increases for both white and non-white populations were visible in the suburban rings, and while the growth rates were similar from 1950 to 1970, the absolute numbers depicted the non-white increase as being significantly lower than the white increase.170 Explanations for the different rates of racial suburban- ization are difficult and incomplete. However, housing and employment segregation certainly filtered the flow of pop- ulation from cities to suburbs. Houses in the suburbs were typically more expensive than housing in cities, and income levels may provide one factor in this racial distribution trend. Additionally, employment for semi-skilled or unskilled work- ers was still more readily available in the central cities during the postwar period, particularly with the growing number of service employment opportunities at hotels and restau- rants near central business districts. Regional differences also played a role in the severity of racial distribution, as segrega- tion was a stronger force in the South and industrial Midwest than it was in the West or Northeast.171 3. Consumerism and Technology Postwar America was also greatly influenced by a rise in technology and renewed consumerism. During the preced- ing 16 years of depression and war, consumption was gener- ally hindered and suspended, particularly by the restriction of production of consumer goods during World War II. With unparalleled cash in hand and consumer desires, which were the result of pent-up demand, increasing wages, and avail- able consumer credit, Americans were eager to purchase and indulge. Americans responded to technical innovations and aggressive mass-marketing techniques with an intense desire for the new or novel consumer good. This was especially seen in the home through the integration of electric and gas- powered appliances in kitchens and basements, and incorporation of a garage or carport for the new family automobile. With innova- tions occurring quickly and regularly, a cycle of purchase and replacement became evident in the postwar years as home- owners continuously upgraded their technological goods, from cars to televisions.172 Between 1955 and 1973 American scientists and workers developed more than half of the worldâs significant inventions of the era. These inventions formed new industries. In partic- ular, the communications industry defined the postwar era, characterized by the transmission, storage, and manipulation of information. Televisions and computers symbolized the ability to distribute and store information. Following World War II, the technology of transmitting pictures improved rapidly. Early production included 6,000 receivers in 1945, but within only 5 years this number increased dramatically; seven million televisions were produced in 1950, and high production rates continued until the late 1960s. In a single generation, 99 percent of American homes acquired a televi- sion, a technology that was well suited for the new postwar family room (also referred to as a recreation room).173 The impact of computers was also significant in the post- war era, particularly as it influenced industry and commerce, which in turn influenced suburban growth. International Business Machines (IBM) and other companies worked dur- ing the war on code-breaking machines, and the federal gov- ernment continued to provide the impetus for the computer industry in the postwar period. By 1966 the government had 2,500 computers in use (representing an increase from the governmentâs three machines, which had been used to com- pute the 1950 census returns) and more than 30,000 comput- ers were being used in all facets of industry and commerce. By the end of the postwar period, the transformation of technology, organization of work, and corporate consolida- tion resulted in a new economic order. Automated machines enhanced, and in some cases replaced, human labor.174 Around the country, new suburban growth and subdivi- sion development occurred as a result of corporate expansion, 169 The 12 largest SMSAs as of 1970 included: New York; Los Angeles-Long Beach; Chicago; Philadelphia; Detroit; San Francisco-Oakland; Boston; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Cleveland; and Baltimore. 170 Leo F. Schnore, Carolyn D. Andre, and Harry Sharp, âBlack Sub- urbanization, 1930-1970,â in The Changing Face of the Suburbs, ed. Barry Schwartz (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976), 69-94. 171 Schnore, Andre, and Sharp, 69-94. 172 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 49-53. 173 Gilbert, 164; James Andrew Jacobs, âSocial and Spatial Changes in the Postwar Family Room,â Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 13 (2006), 73. 174 Gilbert, 160-165.
63 increased production, and technological improvements. For example, the city of Arlington, Texas, witnessed unparalleled growth in the 1950s when GM located a Buick-Oldsmo- bile-Pontiac plant on the eastern edge of town. Employing 2,000 workers by 1953 and 3,000 workers by 1955, GM con- tributed greatly to the cityâs residential growth, and Arling- tonâs population increased 482 percent between 1950 and 1960.175 Similarly, Rochester, Minnesota, witnessed an imme- diate increase in home-building permits following IBMâs announcement of locating a manufacturing facility on the cityâs northwest edge in 1956. Between 1956 and 1957 build- ing permit applications nearly doubled from 261 to 501, and by 1958 the company employed 1,500 people, thus signifi- cantly affecting the local economy and real estate market.176 By the 1960s the pronounced cycle of the purchase and replacement of technological goods, such as appliances and automobiles, was extended to real estate and the âtrading upâ of homes. At this point, many consumers owned homes but found themselves with considerable discretionary income. This inevitably led to seeking a larger home with even more amenities and conveniences, such as better appliances in larger kitchens and larger utility rooms and separate rooms to accommodate televisions. As more and more Americans became homeowners, the house itself became an impor- tant symbol of economic status. As a sign of its ownerâs eco- nomic status, trading up to larger and more amenity-filled residences was an unsurprising result of economic prosperity and built-up wealth in the latter part of the postwar period.177 4. Conclusion The trends discussed within this section, including economic prosperity, rising discretionary incomes, shifting populations, increasing family sizes, racial desegregation, technological innovations, and growing consumerism, affected the climate of postwar residential home building. Additionally, these trends influenced the design of subdivisions and the postwar house, as it became necessary to accommodate larger and younger families and an increased number of consumer goods, from automobiles to electric and gas-powered appliances. The fol- lowing sections address the design and layout of the postwar landscape and house in more detail. E. Planning and Development Postwar residential development re-shaped American cit- ies and nearby environs. The increased demand for housing and improved transportation networks allowed for residen- tial development to extend beyond the central city to areas that had previously been raw land. This section discusses postwar development patterns and the individuals, builders, and manufacturers responsible for the unprecedented boom in residential construction that followed World War II. 1. Development Patterns The majority of postwar residential development occurred in new residential subdivisions on the periphery of established communities. One of the biggest factors that contributed to the postwar development boom was the ready availability of land. Thousands of developments sprang up with similar houses, setbacks, and curvilinear streets on former agricultural or dor- mant land (see Figure 74). These subdivisions ranged from small clusters of houses to entire suburban communities with thousands of homes and a commercial center, school, church, and parks. Land further away from the city was less expensive and easier for developers to shape. In addition, Americans wanted to live away from town; they did not mind commutes to work or shopping centers. As a result, new suburbs built up of multiple subdivisions came to characterize the era. One example of this trend of suburban expansion can be seen in Philadelphia, where 5,200 acres of rural land well outside of the city center was converted to urban use between 1945 and 1962, with more than 75 percent for residential use.178 In 1950 Popular Mechanics published a book titled Your Home and How to Build It Yourself that weighed the pros and 175 Komatsu Architecture, et. al, Final Arlington Historic Resources Sur- vey Update, Prepared for City of Arlington, Texas City Community Ser- vices Office, September 2007, 7-10. 176 âIBM â A Vibrant Force in Rochester,â RochesterMN.com, http:// www.rochestermn.com/ibma/vibrant/force/in/Rochester/story-21. html (accessed 30 March 2011). 177 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 98, 101; Hobbs and Stoops, 124. 178 Milgram, iii. Figure 74. This Westport, Wisconsin, c.1960 subdivision is similar to those constructed nationally in the postwar era, with modest residences set back along curvilinear streets (photograph courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Image ID: 66696).
64 cons of building a home in established neighborhoods and new residential developments. Within established prewar neighborhoods, it was suggested that new or âinfillâ con- struction could result in reduced resale value since the house may not conform to the existing homes in the neighborhood. However, the benefits of building in an existing neighborhood included established schools, churches, and playgrounds, as well as utilities and sidewalks that had already been installed and paid for. The book also stressed that although new devel- opments and neighborhoods typically offered larger lots at lower prices, needed sidewalks and utilities could result in additional fees and assessments on the property. Prospective home builders were advised to consider availability of and access to schools, churches, transportation, police and fire protection, and existing residences when deciding where to build a home.179 Postwar residential development was not limited to newly established subdivisions. Both individuals and builders con- structed homes on empty lots within established plats in communities. The infill development occurred on lots that were empty prior to and during the war, as well as secondary lots associated with a prewar house that were now offered for development. The result of infill construction that occurred during the postwar era was neighborhoods with a mix of architectural styles, sizes, ages, and setbacks. Cities throughout the country had subdivisions platted within city limits during the 1920s and 1930s that remained undeveloped at the end of World War II. In an effort to encour- age development in these areas, both the FHA and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) provided guidance for upgrading these established subdivisions.180 Developers were encouraged to purchase available land, vacate the previ- ous plat (when possible), and develop a modern layout based on the accepted standards of the period. Any existing homes constructed during the initial period of development were to be incorporated into the new plat, often with new plantings or landscape enhancements to improve their appearance.181 Although the majority of residential development in the postwar era occurred in platted subdivisions in suburban areas, some individuals and builders constructed homes on land in relatively undeveloped, rural areas (see Figure 75). In some cases, individuals purchased small tracts of land directly from farmers and worked with a builder to construct a non-farm residence. In other cases developers purchased land for residential development from farmers and estab- lished suburban-type subdivisions of varying sizes in tradi- tionally rural settings. The result was typically a small cluster of homes arranged in a linear configuration that lacked the amenities of larger, planned subdivisions, such as parks, cul-de-sacs, or community buildings. Transformation of farm land to suburban development was often influenced by increased ex-urban land values and taxes, which made it difficult to dedicate land to existing farms and expensive to expand farm operations. As a result, farmers were able to make more money by selling agricultural land than farming it.182 This put pressure on landowners and proved attractive to developers where available land was well situated in proximity to urban centers. With continued resi- dential development on the outskirts of communities, many of the postwar homes and subdivisions that were in once rural settings are now surrounded by additional development and no longer reflect their original âisolatedâ setting. For example, a collection of c.1965 homes on the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin, represents isolated postwar residen- tial development in a rural area (see Figure 76). This linear collection of six Ranch houses features similar sizes, massing, and setbacks. Lots are slightly wider than in a typical planned development and the area lacks sidewalk, curb and gutter, or decorative plantings. Based on real estate advertisements placed in the local newspaper, it appears the homes were constructed by developers who then sold them to individu- als, rather than by a farmer for family members. At the time of construction, little non-agricultural development had occurred in the area. However, with the continued growth of Madison and the surrounding communities, additional resi- 179 Allan Carpenter and Norman Guess, ed., How to Plan, Build, and Pay for Your Own Home (Chicago: Popular Mechanics Press, 1950), 11-13. 180 National Housing Agency, Housing Needs, A Preliminary Estimate (National Housing Bulletin 1) (Washington, D.C.: National Housing Agency, November 1944), 37. 181 National Housing Agency, Housing Needs, A Preliminary Estimate (National Housing Bulletin 1), 37; The National Association of Home Builders, Home Builders Manual for Land Development, Second Revised Edition (Washington, D.C.: The National Association of Home Builders, February 1958), 207. Figure 75. Postwar house in a rural southeast Georgia setting (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). 182 Milgram, 17.
65 dences were constructed from the 1970s through the present and a modern subdivision is encroaching on this collection. Postwar residences were also added to active farms during this period. These homes often replaced the original farm- house on the property, or were constructed as a secondary house for additional generations who lived and worked on the farm (see Figure 77). a. Influence of Ordinances, Codes, and Covenants During the postwar era, zoning laws and covenants were viewed by many, including the FHA, as enhancing the appeal of new residential developments. While zoning laws and ordi- nances are enforceable policies established by local govern- ments or authorities, covenants are contractual obligations that are tied to the property itself and recorded in the deed. In the 1938 publication Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, the FHA argued that it was âessential for every residential neigh- borhood to be protected against adverse influences which may occur through undesirable land uses.â The FHA stated that the best means of protection were zoning regulations and covenants, claiming âregulation of lot sizes, location of structures and their design, and prohibition of nuisances are good business of both buyer and seller.â183 During the postwar era, subdivision developers were often working within a system of established local zoning and subdivision regulations that required minimum design or engineering standards during the layout and develop- ment process. In established communities, zoning regula- tions could influence lot size, street layout and design, and the incorporation of parks and sidewalks. In areas outside communities, including rural areas, there was often a lack of local regulation regarding residential development. Because local regulations meant increased control and homogeneity, the FHA advised developers to work in areas with established zoning regulations.184 According to the Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the most com- mon zoning regulations included: local approval of the sub- division plat and grading plan; local approval of planned infrastructure within the development, including sidewalks, paved streets, sewers, and utility lines; and the utilization of standard subdivision design requirements, including the relation to the existing street system, street width and align- ment, alleys, easements, block dimensions, lot dimensions, and open spaces.185 In 1938 the FHA recommended that developers include the following eight protective covenants in new residential devel- opments, which were intended to create a uniform neighbor- hood appearance and homogenous character:186 â¢ Regulation of land use, â¢ Placement of buildings using side yard and setback regulations, â¢ Prohibition of subdivided lots, â¢ Prohibition of multiple dwellings per lot, â¢ Design control through approval of qualified committees, â¢ Prohibition of nuisances and temporary dwellings, â¢ Prohibition of occupancy of properties by inharmonious racial group, and â¢ Appropriate provisions for enforcement. These restrictions were to be recorded within the plat and last a minimum of 25 years. By 1940 the FHA added two additional suggested covenants: limitation of permitted improvement Figure 76. Raised Ranch house on outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin, constructed c.1965 as part of an isolated collection of postwar residences in a rural area (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 77. Postwar c.1960 Ranch house added to an early twentieth-century farmstead in rural Dawson County, Nebraska (Mead & Hunt photograph). 183 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 6. 184 Hanchett, 201. 185 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Insti- tute, 1948 [revised]), 28-29. 186 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 34.
66 costs and dwelling floor areas and reservations of public utility easements. According to the FHA, these covenants would result in neighborhoods with a âharmonious varietyâ of homes on wide lots with similar setbacks and maintained yards, which would be more appealing to potential homebuyers and safe- guard against decreasing property values.187 The ULI also provided recommendations for similar covenants. Its 1948 Community Buildersâ Handbook recom- mended the following provisions be considered: control of land use, including residential type and design; architectural control of structures, including walls and fences and house colors; prohibition or placement of utility buildings, such as sheds; and prohibition of nuisances, such as signs.188 In an effort to assure adequate front yards, they also suggested that minimum building setbacks be included in protective covenants. They went on to state that these setback require- ments would result in better relationships among property owners.189 As suggested by the FHA, some developers chose to include restrictive covenants based on race and religion. Restrictive covenants excluding home ownership to African Americans, Mexicans, Asians, and Jews were frequently used in residential subdivisions as early as the 1920s and continued during the early postwar period.190 As previously discussed, as a result of the 1948 Supreme Court ruling outlawing the enforcement of restrictive covenants, the FHA announced that as of Feb- ruary 15, 1950, it would no longer insure mortgages on real estate in protected neighborhoods (see Section C.1). How- ever, FHA officials continued to accept unwritten agreements based on race or religion until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1968.191 2. Subdivision Development A number of parties were involved in the process of sub- division development, from the builders and developers who established the site to the agencies who influenced legisla- tion. Advertising was an important means of achieving the goals of each party, allowing them to promote themselves, their developments, and the concept of home ownership and the American dream. a. Developers and Builders The subdivider of a parcel of land does very much more than sell real estate by a bargain concerning the buyer and the seller alone. The results of his activities are in truth indelibly impressed upon the physical pattern of the community at large . . . â Harold W. Lautner of the Public Administration Service192 Although some homeowners took it upon themselves to construct a new residence, builders and developers were responsible for the majority of suburban development. The role of developers and builders changed in the postwar era due to the substantial demand for housing and the resulting large-scale development that occurred. In previous decades, the roles were clearly defined. Developers, also known as sub- dividers, were responsible for the development of the land and the infrastructure. They typically purchased large areas of land, platted lots, constructed streets, and installed sewer systems. They then sold the lots to builders who constructed homes for sale, or individuals who contracted with a builder to construct their own home. However, this pattern changed after World War II, when government financing programs made residential development more lucrative and developers realized they could increase profits by constructing the homes themselves.193 The postwar building boom greatly impacted the building profession. According to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1938, in the largest cities, the typical builder constructed no more than four single-family residences each year and only a few builders had the capacity to construct as many as 10 houses a year. This small amount of construc- tion was partially the result of low housing demand during the Depression, as many families were not able to afford the required down payments and mortgage costs associated with a new home. When an individual did decide to construct a new house, the owner typically retained a builder to construct a house under contract. As a result, little speculative residential construction was completed during this period.194 However, this began to change with the creation of the FHA in 1934 and programs that made securing a mortgage easier. These programs (discussed in Section C.1), combined with the increased demand for homes, resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of home builders. Some builders who took advantage of these programs were operating prior to the war and others had been involved in defense construction, 187 United States Federal Housing Administration, Successful Subdivi- sions, 9, 28. 188 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 90. 189 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 59. 190 Wright, 212. 191 Antero Pietila, Not in My Neighborhood, How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010), 107; Wright, 248. 192 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Com- munity Builders Handbook (Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1954), 38. 193 Wright, 248; Ames and McClelland, 26. 194 Marc A. Weiss, The Rise of the Community Builders (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 38.
67 which positioned them to take advantage of opportunities during the postwar residential construction boom. Although the average home builder continued the prewar trend of constructing only a few homes each year, a small num- ber of builders were responsible for a large percentage of the homes constructed annually. Between 1938 and 1955 the num- ber of builders responsible for five or more houses rose from 14 percent to 27 percent.195 In 1949, 4 percent of all builders and developers were responsible for 45 percent of new residen- tial construction.196 By 1959 it was estimated that 1 percent of builders were responsible for one-third of the new houses built, and the top 10 percent of builders were responsible for two- thirds of the houses built.197 These builders became known as âmerchant buildersâ; they are discussed in more detail below. Those builders responsible for a large number of homes often employed mass production techniques to the construc- tion process. Similar to workers on a manufacturing assem- bly line, carpenters, plumbers, painters, and other tradesmen completed the same task continuously, moving from one house to another. To make the supply process more efficient, some builders maintained large material inventories, prefabricated their own components off site prior to delivery, and utilized precut lumber. This eliminated downtime as workers waited for supplies to be delivered, cut, or assembled.198 See Section F for more information on standardization of materials. In an effort to develop and perfect the mass production of houses and reduce construction costs, many builders lim- ited the number of models and exterior variations available to prospective buyers, simplified the design, and eliminated extra features, including basements. In addition, they aligned interior load-bearing walls, standardized window and door sizes, and grouped plumbing together.199 Along with the standardization of materials, this resulted in large numbers of similar residences constructed in the postwar era. Smaller Developers and Builders. Although a small num- ber of developers and builders were responsible for the large subdivisions, smaller scale developers and builders constructed a large number of homes across the country. They were respon- sible for individual infill or isolated residences, as well as sub- divisions ranging from a half-dozen to several dozen homes. This large number of small-scale local builders was influenced by local housing needs, availability of land for development, and available materials. As a result, there is not a single process or pattern that defines development at this level. However, the speculative building process was common across the country. Developers and builders constructed homes for unknown but anticipated clients. Known as âspec homes,â these homes were often based on popular prototypes in the area. Based on the abilities of the developer or builder, spec homes could be limited to single infill residences in already developed plats, or small clusters of homes or subdivisions. Because it was often difficult to obtain financing for the purchase of land, smaller developers and builders had a dif- ficult time securing the necessary funds to purchase enough property for a large subdivision. Additionally, financing was also required to cover the actual construction costs. As a result, most large subdivisions were developed by a small number of builders with financing capacity. Small-scale developers and builders often found it easier to work under contract with an individual or family who were responsible for obtaining the financing for the effort, or construct a limited number of homes annually that required minimal financial outlays.200 Phased development was also common for small-scale builders and developers, with subsequent adjacent additions underway as financing and buyer demand allowed. When the small-scale builders and developers were working near each other or phasing their developments, the end result was similar to that of a large-scale developer or builderâlarge numbers of similar postwar homes with little or no break between the plats. Merchant Builders. The small number of builders who were able to respond to the postwar housing need and con- struct large numbers of homes quickly became known as merchant builders. The term âmerchant builderâ referred to builders who completed the entire development and con- struction process. Merchant builders acquired large tracts of land, designed and installed streets and infrastructure, designed and built houses, and sold the finished houses as part of a new community. These builders dominated the post- war housing industry by building large numbers of homes at a fast rate âand achieving economies of scale not previously seen in housing construction.â201 According to economist and real estate researcher Sherman Maisel, âThese are the new giants in an industry populated by pygmies. Here, at the very peak of their house building pyramid, are the leaders of con- struction who are not content merely to build houses. They construct communities.â202 Although the term âoperative builderâ is sometimes used interchangeably with â merchant builder,â by definition operative builders controlled the entire 195 Burnham Kelly, Design and the Production of Houses (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1959), 9. 196 Weiss, 161. 197 Kelly, 9. 198 Checkoway, 24-25. 199 Eichler, 68. 200 Milgram, 19-22. 201 Andrew Hope, âEvaluating the Significance of San Larenzo Village, a Mid-20th Century Suburban Community.â CRM Journal Summer 2005, 52. 202 Checkoway, 29.
68 operation from land acquisition through construction but phased their home building as money became available.203 Their developments were often smaller than those of mer- chant builders due to the phased construction and lack of community facilities. Merchant buildersâ developments far exceeded the scale of pre-war subdivisions, and in some cases, they were larger than entire communities. In addition to constructing houses, some builders planned for entire communities with ameni- ties that would draw families to the developments, includ- ing schools, churches, libraries, and parks.204 These builders were sometimes referred to as âCommunity Builders.â Most major cities and urban areas had at least one active merchant builder during the postwar period. Some of the most noted were William Levitt of New York; Dave Bohannon and Joseph Eichler in California (see Figure 78); Edward Ryan in western Pennsylvania; John Mowbray in the Baltimore area; Waverly Taylor in the Washington, D.C. area; Irvin Bleitz in the Chi- cago area; and Del Web in the Phoenix area.205 Levitt and Sons is perhaps one of the best known merchant builders of the era. William Levitt, president of Levitt and Sons, was considered one of the nationâs largest developers in 1950. That year, the company produced one 4-room house every 16 minutes.206 Prior to the war, the company con- structed homes for affluent families on Long Island. After the war, Levitt purchased 1,400 acres of Long Island farmland and began developing âLevittown,â which when complete had 17,000 homes. A subsequent Levittown was developed in lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Phila- delphia, which had experienced postwar housing shortages.207 See Section F.2 for more information on Levitt. Many merchant builders faced a decline in the 1960s. Levitt and Sons faced increased competition and had difficulty find- ing large tracts of land at competitive rates or areas with a demand for a large numbers of houses. In the case of Eichler Homes, the company had a limited market due to the type of modern home they constructed, and the cost of materi- als increased significantly. The company fell into bankruptcy when its diversification efforts failed. Some merchant build- ers, however, were successful in the 1960s and 1970s and went public or merged with other companies.208 Kaufman & Broad, Inc., of Los Angeles, was one of the largest publicly held building companies in the 1960s and had 42 widely dis- tributed major housing developments underway in 1969.209 b. National Association of Home Builders Established in 1942, the NAHB originated out of the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB). At the time of organization, the NAHB was concerned with provid- ing defense housing during the war effort. As the demand for housing grew in the postwar era, the association focused on promoting the housing industry through large builders and new subdivisions. The NAHB had a powerful lobbying group and supported the FHA and VA programs that like- wise promoted residential construction.210 The NAHB was responsible for the development of large-scale marketing efforts. Together with local Home Buildersâ Associations, it established National Home Week in 1948 and the âParade of Homesâ event in the 1950s as a feature of National Home Week. See Section E.3 for more information on National Home Week and the Parade of Homes. The NAHB also worked to improve the house building industry, holding conferences and exhibits to promote new products in the industry and conducting surveys of members to identify trends and inform areas of improvement. In 1964 the NAHB established a research center to test new building methods and materials. That same year it instituted a âRegis- tered Builderâ program to counter the negative image of home builders that had developed by this time, when the overall population was scrutinizing industry in general, including the housing industry.211 This image of builders was highlighted in the November 1964 edition of House & Home magazine, which stated âitâs time for homebuilders to face an unfortunate fact: despite enormous improvement in the design and quality 203 Ames and McClelland, 26. 204 Andrew Hope, 54-55. 205 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 68; Checkoway, 29. 206 Wright, 252. 207 Checkoway, 26, 29. Figure 78. Eichler-built house in Orange County, California, c.1958 (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). 208 Eichler, 116-117. 209 Mason, 101. 210 Checkoway, 34-35. 211 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 67-68; âHistory Timeline,â NAHB The Voice of the Housing Industry, http://www.nahb.org/NAHB_History/historytimeline.html (accessed 11 March 2011).
69 of housing, too many people still see builders as irresponsible exploiters of the consumerâs need for shelter.â212 c. Real Estate Companies Local and regional real estate companies were actively involved in the postwar housing boom, working directly with individuals interested in purchasing a home and builders who were constructing homes speculatively. Some real estate com- panies served as brokers in the early stages of development, aiding in the sale of undeveloped land to investors, developers, or builders. Upon construction completion, real estate compa- nies often worked with builders to sell finished homes at a flat fee or commission rate. If real estate companies were involved in the initial land sale and the sale of the completed house, they stood to earn two commissions. Real estate brokers could also help prospective home buyers secure mortgages, further increasing their role and profit in the development process. However, merchant builders and other builders who were responsible for the development of entire subdivisions often acted as their own real estate firms. They had experienced sales representatives on staff and relied on advertising and model homes to attract attention and win home sales.213 Much like the NAHB, the NAREB was concerned with how federal legislation impacted the real estate industry. During the 1930s, the NAREB was influential in lobbying for housing acts and during the following decades they maintained a stand- ing committee on federal legislation. Together, the NAHB and NAREB exerted a considerable amount of political pressure on Congress, focusing on facilitating the construction of new single-family suburban homes. Programs implemented by FHA and VA assisted their efforts and reduced risk.214 3. Advertising Trends Advertising through various media, including television, radio, and print, was critical to increasing residential sales across the country (see Figure 79). The popular press, particu- larly domestic-related magazines, devoted considerable atten- tion to the program of affordable residential design during the 1940s and 1950s. Magazines such as Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Sunset, and Better Homes & Gardens featured work from prominent architects and builders. For instance, Ranch houses designed by California architect Cliff May were featured prominently in print and were also often built for public viewing as model houses, completely furnished and landscaped (see Section G for more information on Cliff May).215 Popular Mechanics also issued build-it-yourself guides for Ranch homes, including both exterior and corre- sponding interior components, as well as tips for prospective home builders. With details on cabinetry and even furniture, Popular Mechanics provided the general public with step-by- step instructions for modern homebuilding and landscaping. By promoting home designs with lavishly illustrated arti- cles showing Contemporary interior designs in use by fami- lies, these magazine articles stimulated the readerâs desire for a modern home with up-to-date appliances and furniture. By using well-staged photographs, these publications helped the reader, usually a woman, imagine her family living in a simi- lar type of home. As such, the popular press contributed to postwar residential development and construction by fram- ing the âwantsâ and âneedsâ of the postwar family. The use of model homes to promote new subdivisions was a marketing technique with roots in the Great Depression. However, its function as a sales tool shifted during the postwar years as the model home became the home builderâs store- front, with well-executed interior design and decorating prov- ing critical to the modelâs success. In some cases, construction of the model home started before the overall plat map was recorded. Fully furnished models were an essential market- ing tool by the early 1950s, and the homebuilding industry acknowledged that âgood decorating hides shortcomings, makes small rooms look bigger, and any room look better.â216 It was common for builders to work with local appliance and 212 Quote referenced in Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 68. 213 Weiss, 39-40. 214 The NAREB eventually became the National Association of Realtors. Checkoway, 34-35; Wright, 2. Figure 79. Advertisement for the Brookdale Subdivision in Mason, Michigan (Ingham County News 1 January 1959). 215 David Bricker, âRanch Houses Are Not All the Same,â Preserving the Recent Past 2, 2-119. 216 Quote referenced in Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 83.
70 department stores to stage a model home to make it more appealing to prospective homebuyers. A furnished model house encouraged prospective home buyers to envision them- selves living in the home, complete with novel appliances and sleek modern furniture, all the while encouraging domestic consumption.217 In addition to the model home, builders often had sales displays at the construction site for those inter- ested families who were watching the construction process.218 Furthering buildersâ efforts to use model homes as a selling tool was the evolution of National Home Week, a festival spon- sored by the NAHB and its affiliated local Home Buildersâ Asso- ciations. Occurring across the country, this annual event was not only an advertising opportunity but a means for home builders to educate consumers on new technologies in construction and the âlatest and best in living convenience and comfort.â219 The week-long event included local media campaigns, advertising opportunities for local builders, informative programs, con- tests, ceremonies, and opportunities for public participation. By the late 1950s, more than 150 communities throughout the country celebrated National Home Week during the month of September. Many used special newspaper sections and photo- graphs to promote the event, while others sought additional promotion by commissioning television spots and establishing partnerships with appliance and utility companies. See Fig- ure 80 for an example of a newspaper promotion.220 Based on the success of the program, the NAHB developed the âParade of Homesâ event as a concurrent or consecutive feature of National Home Week in the 1950s. Local orga- nizers selected a site or a street in an existing development, and local builders, upon paying an entry fee, received a lot on which to construct a house that showcased their ability and style. Visitors then paid admission to see the collection of homes. Parade events proved to be valuable promotional opportunities for small builders, many of whom did not have the budgets to construct large subdivisions or wage adver- tising campaigns. A successful parade house allowed them to attract and secure clients. The Parade of Homes events became extremely popular, and in some areas, they replaced the National Home Week events.221 Parade of Homes events were held throughout the country, including Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; South Bend, Indiana; Denver, Colorado; Knoxville, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; Columbus, Ohio (see Figure 81); and the Washington, D.C., metro area. The 1954 Utah Parade of Homes, sponsored by the Utah Home Builders Association, even included a house giveaway. The three-bedroom home, valued at $18,000, was the combined effort of members of the local Utah Builders Association. The one-story brick, Contemporary style house featured three bedrooms, a combined living room and kitchen space, two-car carport, adequate storage, sheltered patio, and sweeping views of the Great Salt Valley.222 Newspaper advertising was vital to the success of both model and non-model home showings and local promo- tional events, such as the Parade of Homes. As the primary means of advertising houses and developments, newspapers across the country witnessed a print layout change in their home and classified sections. Advertisements grew larger to accommodate information on both individual homes and subdivision characteristics and features.223 The following full-page advertisement for the Snyder Subdivision in the 217 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 81-86. 218 Eichler, 64. 219 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 87. 220 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 88. 221 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 87-91. Figure 80. Promotional photograph of the collection of homes included in the 1955 Madison, Wisconsin, Parade of Homes as featured in the Wisconsin State Journal (photograph courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Image ID: 4717). 222 Utah Home Builders Association, âAmericaâs Most Beautiful Parade of Homes, Souvenir Bookletâ ([Salt Lake City, Utah]: Utah Home Build- ers Association), 1954, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rightintwomcm/ 4018279708/in/set-72157622476127301/ (accessed 25 March 2011). 223 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 79-81.
71 Lansing suburb of Mason, Michigan, is an example of this marketing method: an area planned for a lifetime of pleasant living . . . Katheryn street, located in the heart of the subdivision will have concrete curb and gutter, sidewalk and blacktopped surfacing. The area will be completely graded and a sturdy shade tree will be planted on every lot . . . Masonâs newest development is conveniently located on the west side near shopping areas. Itâs only 10 miles from Lansing. Commuting to the capital city takes only minutes on the new divided highway near the subdivision.224 This typical advertisement, while touting the advantages and ease of suburban living, also included an open house notice for a three-bedroom Ranch house, complete with automatic appliances and picture windows (see Figure 82). In addition to local efforts to promote and advertise hous- ing and development in newspapers and on the ground, the national popular press proved essential to the countryâs movement to postwar suburbia. An example of the nuanced ability of architects and builders to promote a discrete set of house plans to millions of Americans seeking individualized homes is the âHome for All America,â a lengthy advertise- ment published in Better Homes & Gardens in 1954. Designed by architect Robert A. Little & Associates of Cleveland, Ohio, the Ranch house plan set was promoted as âA house to please and serve many people in many parts of the country. A house for a New England town, a bustling Midwestern suburb, a Gulf Coast retreat, a Panhandle ranch, an established neigh- borhood in a city of any size.â With 1,400 ft2, three bedrooms, living-dining space, a semi-open kitchen, separate activity space, two bathrooms, outdoor living space, a workshop, and storage, the plans for the Home for All America also included an optional basement to add utility space and a recreation room. Responding to improved house planning and zoning and taking advantage of modern construction and materi- als, the Home for All America was a modular system with many variations, including roof shape and the placement of the carport or garage. The 16-page advertisement featured numerous images and photographs, none more evocative of the eraâs advertising trends than the photographs of the housewife working in the kitchen, setting the dining table with a view towards the living room, and ironing clothes while watching her children through the large picture win- dow. Advertising photographs such as this perpetuated the popular theme of domesticity and reinforced gender roles, with women in a kitchen or utility room complete with mod- ern conveniences and appliances that surely eased homemak- ing responsibilities.225 Advertisements for low-cost prefabricated home designs also intensified during the early 1950s. These standard- ized houses, an answer to the acute postwar housing need, were promoted through advertisements taken out by the fabricators. For instance, U.S. Steel Homes, which acquired Gunnison Homes in 1944, published numerous one-page advertisements in womenâs magazines during the postwar period. Their âBrideâs House of 1955â epitomizes advertising Figure 81. Split-level home in Worthington Hills, Ohio, the location of the 1966 Parade of Homes event for the Columbus-Central Ohio area (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 82. Advertisement for Snyder Subdivision in Mason, Michigan (Ingham County News 19 January 1956). 224 Advertisement, âSnyder Subdivision,â Ingham County News, 19 January 1956. 225 John Normile and Jim Riggs, âThe Home For All America,â Better Homes & Gardens, September 1954, 57-73.
72 trends geared towards the housewife, while also taking into account the various stages of family life. The advertisement, which also noted that the house was featured in House Beau- tifulâs âGuide for the BrideâSummer Issue,â reads: If youâre about to be married, youâll like it because itâs priced low . . . If you are married and now raising children, youâll like this home because it gives your whole family space to eat, play, and sleep in comfort . . . If youâre a grandparent now and all your own children have grown up and left, youâll like this home for its step-saving convenience and for the very little care it requires inside and out.226 Other manufacturers of prefabricated homes, including Lustron and National Homes, established similar advertising techniques. In addition to advertisements published in the popular press, home builders created informational pamphlets to pro- mote their developing subdivisions. Levitt and Sons, Inc., probably the best known home builder in the postwar period, issued numerous promotional pamphlets. Their âBelair at Bowie Marylandâ pamphlet from 1961 is a typical example of this type of advertisement. The pamphlet introduced the subdivision as a whole, with particular consideration given to the five different housing types being shown (the Country Clubber, three- and four-bedroom Colonials, the Rancher, and Cape Cod); the lot size; and location of churches, com- munity facilities, shopping centers, schools, and recreational clubs (see Figure 83 for examples of these houses). Well illus- trated with photographs of each type of house and couples interacting with the house, the pamphlet emphasized the zoned spaces for domestic activities and leisure; modern appliances, such as the electric range, automatic oven, dish- washer, and garbage disposal; and Levittâs experience with building neighborhoods.227 The Strauss Brothers Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, pub- licized its Eastridge subdivision with a series of informational pamphlets on the companyâs âTrendhomeâ designs. Their ini- tial publication promotes the concept of home ownership, the benefits of the Eastridge neighborhood, the three available floorplans, and a comprehensive listing of the features that set these homes apart, as well as versatile arrangements and extra features, such as screen fences, planters, landscaping, patios, and outdoor fireplaces. The pamphlet also stressed the qual- ity that went into design and construction.228 A subsequent publication from c.1956 includes much of the same informa- tion on the features, as well as newly introduced floorplans and photographs of the newly established neighborhood that highlight the community pool, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and nearby schools, churches, and shopping centers (see Fig- ure 84).229 Strauss Brothers also used newspaper advertise- ments and model homes to promote its Eastridge subdivision. An alternative type of advertisement used during the post- war period was the home book publication, which compiled plans and illustrations of homes designed by prominent architects as inspiration for the aspiring homeowner. The Pacific Northwest Book of Homes for 1947 is but one example of this advertisement method. Containing 65 plans, includ- ing 50 small home plans, this lavishly illustrated home book identifies plans well suited for life in the Pacific Northwest, with particular attention given to climate, topography, and materials. These varied plans by regional architects include both luxury and small homes, houses for corner lots and inte- rior lots, the integration of indoor and outdoor living space, and the provision of modern electric and gas-powered conve- niences. One plan even establishes itself in three construction phases to grow and expand with the family and its income.230 4. Subdivision Location, Design, and Features Suburban communities nationwide were influenced by guidelines set forth by the FHA, ULI, and NAHB during the postwar era. The guidelines were typically more restrictive than local zoning ordinances and commonly used in the 1940s through 1960s, with modifications for local requirements. 226 Advertisement, âThe Brideâs House of 1955,â Ladies Home Journal, 1955. Figure 83. Levitt-constructed Rancher and Cape Cod models in Belair, Prince Georgeâs County, Maryland (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration). 227 Levitt & Sons, Incorporated, âBelair at Bowie Marylandâ ([Bowie, Md.]: Levitt & Sons, 1961). 228 Strauss Brothers, Thereâs a New Trend in Lincoln ([Lincoln, Neb.]: Strauss Brothers, ), n.p. 229 Strauss Brothers, Eastridge, A Great Place to Live ([Lincoln, Neb.]: Strauss Brothers, ), n.p. 230 Francis W. Brown, ed. Pacific Northwest Book of Homes for 1947, (San Francisco, Calif.: Home Book Publishers, 1947).
73 Together these guidelines and ordinances, which were compa- rable nationwide, resulted in similar subdivision appearances.231 With the exception of regional topography, vegetation, and building materials, the curvilinear streets, lot sizes, setbacks, and circulation patterns, and building forms did not differ much regardless of location. a. Location, Plat, and Layout In 1938, prior to the postwar building boom, the FHA pub- lished Planning Profitable Neighborhoods. This book provided suggestions for layout and design that contrasted greatly from the âtypical tract configuration,â commonly used in the 1920s and 1930s. In the tract configuration, houses were sited toward the center and front third of a rectangular lot on a rectangular block, with an average lot size of 50 to 55 ft wide by 100 to 120 ft deep. The house placement divided the lot into the front and back yard and created a uniform set- back along the street.232 This traditional development pattern changed with the introduction of FHA guidelines that pro- vided developers with advice on planning new subdivisions, which were directed toward achieving more marketable and interesting communities and better managed mortgage risks. The FHA encouraged developers to work with the existing topography, avoid dead-end streets, utilize long blocks with ade- quate crosswalks, and create lots that made the best use of the space and fit the topography. These early designs moved away from the traditional grid street patterns and included curvi- linear streets and cul-de-sacs. Suggestions included avoiding deep lots and sharp angles, allowing adequate width, and plan- ning lots to face desirable areas, such as parks or natural spaces. By following these guidelines, developers could maximize the number of lots within their subdivision, thereby increasing their profits.233 Although many developers utilized these new configurations, others elected to utilize the traditional grid pattern throughout the postwar era. The 1940 FHA publication Successful Subdivisions built on the 1938 guidance for planning subdivisions and included many of the same guiding principles. Among the sugges- tions were selecting a convenient location near transportation Figure 84. Page from 1957 Eastridge promotional booklet highlighting the benefits of the neighborhood, including sidewalks (Strauss Brothers, Eastridge, A Great Place to Live). 231 Girling and Helphand, 82. 232 Rowe, 92. Although this was the average lot size, dimensions varied due to topography, regional and developer preferences, and availability of land for development. 233 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 4-6, 14-17.
74 corridors and schools; creating ample lots that preserve natural landscape features; providing adequate streets and sidewalks; limiting through traffic; and including shopping centers and parks. To illustrate its guidance, the FHA provided before and after drawings of subdivision layouts that highlighted such issues as laying out economical street systems, conforming to the natural topography, and incorporating natural features and park land.234 Much of this early FHA guidance was adopted by ULI and promoted in its Community Builders Handbook publica- tions during the postwar era. A series of published handbooks included information on site development and selection and land use for both single- and multiple-family residential devel- opments. According to the ULI, site design was equal to or greater than building design in importance. To realize the full potential of the site, developers were urged to consider the orga- nization of open spaces, building and structure arrangement, circulation patterns, light, air, noise, prevailing winds, vistas, privacy, ease of operating and maintenance, and lot and block size when developing a site plan.235 ULI also urged developers to consider the following when developing lot lines within a sub- division: usable yard space in the front and rear, adequate drain- age away from the house, minimum grading, and the ability to retain existing trees and vegetation.236 Although developers were encouraged to maintain natural landscape features, much of the landscape was removed or altered through fill and grad- ing to best utilize overall space and maximize the amount of buildable lots. Names like âforest,â âmeadow,â and âhills,â which described the original landscape but not necessarily its devel- oped state, were often incorporated into the plat name.237 The ULI also identified several factors to be considered when identifying a suitable location for subdivision and residential development sites. It suggested that the location be within walking distance to a transit system or places of employment, or 30 minutes by car to places of employment. It also sug- gested that fire and police protection, snow clearing, and trash collection play a role in the selection of sites by developers.238 Airports, railroad tracks, cemeteries, low-income industrial and commercial areas, poorly subdivided residential areas, and areas prone to flooding were to be avoided.239 The NAHB provided recommendations to developers and builders in its publication Home Builders Manual for Land Development. Similar to FHA and ULI, the guidance related to efficient residential development, including layout of lots, streets, driveways, and utilities; incorporation of existing landscape features; and siting of schools, churches, parks, and parking lots. The NAHB also advised builders to research and understand the need for housing units and the size and styles of houses that would sell in particular areas.240 In addition to layout and proximity to amenities, it was viewed as important to offer a range of price points and dwell- ing types within a single subdivision. This stabilized values and provided greater options for families at different stages, with different needs regarding house size. John Mowbray, a Balti- more area builder involved in the ULIâs Community Buildersâ Council, warned against having houses in a single price range within a subdivision and suggested the use of architectural design features to transition between price ranges within the plat. However, houses facing each other should reflect the same general price, class, and quality. Although a variety of floorplans and forms were recommended, the ULI advised against placing rental housing within the same areas as single- family, owner-occupied homes.241 b. Inclusion of Amenities In addition to providing guidance regarding subdivision design, the ULI recommended that subdivision developers evaluate the needs of potential residents to determine which amenities would be utilized and worth including in the ini- tial planning stages. To develop a complete neighborhood, the ULI recommended that developers and builders reserve central locations for parks, schools, churches, and shopping centers.242 Landscaped neighborhood parks and natural preserves were among the most common amenities within planned develop- ments. The FHA subdivision guidance allowed for retaining natural areas and including parks and open spaces. In 1948 the ULI offered guidance for community parks and playgrounds. As a rule, playgrounds were to be centrally located so that chil- dren would not need to walk more than one-half-mile, and sizes were based on the subdivision population, ranging from 3.25 acres for a population of 2,000 to 6 acres for a popula- tion of 5,000. For a complete recreational area, developers were advised to include the following: an area for pre schoolers, play equipment for older children, open space, surfaced athletic courts, ball fields, an area for small games, shelter with toilet facilities, wading pool, and an area for board games.243 234 United States Federal Housing Administration, Successful Subdivi- sions, 12-27. 235 Urban Land Institute, The Homes Association Handbook, Technical Bulletin 50 (Washington, D.C.: Urban Land Institute, 1966), 144. 236 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 55-56. 237 Girling and Helphand, 83. 238 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 5-7, 25-26. 239 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 17. 240 The National Association of Home Builders, Home Builders Man- ual for Land Development, Revised Edition (Washington, D.C.: The National Association of Home Builders, January 1953), 10-11. 241 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 43. 242 Urban Land Institute, 167. 243 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 76.
75 When including parks and natural areas, developers were also advised to consider the overall maintenance costs associ- ated with these spaces. For example, the irrigation costs to maintain grassy lawns were to be considered in arid climates. In addition, the extent and ease of seasonal maintenance required was a consideration.244 The amount of public open space in residential develop- ments was also influenced by local ordinances and existing master plans. In some cases the amount of open space was determined based on straight percentages or housing density. Isolated or rural developments outside established commu- nities often did not have requirements for including ameni- ties within a plat. Some developers elected to include private recreation centers as a way to enhance a neighborhood and offer sav- ings to the homeowner since they then would not need to pay for recreational amenities within the home or yard.245 For example, community recreation centers and swimming pools offered residents an area to host parties and recreate for a nominal fee. In the case of the Eastridge subdivision in Lin- coln, Nebraska, the developers included a private swimming pool for homeowners.246 However, it does not appear that this was a common practice during the postwar period. In an attempt to attract young families with children, it was common for developers and builders to set aside parcels of land in larger developments and subdivisions for the cre- ation of schools. To create a feasible site, they were urged to consult with the local school board and consider pedestrian access from all points within the subdivision, as well as its proximity to transportation corridors in areas where bussing would occur. In 1948 the ULI provided minimum size recom- mendations for schools: five acres for elementary schools and 10 acres for high schools.247 By 1954 recommendations for school sites had increased, with five acres allocated for each 500 students and an additional acre for each additional 100 students, and up to 35 acres for high schools.248 Although churches were a popular addition to the subdi- vision, builders and developers were advised against placing them in residential areas due to the volume of associated automobile traffic and parking concerns among residents. In 1954 the Community Buildersâ Council of the ULI rec- ommended allocating a minimum of 3 to 5 acres for church development.249 As a result, suburban churches are often located on the periphery of a development along a transpor- tation thoroughfare. The church located within the Dillonâs Fairacres addition in Omaha, Nebraska, is one such example. When Robert W. Dillon platted the addition between 1953 and 1955, he left a large parcel on the north end, fronting a major street, for construction of a church (see Figure 85). The FHA and ULI guidelines identified shopping centers as a community asset. In Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, the FHA advised that such commercial areas be located within convenient and safe walking distances and offer ade- quate off-street parking and delivery access. It also advised that commercial areas be located along major thoroughfares rather than along secondary residential streets.250 However, shopping centers in higher income neighborhoods were less critical since residents with automobiles were willing to travel outside their neighborhood to shop.251 5. Utilities and Infrastructure Adequate infrastructure was a selling point for new home- buyers and a contributing factor in the overall success of a sub- division. Not only did the utilities need the capacity to handle the potential subdivision, but they had to accommodate future development within the subdivision and the expected develop- ment along the periphery as a result of the new neighborhood.252 Streets and sidewalks were the most visible of the subdivi- sion infrastructure elements and important considerations for 244 American Society of Planning Officials, âPublic Open Space in Sub- divisions,â Information Report No. 46 (Chicago: American Society of Planning Officials, January 1953), n.p.; Urban Land Institute, 160. 245 Urban Land Institute, 143. 246 Strauss Brothers, Eastridge, A Great Place to Live, n.p. The Eastridge swimming pool is now open to the public. 247 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 73. 248 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1954), 89. Figure 85. Luther Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church constructed 1955-1956 in the Dillonâs Fairacres Addition in Omaha, Nebraska (Mead & Hunt photograph). 249 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 73; Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Hand- book (1954), 89. 250 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 12. 251 Girling and Helphand, 88. 252 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 15-16.
76 builders during the development process. The FHA, ULI, and other groups provided guidance for how to incorporate these vehicular and pedestrian networks into the overall design. Along with site condition, available water, sewer, electricity, natural gas, and public transportation were factors that devel- opers had to consider during the site selection process. The FHA also urged developers to utilize public water supplies and sewers whenever possible, rather than including individual wells and septic systems within the subdivision design.253 a. Streets To accommodate the automobile within the subdivision and make sure it did not dominate the public spaces, the ULI recommended that developers limit vehicle access points, provide narrow secondary streets, and utilize traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps on minor streets.254 This built on previous guidance from the FHA, which was included in the 1938 publication Planning Profitable Neighborhoods and Planning Neighborhoods for Small Houses and the 1940 publi- cation Successful Subdivisions. Although the FHA did not pro- vide specific guidance for street widths, it provided optimal cross-sections for 30- and 50-ft right-of-way widths, including paved surfaces, parking areas, terraces, and sidewalks.255 The FHA also suggested that developers plan subdivisions with street patterns that follow the natural contours of the land, discourage heavy through traffic, allow for the extension of major streets into adjacent areas, intersect major thorough- fares at right angles, and avoid dead-end streets.256 Within subdivisions, both the ULI and FHA urged devel- opers to consider preparing street plans during the develop- ment process. Major streets were to conform to the master street plan for the adjacent or surrounding community but avoid the traditional gridiron street patterns. In some cases, this required that primary streets within a subdivision meet the width of outside streets. Although street planning was to discourage through traffic, planners were also urged to con- sider emergency vehicle access in the design process.257 In 1948 the ULI recommended that minor residential streets not exceed 26 ft from face-of-curb to face-of-curb, allowing for two lanes of on-street parking and one lane of moving traf- fic. This width also provided adequate turning radii at inter- sections and driveways. The ULI recommended that major streets be 33 to 34 ft from face-of-curb to face-of-curb. These wider streets were discouraged throughout the subdivision as they were seen as inviting higher speeds and increasing initial paving and future maintenance costs. However, local standards for street width often dictated the developersâ plans.258 Although the FHA promoted the use of cul-de-sacs in resi- dential developments, the ULI offered guidance for limited use. They were not recommended for streets longer than 500 ft and turning radii guidance was provided. In addition, devel- opers were warned from including too many cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets as they increased sewer and drainage prob- lems and complicated refuse pick-up and emergency vehicle access. Loop streets, which featured the curvilinear design of the cul-de-sac but connected with adjacent streets on either end, were seen as advantageous because they allow for privacy and discourage through traffic while avoiding potential drain- age issues and the difficulty of turning vehicles around.259 b. Sidewalks Sidewalks, like babies and cars, are here to stay. In mass-produced subdivisions â the dominant form of city building â they are an adjunct of a mode of life. The trends that make sidewalks desirable or necessary now show no signs of declining in the future . . . 260 Sidewalks were seen as an important amenity in residen- tial subdivisions as they were viewed as a popular place for children to play and allowed families safe pedestrian travel between homes, schools, churches, and recreational areas. The need for sidewalks in residential subdivisions and devel- opments was based on several variables, which are described below, as well as city and local ordinances. In the majority of new residential developments, the developer was responsible for the construction of sidewalks; however, this was often passed on to homeowners through lot and construction costs. In 1948 the ULI recommended that sidewalks be placed on at least one side of the street within residential develop- ments. In areas with major streets that served as approaches to schools, shopping centers, bus stops, and other focal points, the ULI recommended sidewalks on both sides of the street.261 The American Society of Planning Officials (ASPO) provided the following guidelines regarding when sidewalks 253 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 4-6. 254 Urban Land Institute, 173. 255 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Neighbor- hoods for Small Houses, 13. 256 United States Federal Housing Administration, Planning Profitable Neighborhoods, 8-11; United States Federal Housing Administration, Successful Subdivisions, 13-18. 257 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 62. 258 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 62. 259 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 69. 260 American Society of Planning Officials, âSidewalks in the Suburbs,â Information Report No. 95 (Chicago: American Society of Planning Officials, February 1957), 18. 261 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 64.
77 were not needed: if lots are large enough that children will not play in the streetâtypically 100 ft of frontage or more, and lots are large and spread out far enough from each other and amenities to discourage walking. Subdivisions that met these criteria were considered âopen,â âresidential estates,â or âcountry homeâ developments.262 By 1957 design standards were in place for sidewalks, with the American Public Works Associationâs Sidewalks and Curbs considered to be the standard manual. In residential develop- ments sidewalks were recommended to be a minimum width of 4 ft. The width was based on the standard dimension of an adult male from elbow to elbow (1 ft, 8 inches) allowing for 2, 2-ft travel lanes. However, in residential developments with large numbers of families, baby strollers, and children riding bicycles in sidewalks, 4 ft was considered too narrow.263 Wider sidewalks were also recommended for areas with commercial development or multi-family housing units, such as apart- ment buildings and row houses. Sidewalk placement was suggested to be at least 3 ft from the back edge of the curb and at least 7 ft if trees were planned for the terrace. The advantages outlined for this minimum setback included a space for snow to be deposited when clear- ing the roadway and sidewalk, a reduced âsplashâ zone from passing vehicles, safe distance between pedestrians and pass- ing vehicles, and ample space for fire hydrants, street signs, and utility poles. In addition, the terrace was seen as a safety mechanism, as children were less likely to ride wheeled toys across the grassy space and into the street.264 Rolled curbs, with a rounded edge, were preferred by developers due to a reduced cost over straight curbs and gut- ters. Rolled curbs also eliminated the need for driveway cuts, curbs, and aprons. However, straight curbs provided a more definite boundary between the road and parking lanes and the adjacent sidewalk and terrace, making sidewalks safer for pedestrians and children.265 Although the ULI and other agencies recommended that sidewalks be included in the initial subdivision or plat design, they are often lacking in postwar subdivisions across the county. Municipalities often had their own requirements regarding the inclusion of sidewalks and terraces. In some areas, sidewalks were required on only one side of the street or not required at all (see Figures 86 to 88).266 For example, postwar developments identified in Madison, Wisconsin; Arlington, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and throughout Georgia do not have sidewalks. 262 American Society of Planning Officials, âSidewalks in the Suburbs,â 4. 263 American Society of Planning Officials, âSidewalks in the Suburbs,â 10. 264 American Society of Planning Officials, âSidewalks in the Suburbs,â 14. 265 American Society of Planning Officials, âSidewalks in the Suburbs,â 12. 266 Due to the lack of requirements during the initial period of develop- ment, some subdivisions with existing sidewalks may have been retro- fitted during modern road improvement projects. Figure 88. Postwar Golf Green Subdivision in Madison, Wisconsin, platted in 1954-1955, without sidewalks on either side of the curvilinear street (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 87. Waynewood Subdivision in Fairfax County, Virginia, developed in the early 1960s with sidewalks on one side of the street (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration). Figure 86. Residential neighborhood in Ottumwa, Iowa, developed beginning in 1945, with sidewalks on both sides of the street (photograph courtesy of Molly Myers Naumann and the State Historic Preservation Office of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs).
78 Figure 91. Decorative signage at the entrance to the c.1960 Eastridge subdivision in El Paso, Texas (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 90. Sign at the entrance to the early 1960s Amberwood subdivision in north DeKalb County, Georgia (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). Figure 89. Simple sign along the perimeter of the c.1950 Interlachen Park neighborhood in Hopkins, Minnesota (Mead & Hunt photograph). c. Entrances and Perimeters In the postwar era, subdivision entrances and perimeters often incorporated distinctive fences, gates, and signage. Fences or plantings along the perimeter defined the plat or neighbor- hood, added privacy to outer lots, and also decreased the audi- ble noise from adjacent streets. When used in conjunction with a gate, the fences or plantings also provided a sense of increased security or affluence. Signs with the name of the subdivision or neighborhood were used throughout the county and may have been a way for developers to lend identity to similar-looking residential developments. Signs range from simple markers along the periphery (see Figure 89) to elaborate structures that reflect the architectural styles or namesakes of the subdivision or neighborhood (see Figures 90 and 91). d. Plantings Although much of the plantings in residential subdivisions were the responsibility of the homeowner, developers and builders were responsible for the overall landscape of the devel- opment and installing plantings in public, open space that fit with the overall neighborhood character. The ULI provided developers with guidance for plantings within residential subdi- visions. Shrubs were recommended only for areas where erosion control and screening were necessary. Hedges were suggested for strategic locations, including boundaries; however, varieties that maintained an acceptable appearance and required little pruning were preferred. Vines were considered to reduce noise and glare and were acceptable for use on masonry walls.267 See Section G.5 for more on residential plantings. Planting trees in terraces or boulevards, the space between the road and sidewalk, and along streets in areas without sidewalks was seen as standard practice for developers. To accommodate trees, the ULI suggested a terrace width of 8 ft since lesser widths could prove too narrow for proper tree growth, and the roots 267 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 79-80.
79 could cause sidewalk heaving. If the streets were too narrow to accommodate tree plantings on each side, the south or west side was preferred as those sides provided the most opportunity for shading the walk and yards. The use of flowering trees was rec- ommended for neighborhoods with higher price points. Vari- eties such as cherry, flowering crab, and dogwood could entice visitors during flowering season, thereby attracting potential homebuyers.268 6. Conclusion Developers were willing to accept the FHA and ULI stan- dards and guidelines, including the inclusion of neighborhood amenities, because compliance improved their possibility of home sales. It also meant that potential homebuyers had a higher probability of securing an FHA loan, contributing to a greater chance of selling homes in a development. 269 Adher- ence to these FHA guidelines for planning and development resulted in very similar subdivision appearances across the country. See Section C for more information on FHA pro- grams and policies. F. Postwar Building Materials and Construction Techniques 1. Advances in Materials Advances in materials technology and availability of new building materials played a significant role in the structure and appearance of residential architecture in the postwar era. Many materials, such as steel, were rationed during the war as the construction industry ground to a halt. However, new and non-traditional materials that were often heralded as mainte- nance free, fireproof, and energy efficient emerged during the war years and found new uses in postwar residential architec- ture. Research into new materials technology as a means to stimulate housing production found political support in the 1946 Veteransâ Emergency Housing Act, which provided fed- eral subsidies for producers of new materials. Supported by federal funding, materials that were experimented with dur- ing the Great Depression and the war years were applied to the residential housing market after the war. Some of the more prominent new home-building materials included stressed- skin plywood panels and steel frame wall panels. As an example of the federal governmentâs investment in new home-building techniques and materials, the Lustron Corporation received $22.5 million in government loans in the late 1940s.270 Material innovations and new materials, including alumi- num, steel, concrete block, simulated stone, fiberboard, ply- wood, glass block, fiberglass, and plastics, were all used for residential construction during the subject period. They are discussed in detail in this section, which is organized by mate- rial type.271 Established materials, such as asbestos shingle siding and stucco, continued to be used during the postwar period but are not addressed in this section. In addition to descriptions of materials and their technological histories, the range of material uses is considered, from structural sys- tems to exterior cladding, insulation, and decorative details. In particular, the postwar period witnessed considerable experimentation and innovation with structural systems, as wood and steel panel construction provided an alternative to the historic pre-cut lumber and balloon framing techniques. Construction techniques, including standardization and pre- fabrication, are addressed in a separate section that looks at the phenomenon of mass production. a. Metals Aluminum. Although aluminum was used as an interior building material as early as 1892 in Chicago, it gained wide- spread popularity in the early and mid-twentieth century as a lightweight material that could be easily fabricated and erected. The A.O. Smith Corporation Research and Engineering Build- ing (1930) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was one of the first American buildings to be clad in aluminum; sheet aluminum faced the walls, cornices, and parapets. With the advent of the Great Depression, aluminumâs use for architectural purposes declined. However, the aircraft industry reinvigorated the alu- minum industry during World War II, conducting research on aluminum alloys and requiring aluminum for wartime aircraft. Fabrication technologies improved considerably as a result of this improved knowledge. Aluminum was produced at a high level during the war, resulting in a considerable stock- pile and a plethora of large manufacturing facilities, and yet by 1952 aluminum production surpassed wartime levels.272 During the postwar period, aluminum became a critical component of the glass and metal curtain wall system of com- mercial construction. The possibilities of an all-aluminum cur- tain wall were also demonstrated by the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) Building of 1953, which featured prefab- ricated panels of sheet aluminum. In 1957 ALCOA partnered with architect Charles Goodman to develop their line of Care- free Homes (see Figures 92 and 93). Reflecting the popular Ranch form, the innovative design utilized ALCOA-produced 268 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 70, 78. 269 Girling and Helphand, 89. 270 Wright, 244. 271 Innovations in interior materials and features is not covered in this study. 272 Stephen J. Kelley, âAluminum,â Twentieth Century Building Materials: History and Conservation, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 47-49
80 aluminum exterior panels and roof materials, as well as inno- vative interior features that reduced maintenance, making the homes âcare free.â The production cast was higher than antici- pated and only 24 were constructed nationwide.273 Small-scale sheet aluminum houses were also developed by two prefabricated home companies: National Homes of Chicago and Reliance Homes of Philadelphia. National Homes fabricated aluminum houses at the factory and deliv- ered the home in two sections to be joined on site. Reliance Homes used corrugated aluminum panels that were shipped to the house site in seven sections and featured flat roofs.274 Within the residential building market, aluminum also emerged as a popular material, used for doors, windows, and siding. Frank Hoess of Hammond, Indiana, is often credited as the father of aluminum siding with his 1937 invention of an aluminum siding configuration that imitated the more tra- ditional wood clapboard appearance. However, his 1939 pat- ent for a locking joint was perhaps his greatest invention. A small flap at the top of each panel of metal siding locked with a flange on the bottom of the panel above it, creating a water- proof seal. Successfully marketed to the American public as a weather-proof, fireproof, and vermin-proof wall cladding that did not need painting, aluminum clapboard siding was used on more than three million homes by 1960 (see Figure 94).275 In 1946 Hoess entered into a distribution deal with Metal Building Products of Detroit, which sold his patented designs, including unpainted, 4-, 6-, and 8-inch-wide clapboard-style panels. By the end of 1946 several housing projects featured aluminum siding, including a 31-unit development near Pitts- burgh. This subdivision was reportedly the first in America to exclusively feature aluminum siding. Nonetheless, due to increasing competition, Metal Building Products was out of business by the end of 1948. Perhaps the most successful alu- minum siding producer of the postwar era was Reynolds Metal of Richmond, Virginia, which leased an aluminum sheet- rolling mill from the federal government after the war in an effort to alleviate the housing shortage. In 1946 the company released plans for a Cape Cod-style residence with an alumi- num frame, sheet aluminum interior and exterior, a cement insulation system that would make the house rigid, and wide- lap aluminum siding. Although Reynolds abandoned efforts to market this factory-built house, the company did continue efforts to apply aluminum to the residential housing market. By August 1946 the company featured a full line of aluminum materials, including siding and roof shingles.276 Figure 93. Detail of ALCOA Care-free House in Lincoln, Massachusetts (photograph courtesy of John A. Burns, FAIA). Figure 92. ALCOA Care-free House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with a white anodized standing seam roof, purple anodized corrugated wall panels, and anodized yellow door cladding (photograph courtesy of John A. Burns, FAIA). 273 Robert T. Englert, Alcoa Care-free Home National Register Nomina- tion, 8-2 - 8-6. 274 Jennifer Sale Crane, âPostwar Prefabricated Homes in the Washing- ton, D.C. Suburbs,â Unpublished paper presented at the Vernacular Architecture Forum Conference, May 2010, 12. Figure 94. Three c.1945 Minimal Traditional residences in St. Cloud, Minnesota, with aluminum siding (Mead & Hunt photograph). 275 Kelley, 49; John Lauber, âAnd It Never Needs Painting: The Devel- opment of Residential Aluminum Siding,â APT Bulletin 31, no. 2/3 (2000), 17-19. 276 Lauber, 19-21. Reynolds Group Holdings is still in operation; it was acquired by ALCOA in 2000.
81 The key product in the Reynolds Metals building material line was the clapboard-style siding with an 8-inch exposure. The siding came in either a plain or embossed (weather- board) surface and was marketed as weather-proof and low maintenance. Reynolds Metals pursued an aggressive adver- tising campaign in both trade publications and the popu- lar press. Full-color advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post occurred with regularity and persuaded the American homeowner to consider this novel productâs beauty and con- venience. Within 18 months (by 1947) Reynolds Metals esti- mated that its production of aluminum was enough to side and roof 141,113 five-room homes.277 Like Reynolds Metals, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Company of Washington State acquired federally owned aluminum plants in an effort to support the increased pace of new home construction. Kaiserâs signature product was 7-inch-wide aluminum siding with a curved face, which was purportedly so strong that it would not need intermediate sheathing when attached to the houseâs studs. Kaiserâs market- ing methods included the use of model homes in California and a national network of jobbers who would sell the product wholesale from their warehouses to local contractors.278 One of the most innovative developments in aluminum siding during the postwar years was the development of baked enamel siding, marketed in a variety of colors. In 1947 Jerome Kaufman of Akron, Ohio, teamed up with chemists from Sherwin-Williams to develop a factory-applied coat- ing system with a life-span of 10 to 15 years. His company, Alside Incorporated, began selling pre-painted siding in the spring of 1948. Advertisements presented this product, which came in white, cream, or gray, as âpermanent, fireproof, lightweight, coldproof, heatproof, termiteproof, and water- proof.â The success of Kaufmanâs enterprise was immediate, and within several months, Reynolds and Kaiser also offered factory-painted aluminum siding.279 Among the other companies that distributed aluminum siding was Sears, Roebuck & Company, whose 1949 prod- uct was akin to Reynoldsâ aluminum weatherboard siding. By 1954 Sears offered factory-painted green, white, gray, and buff aluminum clapboards as the ânewest thing in siding for homes.â280 Despite the early success of the aluminum indus- try in the aftermath of World War II, the Korean War quickly curtailed aluminum production for the civilian market in 1950 as the National Production Authority (NPA) leveled constraints on the use of aluminum.281 As the housing crisis ended in the mid-1950s and the pace of new construction slowed, the residential aluminum sid- ing industry responded by promoting the material for home improvement projects. The industry did see a renewed inter- est in using the material for new construction in 1959 when National Homes and ALCOA developed a prefabricated house sided with clapboard-style aluminum (see Section G.3 for more information on National Homes). With siding offered in white, green, gray, yellow, or beige, ALCOA used an aggressive advertising campaign to gain considerable market share in the residential market. By the end of the postwar period, many small fabricators of aluminum siding fell to the name recogni- tion of larger producers.282 Nonetheless, aluminum proved an important material in the residential postwar housing market, and its use as durable wall cladding continues today. Steel. Steel was a prominent architectural and engineering material prior to World War II. However, the development of high-strength weathering steel impacted the materialâs usage during the postwar years. Weathering steel is a low-carbon steel alloy that develops a thin, protective brown patina when exposed to outdoor conditions. This patina differs in chemi- cal composition and appearance from rust that commonly develops on most steel types. Corrosion-resistant, low-alloy steels were first developed by U.S. Steel Company in 1929. Four years later, U.S. Steel introduced a low-alloy, high-tensile product line that included Cor-Ten A and Cor-Ten B. Initially, U.S. Steel promoted this product for railroad equipment; how- ever, the architectural industry quickly adopted this product for its purpose. Structural shapes including I-beams, channel beams, sheets, plates, ledges, columns, and light standards could be fabricated of weathering steel and installed by weld- ing or bolting. The first unpainted weathering steel building in the United States was Eero Saarinen and Associatesâ Deere Company Administrative Center (1958) in Moline, Illinois.283 Postwar architectural steel usage is perhaps most often linked to the history of prefabricated housing and the âsteel house.â As a result of developments in the steel industry dur- ing the Depression era and World War II, in both steel com- position and manufacturing processes, âall steelâ was seen as a symbol of progress. Improvements in machine fabrication led to improved design and lowered cost. In particular, metal 277 Lauber, 21. 278 Lauber, 22. Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Company is now head- quartered in Foothill Ranch, California, but was founded in Washington state in 1946. 279 Lauber, 22-23. Alside, Inc. is now a subsidiary of Associated Materials, Inc. Headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the company specializes in vinyl siding, windows, doors, and fencing. 280 Holly Hope, âThe Thrill of a New Home Without the Cost: The Evolution of Residential Siding Materials in Arkansas,â http://www. arkansaspreservation.com/historic-properties/national-register/ siding_materials.asp (accessed 3 March 2011), 36. 281 Holly Hope, 36-37. 282 Holly Hope, 36-38. 283 John C. Scott and Carolyn L. Searls, âWeathering Steel,â Twentieth- Century Building Materials: History and Conservation, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 73-77.
82 panel systems were a popular, if somewhat limited, prefabri- cated house system during the period. Although steel supplies were tight immediately following World War II, the federal government would soon allocate its surplus to alleviate hous- ing needs. Companies including the Lustron Corporation, a division of the Chicago Vitreous Enamel Products Company with a plant in Columbus, Ohio, and the William H. Harman Corporation of Philadelphia used steel panels to develop prefabricated housing systems. The Lustron Corporationâs material innovations are discussed herein. Another lesser known example of repurposed steel was the Harman Corpo- rationâs riveted steel panel Ranch home designed by architect Oscar Stonorov. However, in 1946, only seven of a planned 105-unit subdivision in Arlington County, Virginia, were ever constructed, and only one model home was built in an unre- alized College Park, Maryland, subdivision.284 Porcelain Enamel. German and Austrian engineers first developed the process of enameling metal sheets in the mid- nineteenth century. Porcelain enamel was durable and easy to clean, so it is not surprising that the manufacturers of appli- ances and bathroom and kitchen fixtures adopted this material. Within the United States, metal enameling was accomplished on an industrial scale by the turn of the twentieth century. Before sheets of low-carbon steel were available in the early twenti- eth century, manufacturers used iron as the base metal for the enameling process. However, during World War II, a break- through allowed lower heat to be used for the process, which, in turn, allowed manufacturers to use lighter-gauge metal. This resulted in lower, more affordable prices for the panels.285 One of the leading manufacturers of porcelain enamel was the Chicago Vitreous Enamel Products Company, which produced tank armor during World War II. During the war years, the company hired engineer and inventor Carl Strand- lund to retool and run the production plant for the war effort. Strandlundâs production plant innovations resulted in dra- matically increased production with decreased production time. He also developed an architectural panel at the end of the war, which featured âa novel and improved construction with an arrangement of interlocking and sealing adjacent porcelain enamel panels, units, or adjoining connecting parts of the exterior or interior walls of a building or structure of any type or designâ (see Figure 95).286 This panel would become the critical component of the well-known Lustron house, a prefabricated porcelain enamel house. In 1947 Strandlund established the Lustron Corporation and was granted the first of several multi-million dollar loans from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), through the Veteransâ Emergency Housing Act, to begin production. Within the former warplane manufacturing plant in Colum- bus, Ohio, the Lustron Corporation began producing dem- onstration houses, of which 100 were erected in almost every major city in the Midwest and eastern United States by April 1949. Lustron houses were sold through a network of dealers, and at its peak the Lustron Corporation had 230 dealers in 35 states. Despite Strandlundâs optimism, the Lustron Corpo- ration ultimately declared bankruptcy in 1950 as production levels proved lower than originally predicted, building inspec- tors balked at the new structural system, and the U.S. Senate banking subcommittee investigated RFC loans and recalled the Lustron Corporationâs loan. More than 60 years later, as many as 2,000 of these homes survive across the country. Lustron homes are discussed in more detail in Section G.3.287 b. Masonry Concrete. Like the metals discussed in the previous sec- tion, concrete was a well-established building material before World War II. However, its use for precast concrete blocks or concrete masonry units (CMUs) was expanded upon during the 1940s and 1950s as a means to quickly construct lower cost housing. Concrete could be poured into molds and hard- ened into strong, rigid sections of nearly any size and config- uration. As such, it provided great flexibility for prefabricated housing during World War II and the postwar era. Hollow concrete blocks were first manufactured in the early twentieth century after Harmon S. Palmer invented the cast iron block machine. The popularity of the concrete block grew Figure 95. Porcelain enamel coated steel panels on a c.1950 Madison, Wisconsin, Lustron home (Mead & Hunt photograph). 284 Crane, 11-12. 285 âLustron History,â Lustron Preservation, http://www.lustronpreservation. org/meet-the-lustrons/lustron-history (accessed 10 March 2011). 286 âLustron History,â n.p. 287 âLustron History,â n.p.
83 tremendously during the first two decades of the twentieth century. As portland cement became more available, block manufacturers organized to create standard block sizes, and the industry began to use testing to improve the materialâs reliability and durability. Trade organizations also began to promote concrete block usage in magazines, catalogues, and books. Usage of the material grew consistently except for a short decline during the Depression, and by 1951, 1.6 billion concrete blocks were being produced in the United States.288 One of the primary innovations in concrete block manufac- turing was the introduction of lightweight aggregates to address the heaviness of the product. The results were products such as cinder blocks; Haydite, which incorporated shale; Pottsco (later Celocrete), which incorporated furnace slag treated with water; and Waylite, which introduced a slag expanded with steam.289 By 1943 precast CMUs were used in more than 10 percent of the nationâs new homes per year. The material continued to be used as a structural system and wall material during the postwar period, particularly for lower cost home building.290 During the 1950s and 1960s perforated precast concrete block units became a popular feature of American architec- ture. Used for both interiors and exteriors in postwar archi- tecture, screen blocks were inexpensive, durable, stylish, and adaptable to many uses. As an architectural screen, decora- tive pierced concrete blocks could obscure fenestration and walls while adding a stylistic touch to otherwise undecorated modern structures. They also saw frequent use as privacy fencing within the larger postwar subdivision landscape (see Figures 96 and 97).291 Architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright were among the first to experiment with pierced concrete walls. In their mid-1920s textile-block houses, the Wrights filled pierced blocks with glass to add windows within the housesâ exterior walls. Despite their early efforts, it was not until the 1950s that perforated concrete blocks enjoyed widespread popularity. The architect perhaps most responsible for the materialâs rise to popular consciousness was Edward Durrell Stone. Stone used his signature concrete block grille in the noteworthy 1956 American Institute of Architects (AIA) award-winning Stuart Company headquarters in Pasadena, California, and the Amer- ican embassy in New Delhi, India. Stoneâs frequent use of con- crete grilles on widely publicized high-style buildings resulted in increased popularity of perforated concrete block for more modest, vernacular buildings. The material was frequently used for detailing store fronts, partitioning offices, fencing parking lots, and constructing half-walls (such as fences or at entryways) for many single-family residences.292 In the mid-1950s, 17 of Californiaâs largest block manufactur- ers combined into Quality Block Producers. They initiated mar- ket studies and publicity campaigns in an effort to appeal to both prospective home buyers and existing homeowners looking for a way to renovate or brighten their house. Quality Block Pro- ducersâ marketing efforts cleverly associated the concrete screen block with Californian lifestyle and the âPopuluxeâ style. Con- crete screen blocks were intensely popular during the postwar period, but by the late 1960s, the material was becoming passÃ©.293 Simulated Stone. Simulated stone products of the post- war period can be understood as an extension of previous 288 Pamela H. Simpson, Harry J. Hunderman, and Deborah Slaton, âConcrete Block,â Twentieth Century Building Materials, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 80-83. 289 Simpson, Hunderman, and Slaton, 82-83. 290 Alfred Bruce and Harold Sandbank, A History of Prefabrication (Raritan, N.J.: John B. Pierce Foundation, Housing Research Division, September 1945), 40. 291 Anthony Rubano, âThe Grille is Gone: The Rise and Fall of Screen Block,â Preserving the Recent Past 2, 109-117. Figure 96. Concrete screen providing increased privacy at the rear patio of this c.1966, Worthington Hills, Ohio, Ranch house (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 97. Concrete screen at the front entrance of a c.1964 Ranch house in Sacramento, California (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). 292 Rubano, 110-111. 293 Rubano, 111-114.
84 efforts to imitate masonry. From late-nineteenth-century cast stone to early-twentieth-century rock-faced concrete block, numerous efforts had been made to simulate stone. However, the products of the Depression era and postwar period, which were comprised of a variety of materials including cement, minerals, epoxy, and fiber glass, provided a more flexible product. Using an established technology, simulated stone products were popular in many styles and forms of postwar residential construction, particularly as a facade treatment. Typically manufactured on site and applied as a facing mate- rial, these products were marketed for both new construc- tion and home renovation projects as an easy way to update a buildingâs exterior (see Figure 98).294 One of the best known of the proprietary simulated stone products is Perma-Stone, produced by the Perma-Stone Company of Columbus, Ohio, which is often considered the âoriginator of moulded stone wall-facing.â295 A cementi- tious product, Perma-Stone was marketed and sold through trained dealers by 1929. The company provided molds and materials, including portland cement, aggregate, crushed quartz, mineral colors, and metallic hardeners, to dealers across the country who installed the product. The success of Perma-Stone led to the growth of competing companies and innovations in simulated stone products. Formstone, a product of the Lasting Products Company in Baltimore, was first available in 1937. The on-site manufacture and applica- tion of Formstone was done by registered contractors who were trained by the company. Another competitor was the Rostone Company of Lafayette, Indiana. Made of pressurized shale, alkaline earths, quarry waste (lime), and water, Ros- tone was first used on the Wieboldt-Rostone House for the Century of Progress Exhibition of 1933. While concrete was the most frequently used base material for simulated stone in the postwar period, fiber reinforced plastic panels became an available alternative by 1960. For instance, the product Terox was âmoulded in dies cast from selected quarry stoneâ and colored with pigments to imitate stone.296 Simulated stone could be manufactured off site or mixed on site and then applied to existing houses or used for new construction. These products capitalized on the signifying power of stone as a product of wealth and stability, and were marketed to middle-class America as an inexpensive material and way to enjoy the prominence of stone. Like aluminum, simulated stone companies advertised their product as main- tenance free, fireproof, and energy efficient, thus appealing to buyers looking for an inexpensive product for their new home or their modernizing renovation project. Perma-Stone, Formstone, and Rostone saw their popularity peak in the 1950s and decline by the 1980s as mass-produced aluminum and vinyl siding overtook the market.297 c. Wood Fiberboard. Fiberboard is a sheet building material comprised of wood fiber and/or other vegetable fiber. It can be manufactured in numerous densities and thicknesses and has been used historically for insulation, sheathing, and fin- ishing of both interiors and exteriors. There are three cat- egories of fiberboard: insulation board, medium density fiberboard, and hardboard. Fiberboard was often laminated. Both mechanically produced and chemically processed fiber- boards were treated with adhesives to prevent termite dam- age and fungal growth. Additional materials, such as rosin, turpentine, asbestos, and asphalt, could be incorporated into the processing to improve tensile strength or resistance to water, fire, and vermin. The greater density of hardboard was accomplished by applying increased pressure and higher temperatures during processing. As a building product, fiber- board is best known by its trade names, including Masonite, Homasote, American Wallboard, Beaver Board, Cornell Board, Feltex, Fir-tex, Insulite, Nu-Wood, Upson Board, and others.298 Although fiberboard was first patented in the United States in 1858, housing shortages in the 1930s and during World War II provided the impetus for continued development of insulation and wallboard materials. Prior to World War II, the Homasote Company of Trenton, New Jersey, developed 294 Ann Milkovich McKee, âStonewalling America: Simulated Stone Products,â CRM No. 8, 1995, 30-33. 295 McKee, 30. Figure 98. Simulated stone on facade of a c.1945 Minimal Traditional house in Lansing, Michigan (Mead & Hunt photograph). 296 Holly Hope, 44-45; McKee, 30-31. 297 McKee, 30-33. 298 Carol S. Gould, Kimberly A. Konrad, Kathleen Catalano Milley, and Rebecca Gallagher, âFiberboard,â Twentieth Century Building Materials, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 120-122.
85 specific products for prefabricated housing. In particular, their products and structural system enabled the quick erec- tion of wartime homes needed to serve the defense indus- try, including 977 homes constructed in 73 days in Vallejo, California, and 54 houses erected each day for a community of 5,000 single-family homes in Norfolk, Virginia. The fiberboard industry responded to the postwar hous- ing crisis by developing rapid production and finishing tech- niques in order to mass produce insulation boards. Some of the techniques included applying paints, lacquers, plastics, and metals to improve boards for interior and exterior finishing. By 1957 more than 600 patents existed for fiberboard-related products, ranging from architectural products to furniture. Emphasizing fiberboardâs ability to lower home-building costs, a Time Magazine article from 1958 recognized the inno- vations behind a Masonite product featuring wall sections with built-in insulation. The product also included an exte- rior hardboard surface with an interior plastic-coated surface, soundproof ceilings in composition sections, and an exterior paint by Du Pont with a 20-year lifetime.299 The fiberboard industry witnessed increased competition from plywood and particleboard companies beginning in the 1960s.300 Plywood. Assembled of hardwood or softwood veneers bonded by an adhesive, plywood is recognized for its resistance to splitting, ability to be molded into curves, high strength- to-weight ratio, and stability. As such, it was well suited for architectural purposes, both structural and decorative. First patented in 1865, plywood panels were most frequently used for furniture, door panels, sewing machine covers, and pin planks in pianos during the late nineteenth century. It was not until World War I, when testing was done to develop plywood for airplane construction that the plywood industry began to develop more rapidly. The growth of plywood as a struc- tural material was inherently linked to the quality of adhesive used to glue the veneers. In the 1930s experiments and test- ing improved upon the properties of incorporated adhesives in order to offer water resistance. Other important manufac- turing advances occurred during World War II, including the development of electronic heating devices that could cure plywood adhesives at lower temperatures without changing the moisture content of the panels, and the development of the bag molding process that enabled molding plywood into curves. The greatest growth in the industry was seen after World War II; between 1939 and 1947 the total output of plywood increased 380 percent, and the number of plywood manufacturers increased to 150 (from 50 in 1932).301 Stressed-skin plywood is a type of structural plywood that is formed with plywood sandwiched with layers of insulating or finishing materials and glued under pressure to a thin-ribbed frame to create a load-bearing unit. Foster Gunnisonâs pre- fabricated housing company, located in New Albany, Indiana, was an industry leader in the production of stressed-skin ply- wood panels. The Gunnison Housing Corporation was the first to use a moving production line for the manufacture of stressed-skin plywood panels. The panels were 4 ft wide and one-story tall with preinstalled doors and windows. Gunnisonâs efforts to build prefabricated homes of plywood panels began during the Depression and World War II eras, and at the peak of the war, his factory produced 600 homes per month for war housing projects. Gunnison Housing Corporation was pur- chased by U.S. Steel in 1944, and the company continued to manufacture stressed-skin plywood panel system houses for their postwar prefabricated housing line (see Section G.3 for more on Gunnison Homes).302 Another fabricator of stressed- skin plywood prefabricated homes was TechBuilt Homes of Boston. TechBuiltâs system featured 4-ft wide stressed-skin plywood panels attached to a wood framing system.303 Although efforts were made to use plywood in prefab- ricated houses, it was more widely used for sheathing and subflooring. Factory-prefinished plywood panels were first introduced by the U.S. Plywood Corporation in the mid- 1940s as Plankweld, and were used frequently through the 1950s. The panels were coated with a color compound and sealed with either lacquer or a clear synthetic coating. Striated panels were also produced for exterior sheathing under the name Weldtex, which featured V-grooves.304 Plywood served as a lower cost substitute for traditional wood siding in the postwar years, with Texture 1-11 (frequently referred to as T 1-11) as one of the best known examples. d. Glass Glass Block. Hollow glass block was first brought to the commercial market by Structural Glass Corporation in 1929 just before the stock market crash. As a result of the Great Depression, two major glass manufacturers, Owens Bottle Company and Illinois Glass Company, merged into Owens- Illinois of Toledo, Ohio. In 1932 the company produced the first Owens-Illinois glass block, a machine-pressed, soda-lime glass unit sealed with flat glass plates. This product was promi- nently featured at Chicagoâs 1933 Century of Progress Fair in the Owens-Illinois Companyâs glass block building. The com- pany continued to innovate during the Depression years to improve the strength and cost of the product. Competition 299 âHousing: More for Less,â Time Magazine, 27 October 1958. 300 Gould, Konrad, Milley, and Gallagher, 121-124; Bruce and Sandbank, 59. 301 Thomas C. Jester, âPlywood,â Twentieth Century Building Materials, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 132-134. 302 Crane, 9-10; Bruce and Sandbank, 64. 303 Crane, 10-11. 304 Jester, 135.
86 also quickly developed from New Yorkâs Corning Glass Works, which developed the Pyrex construction block in 1935. Corn- ing Glass Works and Pittsburgh Plate Glass merged to manu- facture Pyrex blocks under the Pittsburgh-Corning Company name, and featured the block in their Manhattan headquar- ters building.305 Glass block was quickly adopted for residential use as manufacturers and architects developed applications for the home. Common uses included framing plate glass windows, rounding off building corners, constructing entire end walls of glass block, and combinations of glass block and steel casements for operating windows (see Figure 99). Resistant to mold, mildew, and grease, glass block also saw increased use in bathrooms and kitchens. Although glass block was used during the postwar period for residential construction, its heyday was in the 1930s. Nonetheless, Owens-Illinois and Pittsburgh-Corning continued to develop new glass block products in the 1950s, including the ceramic-faced and blue- tinted glass block (Owens-Illinois) and the redevelopment of rectangular glass blocks (Pittsburgh-Corning).306 Fiberglass. The development of fiberglass insulation for residential construction was the result of innovation during the Depression and World War II eras. In 1932 Dale Kleist, a scientist with Owens-Illinois, a leader in develop- ing and marketing new glass products, began experimenting with methods to melt glass rods. During his experiment, he unexpectedly produced a fine glass fiber. Predicting that this product could have many uses, Owens-Illinois and Corning Glass Works, the countryâs premier manufacturers of glass products, formed a joint venture in 1935. By 1937 the part- nership had developed numerous new products, including the first continuous filament fibers. The following year, the Owens-Corning Fiberglass Company was incorporated to manufacture glass-fiber products for residential construc- tion and industry and to develop related technologies. World War II provided the well-timed arena for developing these new technologies, including manufactured insulation and fireproof materials for naval ships and aircraft. After the war ended, Owens-Corning Fiberglassâ business boomed as it converted from wartime production. In particular, the com- pany expanded into new home construction with its new process for manufacturing building insulation and its distri- bution of Kaylo fiberglass pipes. Highlighting its signature insulation product, Owens-Corning launched its âComfort Conditioned Homeâ marketing campaign in 1957 to pro- mote fiberglass insulation in homes across the country. The company continued to dominate the market for fiberglass home insulation throughout the postwar period.307 Another use of fiberglass during the postwar period was for home improvement projects. The Glasteel Company of California is one company that promoted fiberglass panels for use as garage doors, carports, fences, pool enclosures, patio and porch roofs, balcony railings and dividers, green- houses, room partitions, folding doors and screens, window awnings and canopies, and luminous ceilings. Marketed as easy to work with, shatter proof, weather resistant, and dura- ble, the Glasteel Companyâs products included translucent panels in a variety of configurations, including corrugated, twin rib, flat, shiplap, and alternating curves. The products were also available in a number of colors such as tan, green, yellow, turquoise, mint, white, coral, and clear. Within their illustrated advertisements, the Glasteel Company provided instructions to the home improvement enthusiast for con- structing fencing, patio, carport or porch roofs, greenhouses, and awnings of fiberglass panels.308 Glass Panes. One of the defining features of postwar residential architecture is the incorporation of elevated and broad expanses of glass panes, particularly in picture win- dows, casement windows, and sliding glass windows and doors. One of the most innovative window manufacturers of the period was the Andersen Corporation of Bayport, Minnesota. Although the company got its start in the 1900s 305 Elizabeth A. Patterson and Neal A. Vogel, âThe Architecture of Glass Block,â Old-House Journal, January-February 2001, 221-226. 306 Patterson and Vogel, 221-226. Figure 99. Raised Ranch house in Cozad, Nebraska, constructed c.1955, with curved glass block windows near the entrance and at the basement level (Mead & Hunt photograph). 307 âOwens Corning Corporation: Company History,â Funding Universe, http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Owens-Corning- Corporation-Company-History.html (accessed 10 March 2011). 308 Glasteel, Inc., âA Guide for Building with Glasteel Fiberglass Panelsâ (El Monte, Calif.: Glasteel, Inc., ).
87 with the development of a mass-produced window frame, its innovations during the Great Depression and World War II contributed greatly to the periodâs architecture. After initiat- ing standard window sizes across the industry, the Andersen Corporation began developing the first prefabricated win- dow unit in 1932. As a result, a finished window could be installed in a matter of minutes. During World War II, the corporation converted to making gun cases and ammuni- tion boxes. To speed up production, the Andersen Corpora- tion developed high-speed machines to cut the parts quickly and to spray-paint and mark parts before assembly. After the war, the company transferred its machinery and produc- tion techniques back to window manufacturing. New post- war concepts in window design developed by the Andersen Corporation included a âPressure Sealâ window, which elim- inated pulley-and-weight systems; a gliding window; a pic- ture window flanked by casements, which was advertised as a âWindow Wallâ; and a new awning window called âFlexiventâ (see Figure 100).309 Using marketing techniques, such as Andersen Corpora- tionâs Home Plannerâs Scrap Book during World War II, com- panies played on consumer frustration that building materials were unavailable. Manufacturers, including Andersen, sold scrapbooks for consumers to save ideas for future construc- tion, essentially serving as a dream book for home planners. To promote Andersen Corporationâs product, the scrapbook included a section on âWindow Beauty Ideas.â By the end of the war, more than 350,000 copies of the scrapbook had been sold, and not surprisingly the advertising techniques succeeded as Andersen saw its market share grow considerably during the postwar period. In particular, its growth in the 1950s was fueled by the development of the Flexivent awning window in 1952, which featured welded insulating glass that effec- tively eliminated the need for conventional storm windows. The Flexivent window was originally available in nine sizes, and a follow-up Flexiview picture window was introduced in 1954 (see Figure 101). By 1958 the Andersen Corporation offered Flexivent windows in 15 sizes and picture windows in three sizes. Within 2 years of releasing the Flexivent awning window in 1952, the Andersen Corporationâs market share doubled, and by 1963 more than 10 million Flexivent win- dows had been manufactured and sold. During the 1960s the company introduced the gliding door and Perma-shield sys- tem, which featured a low-maintenance vinyl cladding to pro- tect wood sashes from exposure to the elements. According to Figure 100. Details regarding Andersen Beauty Line windows from Strauss Brotherâs 1957 promotional booklet. 309 âAndersen Corporation,â Funding Universe, http://www.fundinguniverse. com/company-histories/Andersen-Corporation-Company-History.html (accessed 10 March 2011); Clark, 194-196. Figure 101. Grouping of 12 Flexivent windows on the rear elevation of a c.1953 Ranch home in Lincoln, Nebraska (Mead & Hunt photograph).
88 the company, this vinyl-clad window was its most important innovation, and became an industry standard.310 e. Plastics As with many of the materials previously discussed, inno- vations in plastics occurred during the Depression and World War II eras as manufacturers looked for cheaper and more durable building materials. Exhibitions at Chicagoâs 1933 Century of Progress and the 1939 New York Worldâs Fair demonstrated many of these new products, including plas- tics. As a result of these innovations, plastics became a com- mon material in the postwar home, particularly in interior furnishings and built-ins. For example, Formica, which was invented in 1913 as an insulating material, was improved upon and adopted as a popular counter-top surface in the postwar home. Clear Lucite was often used in custom fur- niture in the 1950s, and Bakelite was re-designed and mar- keted in bright new colors during the period for use as drawer knobs, light bulb sockets, handles, radios, and jewelry.311 Fiber Reinforced Plastics. Fiber reinforced plastics (FRPs) can be comprised of a variety of polymers, including acrylics, vinyls, polyolefins, phenolics, and polyesters, in combination with reinforcing fibers such as asbestos, carbon fibers, and glass fibers. For building applications, glass fibers with polyester res- ins are the most typical combination and are often referred to as fiberglass. Because glass fibers were not manufactured until the late 1930s by Owens-Corning, FRPs were not used frequently until World War II. Between 1941 and 1942 the introduction of cold low-pressure molding resin polyesters and allyl digly- col carbonate, a low-pressure laminating resin, transformed the industry and enabled the use of glass fibers for reinforce- ments. Within 2 years, Winner Manufacturing was fabricating FRP boats, and the war continued to spur interest and develop- ment of this new material. Following World War II, the material proved well suited for the building industry. Corrugated fiber reinforced translucent sheets were the dominant form of the material in the building industry and were introduced in the late 1940s. By the mid-1960s the two major FRP products were Sanpan panels, manufactured by Panel Structures of East Orange, New Jersey, and Kalwall pan- els, manufactured by Kalwall Corporation of Manchester, New Hampshire. During the postwar years, the development of FRPs focused on the materialâs plasticity and moldability, as well as its adaptability to structural applications using sandwiched con- struction techniques. FRP was also developed as a wall cladding for buildings with steel or concrete structural frames, roofing trim, gutters and flashing, corrugated sheeting, roof lights, and plastic forms for concrete. Moreover, FRP was often used on interior walls to create a sanitary wall surface in moisture-prone and hard-to-clean areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.312 Vinyl Siding. Vinyl siding was first introduced as wall cladding in the late 1950s to early 1960s by a manufacturing plant in Columbus, Ohio.313 Manufactured primarily with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl sidingâs properties include impact resistance, rigidity, and strength. Vinyl siding was initially plagued by manufacturing difficulties that resulted in an inconsistent product. However, by the early 1970s the manufacturing process had evolved to improve the productâs speed of production, impact resistance, and range of pre- applied colors. The manufacturing process is accomplished by co-extrusion, whereby two layers of PVC are laid down in a continuous extrusion process. The top layer includes approximately 10 percent titanium dioxide, which is a pig- ment providing resistance to UV light breakdown. The sub- strate layer typically features 15 percent calcium carbonate, which balances the titanium dioxide during the manufactur- ing process. The weight of vinyl siding is predominately PVC resin (80 percent), with the remaining 20 percent composed of ingredients that establish color, opacity, gloss, impact resis- tance, flexibility, and durability. Although vinyl siding was introduced primarily as a remodeling wall cladding material, its use grew steadily over the next decades, and it is now the most commonly used siding product in the United States, as it surpassed aluminum siding in the early 1980s.314 2. Mass Production, Standardization, and Prefabrication Although the prefabricated, mass-produced house is often associated with the post-World War II period, its history is heavily routed in the Depression era, which gave rise to many new material and technological innovations as a way to lower the cost of housing.315 For instance, U.S. Steel, American Rolling 310 âAndersen Corporationâ; Clark, 196; Andersen Windows and Doors, âProduct Features and History,â http://www.andersenwindows.com/ homeowner/pdfs/History.pdf (accessed 10 March 2011). 311 Shirley Maxwell and James C. Massey, âFrom Dark Times to Dream Houses,â Old-House Journal (September-October 1999), 187. 312 Anthony J. T. Walker, âFiber Reinforced Plastic,â Twentieth Century Building Materials, ed. Thomas C. Jester (New York: McGraw Hill, 1995), 142-146. 313 The name of the independent manufacturing plant is unknown. 314 Vinyl Siding Institute, âHistory,â American Vinyl Siding Institute, http:// www.vinylsiding.org/aboutsiding/history/index.asp (accessed 10 March 2011); âBrief History of Aluminum and Vinyl Siding,â House Home Repair, http://www.househomerepair.com (accessed 1 April 2011). 315 Prefabrication, particularly in the sense of pre-cut and ready-built homes, did exist as early as the nineteenth century; however, it was not until the Depression and World War II eras that efforts to prefabricate housing resulted in a wholesale modernization of the home-building industry.
89 Mills, and Republic Steel used housing subsidiaries to develop steel housing suitable for prefabrication; the Harnischfeger Corporation, a Milwaukee machinery manufacturer, applied its manufacturing processes to attempt mass-produced housing; and plywood companies sought new ways to use their product (see Section G.3 for more information on the Harnischfeger Corporation). Despite their innovations, none of these compa- nies, or the many others tackling the problem of prefabricated housing and new materials, achieved great production volumes prior to World War II.316 In addition to corporate development, several non- commercial foundations experimented with prefabricated housing prior to World War II. The Albert Farwell Bemis Foun- dation, established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1938, continued the work of Albert Bemis of Bemis Indus- tries, who experimented with structural materials and construc- tion methods throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Even prior to a growing national interest in prefabrication, Bemis Industries experimented with steel, gypsum blocks, precast gypsum slabs for walls, and composition board and steel panels for houses. Bemis Industries also advocated the development of modular systems for home building in order to simplify construction by using standard repetitive members.317 The John B. Pierce Foundation of New York City also contributed greatly to the early pre fabrication movement during the 1920s and 1930s. The foundation, endowed by John B. Pierce, Vice President of the American Radiator Company, was chartered to promote scientific and technical improvements in heating, ventilation, and sanitation. The Foundation also expanded its work to pro- mote economic uses of building materials to provide a home at the lowest cost possible. In addition to materials, the Pierce Foundation also studied the most efficient floor plans for low- cost housing. Completing a review of work by other agencies, the Foundation concluded in the early 1940s that a single-story, 24-ft by 28-ft house would become standard in prefabrication.318 The federal government was also involved with the move- ment to develop materials and systems for prefabricated housing. In particular, the Bureau of Standards in the Depart- ment of Commerce undertook tests of structural methods, materials, equipment, and prefabricators to establish univer- sal standards throughout the industry. Additionally, the Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agricultureâs Forest Service, located in Madison, Wisconsin, continued its research and development and testing of wood, especially ply- wood, as applied to prefabrication methods.319 Through its purchase of prefabricated dwellings for war workers, the federal government helped push the pre fabricated movement from a period of experimentation to mass produc- tion. In the immediate postwar years, the U.S. government continued its involvement with the housing and prefabrica- tion industries in an effort to alleviate the countryâs acute housing shortage. The 1946 Veteransâ Emergency Housing Act included federal funding and material allocations for prefabri- cated housing companies. Moreover, the Truman administra- tion appointed Wilson Wyatt to be Federal Housing Expediter; his mandate was to solve the postwar housing crisis. Wyatt promised to stimulate construction by providing subsidies for producers of factory-built homes and new materials. With the 1946 Veteransâ Emergency Housing Act and the RFCâs federal loans for the erection of large prefabricated housing plants, Wyatt paved the way for increased numbers of prefabricated home companies. By 1947 nearly 100 prefabrication compa- nies were operating across the country, and in the same year, the prefabricated home companies Kaiser Community Homes of Los Angeles, California, and National Homes of Lafayette, Indiana, constructed 2,500 houses. Subsequent legislation in the 1950s, including Congressâ 1951 authorization of loans to facilitate prefabricated home production, bolstered the indus- try. Prefabricated home construction peaked in the mid-1950s, comprising nearly 10 percent of total American housing pro- duction at its height.320 The factory-built or prefabricated home represented Americaâs industrial power and mass production capabilities. Innovators, manufacturers, and developers such as Foster Gunnison (of Gunnison Homes) and William Levitt aspired to large-scale mass production and standardization after the model of Henry Ford. Through economies of scale, mass pro- duction provided lower cost housing while also eliminating the inefficiencies of on-site home building.321 William Levitt of Levitt and Sons, in particular, exemplifies trends in large- scale home building. Using his experience building low-cost housing for gov- ernment defense developments during World War II, Levitt began to experiment with standardization, mass production, and large-scale home building. In 1947 Levitt purchased 1,400 acres of farmland in Long Island, New York, and began to develop the first of several Levittowns. Within a year he was erecting more than 35 houses per day and 150 houses per week by using an assembly line technique. By 1950 Levittâs crews could erect a house every 16 minutes. His home con- struction system began with the delivery of packaged mate- rials at 100-ft intervals in the development, followed by the excavation of rectangular foundations in which heating pipes were installed. Afterward, each home site became an assem- bly line of sorts, as crew members, materials, and machines 316 Bruce and Sandbank, 6-9. 317 Bruce and Sandbank, 10-11. 318 Bruce and Sandbank, 11-12. 319 Bruce and Sandbank, 13-14. 320 Crane, 3-4; Lauber, 17-19; Checkoway, 31-32; Maxwell and Massey, âFrom Dark Times to Dream Houses,â 187. 321 Crane, 1-2.
90 moved past each home site in teams, each team repeatedly performing one of 26 operations. Each part of the house was pre-assembled, prefabricated, or precut to specification in the factory and then assembled on site. Not only did Levitt incorporate assembly line production, he used vertical organization to help standardize the process and reduce costs. Levittâs own company supplied the lumber, which was cut from his timber using his equipment to the exact specifications and sizes required for the house. Nails and concrete blocks were manufactured at a Levitt-owned factory. Materials that were not produced by Levitt were delivered directly from manufacturers in order to eliminate the middle-man and inevitable cost mark-ups. By reducing charges and acting as his own supplier, Levitt eliminated the potentially costly distribution web.322 In addition to large builders such as Levitt and Sons, who perfected the methods for on-site mass production, a number of prefabricated housing companies changed the residential landscape. Immediately following the war, numerous compa- nies produced and marketed steel or aluminum prefabricated houses; however, wood, in general, was the preferred housing material for both prefabricated and conventional methods. Changes in technology and manufacturing led to the adop- tion of the panelized method of construction during the postwar period, a contrast from the preferred pre-cut lumber construction method of twentieth century catalogue homes. The panelized method involved large, factory-constructed, wall-height panels that would be joined on-site with nails or patented joinery methods. By the early 1950s, these panels were typically made of stressed-skin plywood.323 Between 1945 and 1960 more than 800,000 prefabricated homes were erected across the country, particularly on sub- urban lots in the upper Midwest. The states of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio were the center of the prefabricated home industry and home to companies such as Lustron, Gunnison, and U.S. Steel. The home designs of specific prefabricated manufactur- ers are discussed in Section G.3. Although prefabricated hous- ing, standardization techniques, and mass production did not, on their own, solve the postwar housing crisis, they were sig- nificant trends in home building during the period. With gov- ernment support, prefabricated home companies and material fabricators utilizing standardization methods developed into solid businesses serving customers across the country.324 3. Conclusion The proliferation of new and innovative building materi- als during the postwar period, resulting from experimenta- tion during the Great Depression and World War II, greatly impacted the design, construction, appearance, and market- ing of the postwar house. Coupled with these new materials was the invigoration of prefabrication and mass produc- tion techniques to meet the increased postwar demand for housing. In addition to the materials discussed, a number of already established cladding materials continued to be used during the post-World War II period, including asbestos, shingle siding, and stucco. Exterior cladding and regional dif- ferences in material usages are addressed herein as the post- war home is discussed in greater detail. G. Architecture, Site, and Landscape The majority of homes constructed during the 1940s through 1970s displayed the popular architectural forms and styles of the period, resulting in a similar appearance regardless of their location. This uniformity was a result of close adher- ence to FHA guidelines by local and regional builders, the ready availability of standardized building materials, and the influence of plan books and nationally distributed magazines that promoted the architectural styles of the era. As a result, with the exception of regional variations in materials and set- ting, Minimal Traditional, Ranch, and Split-level homes built across the country looked alike (see Figures 102 and 103). The form and layout of popular homes of the postwar era were greatly influenced by the concept of livability. The early FHA small houses were praised for their livability, and these compact homes became the basis for the architectural styles and forms that evolved during the following decades. The Ranch house, which came to dominate the postwar era, best represented this concept of livability with its open and casual floorplan and incorporation of outdoor living spaces. 322 Checkoway, 26-27. 323 Crane, 4-5. 324 Crane, 1; Wright, 245-246. Figure 102. Ranch house in Westminster, Colorado, with a hip roof, partial brick veneer, recessed entrance with decorative wrought iron details, and decorative shutters (photograph courtesy of Dianna Litvak, Colorado Department of Transportation).
91 1. Residential Design Characteristics As the FHA influenced the design of suburbs, it also greatly influenced standard residential designs of the period. In the 1936 edition of Principles of Planning Small Houses, the FHA provided minimum requirements related to the design and construction of homes.325 The small house, defined as having no more than six rooms, was an attempt to minimize the cost of a single-family home and create a livable space that met the needs of the family. In reducing the size of the house, many features of pre-Depression era homes were eliminated, such as fireplaces; room size and storage areas were reduced; room functions were combined; and, in some cases, basements were eliminated.326 During the early 1920s, when the American economy was recovering from World War I, the FHA developed guidelines for small houses that continued to influence residential con- struction in the postwar era and were revised periodically. During the postwar era, the FHA relied on these minimum standards as developers and builders constructed large num- bers of low-cost homes to meet the increased housing demand. The 1936 edition of Principles of Planning Small Houses included five house types that offered âa range in comfort of livingâ with slightly increased sizes.327 The exterior designs of these homes were conventional in appearance and mim- icked âtraditionalâ architecture, including a simpler form of the Colonial Revival style that had been popular in the previous decades, often referred to as Minimal Traditional. However, the interiors were newly modern as they incorpo- rated updated kitchen and bath designs as well as modern plumbing and electrical systems. The concept of the tradi- tional exterior and modern interior was promoted in Good Housekeeping in 1945: âWe believe a house can be completely modern in plan and equipment but still retain the friendli- ness and charm of traditional design.â328 The five house types in the FHAâs 1936 publication began with the most basic and scaled up in small increments. House A, which became known as the âFHA minimum house,â was a one-story, two-bedroom, 534-square-ft house. Its average cost was esti- mated at $1,200 to $1,500 depending on the exterior treatments, which could include wood siding or shingles, brick, stucco, or stone. The FHA advised that the house should be set on a con- crete slab on grade rather than a basement, which would increase costs. House B had a slightly larger floorplan, with 624 ft2 of liv- ing space. It was similar to House A, but the living room and kitchen were separated. FHA sketches included both a gable roof and hip roof version. Houses C and D were similar to House B: both had two bedrooms, but they were located on the second story along with the bathroom. House D included an optional detached garage, connected to the house by a covered walkway. The largest type, House E, featured three second story bedrooms. The exterior designs included in the publication for all five types feature classically inspired entrances, which were an attempt âto demonstrate that houses of this sort may be attractively designed without excessive ornamentationâ (see Figure 104).329 Across the U.S., companies and builders developed plans for the âsmall houseâ during the 1940s and 1950s, following the requirements set forth by the FHA. To make up for the compact size and small space, the following factors were taken Figure 103. Ranch house in Upper Arlington, Ohio, constructed c.1955, with a hip roof, brick veneer, recessed entrance with decorative wrought iron details, and decorative shutters (Mead & Hunt photograph). 325 Ames and McClelland, 61. 326 United States Department of Labor, New Housing and Its Materials, 1940-56, Bulletin No. 1231 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Print- ing Office, 1958), 3. 327 Ames and McClelland, 61. Figure 104. Minimal Traditional house in Madison, Wisconsin, constructed c.1945, with Colonial Revival details, including the decorative pendants and compass window (Mead & Hunt photograph). 328 As quoted in Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 130. 329 United States Federal Housing Administration, Principles of Planning Small Houses (Washington, D.C.: Federal Housing Administration, 1936), 24-33; Ames and McClelland, 62.
92 into consideration: minimizing the use of interior partitions to increase the room size; adding the appearance of height through the use of floor-length windows, skylights, and open ceilings; minimizing hall space by incorporating it into other rooms; utilizing built-ins and storage walls; grouping rooms by function; isolating the private âquietâ areas of home; and plan- ning the circulation and zoning to include adequate receiving space at the main entrance.330 The FHA house types could be placed on lots as narrow as 35 ft, although 40 ft was the preferred minimum width. The 1936 version of Principles of Planning Small Houses included an illustrated layout for a two-story house with a detached garage on a lot measuring 50 ft wide by 100 ft long. Both the FHA and ULI advised developers to consider lot conditions, vistas, sunlight, and prevailing breezes when siting homes. The kitchen was to be protected from the afternoon sun, if possible, and the living room and bedrooms were to have sunlight during part of the day. Garage placement was recom- mended to be near the front of the yard and attached to the house by a shared wall or covered walkway. This placement provided maximum space in the backyard and shortened the driveway, thereby reducing the cost.331 During the postwar baby boom, as the birth rate increased and average family size grew, the small size of a typical house was perceived as a limitation, and the demand for a larger house emerged. The Ranch house, with its increased square footage and more bedrooms and baths, was seen as an answer for growing families in a time of economic prosperity.332 The massing of the Ranch expanded to create a one-story rambling floorplan occupying the larger suburban lots that were predominant in the 1950s and 1960s. The Ranch form and other modern and spacious styles of housing quickly came to dominate postwar architecture beginning in the mid-1950s. The transition away from the small, or Minimal Tradi- tional, house led to an increase in house sizes as measured by square footage. In 1940 the average detached single-family house was 1,177 ft2 with five rooms. By 1950 the average size had decreased to 983 ft2. A significant spike in home con- struction in 1950, as compared to 1940, may have affected the average size.333 Beginning in the mid-1950s, the average size began an upward trajectory (see Table 4). With this increased square footage came an increased number of bedrooms and bathrooms. In 1950 only 34 percent of homes had three bed- rooms; however, this number had increased to 70 percent by 1956.334 The design of postwar homes specifically responded to the needs of the young family. Although Ranch houses of the 1950s featured less square footage than the average 1920s house, their one-story layout was well suited to women who envisioned fewer trips up and down stairs and were attracted by the advertised modern conveniences.335 Also key to the postwar home design was an open floor plan based on zoned planning that granted the housewife the visibility required to watch her children play in the living room from her perch in the kitchen or dining area. Similarly, large picture windows and sliding glass doors provided both visual and physical access to the backyard and the patios that became outdoor extensions of indoor living space. Year Average square footage 1940 1,177 1950 983 1954 1,140 1955 1,170 1956 1,230 1970 1,400 1975 1,645 Source: United States Department of Labor, New Housing and Its Materials, 1940-56, 27; U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/const/C25Ann/sftotalmedavgsqft.pdf (accessed 4 April 2011). Table 4. Average house sizes by year. 330 Norman Cherner, Fabricating Houses From Component Parts (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1957), 17-18. 331 United States Federal Housing Administration, Principles of Plan- ning Small Houses (1936), 34-35; Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1954), 101. 332 California Department of Transportation, Tract Housing in Cali- fornia, 1945-1973: A Context for National Register Evaluation (Sacra- mento, Calif.: California Department of Transportation, 2011), 71. By the mid-1960s the average house was 1,500 ft2 or 50 percent larger than the average house constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s. 333 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 151, 183. 334 United States Department of Labor, New Housing and Its Materials, 1940-56, 3. 335 Wright, 251.
93 Although the public areas of the house featured minimal walls and openness, bedrooms in the postwar house were enclosed in the traditional fashion and discretely separated from the family area of the house. Split-level houses, in par- ticular, segregated function by putting bedrooms on a dif- ferent half-level up or down from the recreation room. The parentsâ bedroom was often isolated from the childrenâs area. In separating children from parents in both bedrooms and recreational rooms, the postwar house became the âfirst child-oriented architecture in American history.â336 In developing the ideal home for the modern family, some builders surveyed potential home buyers and young fami- lies to identify the features they felt were important in resi- dential design. The majority of new home buyers wanted a new house rather than an older home or apartment, with a modern floor plan and appliances, large windows or patio doors, and an outdoor patio area.337 The Strauss Brothers of Lincoln, Nebraska, used the survey approach when develop- ing the Eastridge subdivision in Lincoln. The builders worked with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to survey modern families on the features they were looking for in a home. Their design team then incorporated these ideas into a limited num- ber of models and floorplans, which the builder then mar- keted. Known as Trendhomes, they featured open floor plans, modern kitchens, attached carports and garages, and patios.338 The one-story house came to dominate the postwar era. The compact yet open floorplan was ideal for young families with children and couples with grown children who wanted a retirement home. There were several one-story floorplans available to meet the needs of homebuyers, including the FHA small house models, the modern Ranch form, and Contem- porary styles with sprawling floorplans. A small percentage of homes constructed during the period contained one-and- one-half or two stories. The Minimal Traditional and Cape Cod styles often had an additional half story that contained bedrooms, or were left unfinished at the time of construc- tion completion for the home buyer to finish at a later date. The two-story floorplan was more popular in the Colonial Revival and Split-level homes of the period. As a result of the increased living space, two-story homes were typically more expensive than their single-story counterparts and were usually purchased by families in higher income brackets. Multi-story homes were more popular in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, representing 34 percent of the homes con- structed in 1953. However, that same year they represented less than 2 percent of the homes constructed in the southern United States.339 This popularity in the east may be due in part to the predominance and lingering influence of the more traditional Colonial Revival style. One of the more noticeable changes to residential design in the postwar era is the removal of the front porch. Homebuy- ers still wanted porches, but they preferred them at the back where they had increased privacy. As a result, the traditional porch shifted from its prominent location on the front to the rear of the house, where it became the patio.340 Builders were agreeable to eliminating the porch because they were an added construction expense. The popular Cape Cod, Ranch, and Split-level homes of the postwar era did not lend them- selves to porch additions and most âoutdoor livingâ improve- ments were completed on the patio.341 See Section G.5. for more information on patios. a. Material Use Although similar styles and forms were popular throughout the country, regional variations influenced exterior materials, as certain construction, siding, and roofing materials were more common in particular areas of the country. Nationally, wood had been the predominant exterior treatment during the early postwar period; 35 to 45 percent of conventional houses featured wood siding in 1950.342 Asbestos shingle was also common between 1940 and 1950, partly due to the scarcity of lumber during wartime rationing. However, brick veneer became more popular than wood by 1956, with stucco ranking as the second most popular material and wood as the third. Brick houses were popular in the South and North Cen- tral regions, as well as the Mid-Atlantic, and wood was more common in the Northeast. Regional variations also include stucco, which was predominant in the South and Southwest, especially California. In addition to being an inexpensive building material, stucco-on-frame construction was consid- ered to be earthquake resistant. As discussed in Section F, alu- minum siding also gained popularity in the postwar era and is often an original exterior siding material on postwar homes.343 336 Wright, 254-255; Clark, 212; Shirley Maxwell and James C. Massey, âPostwar Houses and the Cape Cods and Split-levels of the 1940s,â Old-House Journal (July-August 1992), 58. 337 Wright, 253-254. 338 Strauss Brothers, Thereâs a New Trend in Lincoln, n.p. 339 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 169-170. 340 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 88. 341 Michael Dolan, The American Porch, An Informal History of an Infor- mal Place (Guilford, Conn.: The Lyons Press, 2002), 231-234. 342 Carpenter and Guess, 96. 343 Murphy, 12-13. The Field Bill, passed by the California legislature in 1933, required that construction be designed to resist seismic distur- bances. Under the bill, brick and other veneer construction was per- mitted only if it conformed to strict standards.
94 In 1940, nine out of 10 windows featured wood window frames, with steel windows accounting for the second most popular window frame material. By 1950 wood was still the most dominate material, accounting for 69 percent of win- dows, but steel accounted for 22 percent of windows, and aluminum represented 5 percent. By 1955 wood was still the most popular choice at 57 percent, but aluminum accounted for 24 percent and steel had dropped to 16 percent. Also dur- ing this period, an increased number of window types became available. Double-hung and casement remained the two most popular styles, followed by horizontal slide, picture, awning, and jalousie windows (see Figure 105). The postwar trend toward aluminum is witnessed by the use of the horizontal slide, awning, and jalousie varieties.344 Asphalt shingles were the most common roof mate- rial nationwide. However, wood shingles and built-up roofs accounted for a large number of homes in the West, and tile roofs were also more common where they fit with the Spanish Colonial-influenced architectural styles. The built-up roof was best suited for flat or low-pitched roofs, which were more com- mon in areas with mild winters; however, built-up roofs were used in the Midwest. The Eastridge subdivision in Lincoln, Nebraska, utilized built-up roofs for the majority of homes, comprised of four layers of roofing felt sandwiched between asphalt and covered in crushed white rock to reflect the sun.345 b. Interior The homes of the early twentieth century, including pre- vious versions of the Colonial Revival style, distinguished between the public or communal areas and the private areas, specifically the bedrooms. The layout, referred to as two-zone, was designed for more formal use without much consideration for informal family recreation. The FHA small house and other homes constructed in the early postwar era, including the Min- imal Traditional form and Colonial Revival style, maintained a similar distinction between zones, with the bedrooms grouped together at the rear or on the second story (see Figure 106).346 This standard interior layout changed with the introduc- tion of the Ranch house, which utilized a three-zone layout that provided for private areas and informal and formal liv- ing areas (see Figure 107). The bedroom area did not change much from its architectural predecessors and was removed from the public areas by a hallway. The more public rooms, including the living room, were located at the front of the house, with the less formal rooms situated at the rear, adjacent to the backyard and rear patio, which served as an extension of the interior living space. The attached garage, which became a common feature in the postwar era, was seen as an extension of the informal living area, along with the outdoor yard and patio.347 See Section G.5 for more information on patios. The number of rooms in the postwar house decreased with the open planning concept, which resulted in reducing the number of interior walls to allow rooms to serve multiple functions and small homes to feel more spacious. According to Good Housekeeping magazine, this practice of multi- purposing rooms was attributed to âkeeping with our new-found love for easy, casual living.â348 The formal entry way was often elimi- nated in an attempt to add more living space to the floorplan, and in many cases, the living room became the primary point of entrance. Decorative shelving, planters, or interior screens provided a separation between the entrance and the overall living space.349 A great deal of thought went into the design and layout of postwar kitchens, believed to be the most important factor in the sale of a house. With the kitchen more than any other room, women were able to influence the purchase of a home. An effi- cient layout, ample light, and modern amenities and appli- ances, such as dishwashers and garbage disposals, were critical (see Figure 108).350 Overall, the planning and design took into consideration the three main kitchen activities: food storage and preparation, cooking and serving, and cleaning and dish Figure 105. Awning-style windows grouped to form a picture window on a Jekyll Island, Georgia, Ranch house (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). 344 Murphy, 6, 29. 345 Murphy, 6; Strauss Brothers, Eastridge, A Great Place to Live, n.p. 346 Rowe, 87. 347 Rowe, 89. 348 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 152. 349 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 158. 350 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 130-135.
95 Figure 106. Typical Minimal Traditional floorplan, not to scale (Mead & Hunt). Figure 107. Typical Ranch floorplan, not to scale (Mead & Hunt).
96 storage. Although floorplans differed, the layout of compo- nents was important. It was understood that storage and coun- ter space were essential, the sink should be placed between the refrigerator and the range, the refrigerator and pantry should be near the exterior door for easier unloading, and the range should be nearer to the dining room for easier serving.351 The formal dining room, a staple of the prewar house, was displaced in some postwar homes. The open planning con- cept and the general desire of housewives to feel less isolated in the kitchen often resulted in a combined living-kitchen space that included space for a dining table and chairs.352 One reason for the decline in dining rooms was the reevaluation of interior rooms and their usage in relation to allocating build- ing costs. As dining rooms were used less frequently with the more casual approach to day-to-day living, they were deemed unnecessary by many builders and home buyers.353 Where the dining room was still in keeping with the open planning con- cept, it was no longer a formal space and served other func- tions, such as a secondary living room. The postwar bathroom was also a modern selling point in a home. A 1950 article in House & Garden magazine stated âthere is more to a new bathroom than a tub, toilet, and lava- tory just as there is more to the kitchen than the range, refrig- erator, and sink.â354 Although it was still typically the smallest room in the house, several postwar innovations were expected to become standard, including in-wall hampers, fluorescent lighting, vanities with storage, heat lamps, and towel warm- ers. The concept of a second bath or powder room also gained popularity in the postwar period. Compartmental- ized baths were promoted as a way to add additional private bath space without the added expense of an additional room. Compartmentalized bath options included dressing rooms or toilets and showers separated from the sink and vanity. To increase capacity, double sinks and powder rooms were also recommended.355 Perhaps one of the most popular interior spaces to come out of the postwar era is the family room, which is still a pop- ular feature in twenty-first-century homes. Also known as the recreation (or ârecâ) room, den, or game room, the family room developed as middle-class families embraced the relaxed home atmosphere and family togetherness. Introduced in the 1950s, it became standard by the mid-1960s; an NAHB poll found that 70 percent of homes constructed in 1965 included a family room (or rec room).356 In the 1950s, during its early period of use and âexperimentation,â the family roomâs rela- tion to other established living areas varied from house to house. The early family rooms were multi-functional and served as a catch-all for family leisure and work activities. However, its function changed by the 1960s to focus more on leisure, and its location in the home became standardized. It moved from its early position next to the formal living room to a third zone of the house that was more isolated, typically separated from the living room by the kitchen or located in the basement.357 When discussing the difference between the family room and living room in a 1964 study, a woman from Boston, Massachusetts, mentioned that she liked âan active family room, and that is where the TV isâ as compared to a quiet living room for reading, knitting, and drinks.358 The utility room also developed during the postwar era, although it was more popular in areas without basements. It was often located adjacent to the kitchen so that it could be plumbed without adding significantly to overall plumb- ing costs. It housed the automatic clothes washing machine Figure 108. A Wisconsin homemaker poses in her c.1950 kitchen with modern conveniences, including a wall-mounted oven and television (photograph courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Image ID: 8406). 351 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 140-141. 352 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 202-204. 353 Kate Ellen Rogers, The Modern House, U.S.A. Its Design and Decora- tion (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), 147. 354 As quoted in Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolv- ing Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Con- sumer World 1945-1970, 143. 355 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 144-145. 356 Jacobs, âSocial and Spatial Changes in the Postwar Family Room,â 70. 357 Jacobs, âSocial and Spatial Changes in the Postwar Family Room,â 71-78. 358 Gilbert, 164; Jacobs, âSocial and Spatial Change in the Postwar Family Room,â 73.
97 and dryer, furnace, and water heater. In some cases it had an exterior entrance open to the backyard, allowing the room to function as a mud room as well.359 The need for basements was debated during the postwar period, with the largest âdetractionâ being the increased costs resulting from excavation, building materials and labor. The concrete floor slab on grade was less expensive because it required less construction time and eliminated the possibility of weather delays when the ground could not be dugout. Some estimates reduced the cost of a home by 10 percent through the elimination of the basement. The introduction of the util- ity room on the main floor lessened the need for basement space. Basement proponents argued that the space was the most cost-effective way to expand the house and was an ideal location for a family room, workshop, or integrated garage. Although banks and marketing advisors warned builders that floor slabs on grade would not be popular, they sold quickly in most areas.360 Regional differences in climate and geography also affected the use of basements, which were popular in the Midwest, where an insulated sub-level helped warm the living space above, and rare in the South and on the West Coast. Interior layout evolved with the architectural styles and forms in the 1960s and the rise of zoned spaces as exempli- fied by the Split-levelâs popularity; however, some things remained consistent. The bedroom configuration remained very much the same, with a âsuiteâ or grouping of rooms around a hallway. The average number of bathrooms also increased in the postwar house.361 Home layout continued to evolve into the 1970s as a result of the reduced number of children as the baby boom sub- sided and changing roles of family members, including the increased number of women working outside the home. During this period the change in the master bedroom was the most noticeable. The room, also referred to as a suite, evolved into a much larger space that included increased ceiling heights and specialized windows, private patios or decks, and spacious closets. Separate bathrooms were a popular feature, and in some cases, the bathrooms included customized tubs, whirlpools, and showers. The size of the master suite also grew in comparison to other bedrooms in the postwar house.362 2. Use of Plan Services and Architects During the postwar construction boom, individuals who wanted to construct a house outside a planned subdivision had the option of using an already prepared plan or hiring an architect to develop plans. They would then work with the architect and contractor during the actual construc- tion process. In much the same way, developers and build- ers could rely on stock plans or hire an architect. Although the FHA provided minimum design standards and examples of acceptable floorplans, they did not intend to create stock plans for general use. Rather, they encouraged builders to retain an architect to develop plans that were appropriate for the specific location and climate.363 Popular Mechanics maga- zine and other publications of the period also urged prospec- tive home builders to work with a professional architect and experienced contractor to complete the job.364 Although the use of architects was highly encouraged, it appears that only a small number of homes were built with architect-designed plans. According to FHA estimates, no more than 5 to 10 percent of privately built, single-family homes were designed or supervised by architects in 1949. However, it appears that their role increased in the 1950s. At that time, a survey of NAHB members revealed that 27 per- cent had hired a registered architect for a fee while 46 percent had hired a design professional. Only 7.2 percent of builders had an architect on staff, and 6 percent used a plan service.365 Few merchant builders retained architects to draw up plans. Rather, they typically relied on draftsmen or building designers whose role in the process was to get the builderâs concepts into a form suitable for bidding and construction. These designers were often familiar with the FHA require- ments, site conditions, and local codes.366 If builders did not have in-house draftsmen or designers, they could purchase plans from a plan service or consult plan books, often writ- ten by architects.367 Edward Hawkins is an example of a mer- chant builder who completed design work for his Arapahoe Acres subdivision in Englewood, Colorado. Although archi- tect Eugene Sternberg was responsible for approximately 20 homes in the subdivision, Hawkins completed the major- ity of the design work himself and was eventually aided by an architect.368 The influence of architects can be seen in a range of gener- ally upscale residential subdivisions. Noted architect Charles Goodman worked with different builders in the Washington, D.C., area to design Contemporary style homes for several 359 Wright, 255. 360 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 163-164; Eichler 67-68. 361 Rowe, 89-90. 362 Rowe, 91. 363 United States Federal Housing Administration, Principles of Plan- ning Small Houses (1936), 2. 364 Carpenter and Guess, 57-59. 365 Christopher T. Martin, Tract-House Modern: A Study of Housing Design and Consumption in the Washington Suburbs, 1946-1960 (PhD Dissertation, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, George Wash- ington University, 2000), 113. 366 Eichler, 86. 367 Martin, 112. 368 Tomasso, 7-2.
98 subdivisions during the 1950s and 1960s (see Figure 109).369 Eichler Homes was one of the few merchant builders to use architects on a regular basis. Between 1950 and 1974, Joseph Eichler partnered with some of the most progressive and well respected architects and architectural firms to build more than 11,000 modernist Eichler Homes (see Figure 110). His architectural partners included Anshen and Allen, A. Quincy Jones, Claude Oakland, and Raphael Soriano.370 Other mer- chant builders who relied on architects include the Strauss Brothers of Lincoln, Nebraska, who retained the local firm of John and George Unthank, Architects, to develop a series of residential designs for their Eastridge subdivision in the mid- 1950s (see Figure 111).371 In 1949 the NAHB and the AIA formed a joint commit- tee to encourage collaboration between architects and build- ers. It came to be referred to as the AIA Committee on the Home-Building Industry. Their goal was to âpromote utiliza- tion of architectural services by merchant builders, and to collaborate with associations in the home-building field.â372 One of the first activities was a national design competition, co-sponsored by the NAHB and Architectural Forum maga- zine, with additional support from supply manufacturers. The purpose of the competition was to âbring better design to the small house, including better use of space and materi- als.â Entrants were to design a three-bedroom house no larger than 1,000 ft2 that met FHA and VA requirements and con- formed to a 60-by-100-ft lot. Winning plans were published in national builder magazines, including American Builder, Practical Builder, and Builder.373 Although the AIA Committee on the Home-Building Industry worked to foster collaboration efforts, progress nationwide was slow. In 1956 House & Home magazine reported that there were less than 100 architectural firms working directly with speculative builders. Those architects that were working with builders tended to be modernists who were relatively young when they began the collabora- tive efforts. This disparity between younger modernists and older established architects may have been related to finances, as builders preferred to work with less experienced archi- tects with lower fees than more experienced architects with higher fees.374 369 A number of subdivisions with Goodman homes have been listed in or identified as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, including Hammond Wood, Rock Creek Woods, and Hollin Hills. 370 Eichler, 86; Martin, 138; California Department of Transportation, 114-115. 371 Strauss Brothers, Thereâs a New Trend in Lincoln, n.p. 372 Martin, 123-124. 373 Martin, 126. 374 Martin, 137-138. Figure 110. Eichler-built house in Orange County, California, c.1958 (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 109. Goodman-designed Contemporary style house in the Rock Creek Woods Subdivision in Montgomery County, Maryland, that was developed between 1958 and 1961 (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 111. Details regarding project architects in the c.1954 Eastridge promotional booklet (Strauss Brothers, Thereâs a New Trend in Lincoln).
99 3. Popular Architectural Styles and Forms of the Period A variety of architectural forms and styles were utilized for residential construction in the postwar era. In some cases the house is defined by its form alone and in other cases it is bet- ter described and classified by the style applied to the form. In this report the term âformâ refers to the overall house type as defined by its massing, layout, and shape, while the term âstyleâ refers to the decorative details and materials that are applied to exemplify a particular architectural style. Popular forms of the postwar era include Minimal Traditional, Ranch, Split-level, and others. These forms may or may not include the applica- tion of stylistic details. Styles applied to various postwar houses include Colonial Revival and Contemporary styles that were applied to one or more of the defined postwar forms. This section discusses the origin and character-defining features of popular architectural forms followed by a discus- sion of the origin of architectural styles and related features as applied to houses during the period. In general, the dis- cussion of forms and styles addresses postwar residences and influences at the national level. Well-known regional varia- tions are presented; however, many more local and regional variations could be defined as preferences in forms, styles, and building materials varied from one part of the country to another. Prefabricated housing from the period is also pre- sented with an overview of nationally known prefabricators and the characteristics of their house forms. a. Postwar Architectural Forms Minimal Traditional Form. The Minimal Traditional form was developed in the years of the Great Depression and early 1940s as a low-cost alternative to the larger and deco- rative house of the 1920s that often displayed influences of the Period Revival style. In the 1940s the FHA developed a standardized compact plan for a small, single-family house that embodied the major elements of the Minimal Tradi- tional form. As a result, it is sometimes referred to as an FHA house. It is also referred to as the Postwar Minimal, Minimal Modern, Cottage-Style, and âGI house,â due to its popularity in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Its affordability made it the ideal form to meet the postwar housing demand; it was a frequent choice of large tract developers and was con- structed in large numbers throughout the country. By eliminating ornamentation and historical reference, the Minimal Traditional reduced the small house of the earlier twentieth century to its most basic massing. The salient char- acteristics of this house form are its small size, rarely exceeding 1,000 ft2, and lack of exterior ornamentation or stylistic treat- ment. According to the FHA publication Principles of Planning Small Houses, âsimplicity of exterior design gives the small house the appearance of maximum size.â375 Minimal Tradi- tional houses are generally one or one-and-one-half stories, with a rectangular or L-shape plan, asymmetrical fenestra- tion, and a small inset entrance. If present, the upper story was often left unfinished for future expansion by the homeowner. Windows are typically wood or steel frame, double-hung or casement varieties, and front facades often feature a picture window. Roofs are moderately pitched, generally gable or hip in form, with shallow eaves that are tight to the gable walls. Exterior cladding includes clapboard, board and batten, and shingle siding, although steel siding is found on later examples of the style. Brick was less common as it was a more expensive building material, but may have been used on the facade or as an accent. Garages are generally detached, although some examples include a garage or carport at the side elevation. Regional variations include the use of stucco cladding, common in the Southwest and California, sometimes in con- junction with wood or brick veneer. Structural concrete block was also used in the western part of the country. Minimal Traditional houses may also feature limited applied architec- tural styling, such as Colonial Revival treatments. Figures 112 to 114 present examples of the Minimal Traditional form. The character-defining features of the Minimal Traditional form include: â¢ Rectangular or L-shape plan; â¢ Compact size; â¢ One or one-and-one-half stories; 375 United States Federal Housing Administration, Principles of Plan- ning Small Houses (1936), 37. Figure 112. Minimal Traditional house in Madison, Wisconsin, constructed c.1945, with wood siding, compact one-story plan, minimal eave overhang, inset entrance, attached one-car garage, and modest Colonial Revival details, including gable end returns and cornice boards (Mead & Hunt photograph).
100 Rectangular in plan and boxy in appearance, the Cape Cod house is generally a one-and-one-half-story building with a steeply pitched side gable roof. Much like the Minimal Traditional form, the second story was frequently left as an unfinished space so that the house could be expanded later. A centrally placed main entrance with a stoop is flanked by symmetrically arranged windows on the front facade. Win- dows are typically wood, six-over-six or eight-over-eight, double-hung sash, although other configurations were also used. The front slope of the gable roof is often punctuated with symmetrically arranged dormers. Cladding is typically wood shingle or clapboard, although brick versions were con- structed. If present, garages are detached and often connected to the house by a covered walkway rather than attached to the house itself, or attached as a later addition. The term Cape Cod is loosely applied to one-and-one- half-story homes during the postwar period, regardless of the architectural features.376 The form was very popular in the Northeast, Midwest, and Tidewater regions, and appears less frequently in the western U.S.377 Like the Minimal Tra- ditional house form described above, Cape Cod houses may also be found with limited applied architectural styling, such as Colonial Revival treatments. Figures 115 to 118 present Cape Cod examples. Character-defining features of the form include: â¢ Rectangular plan and one-and-one-half-story massing; â¢ Symmetrical faÃ§ade; â¢ Side gable roof with dormers; and â¢ Double-hung windows. Two-story Massed Form. This architectural form fea- tures a second story and a rectangular plan that is more than one-room deep. Some postwar versions of this form exhibit exaggerated horizontal massing with the rectangular house form extended by the addition of an attached one-story sun- room or garage on the side elevation. However, detached garages are also common, especially with early examples of the form. During the postwar period, this spatial organization was most frequently seen in association with the Colonial Revival architectural style (discussed in more detail herein). While the postwar Colonial Revival style utilized the rectangular plan, two-story massing, symmetrical fenestration, and side gable orientation of its predecessors, the Two-story Massed form is a more informal interpretation when compared to the Colonial Revival style of the early twentieth century. Figures 119 and 120 present examples of the Two-story Massed form. Figure 114. Minimal Traditional house in Lakewood, California, constructed c.1950, with side gable roof, stucco and vertical wood siding, inset entrance, minimal eave overhang, and attached one-car garage (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 113. Minimal Traditional house in Gothenburg, Nebraska, constructed c.1945, with a compact one-story plan, asbestos shingle siding, double-hung windows, and simple portico (Mead & Hunt photograph). â¢ Low to moderate gable or hip roof with shallow eaves; â¢ Lack of exterior ornamentation; â¢ Picture, double-hung, and casement windows; and â¢ Small inset entrance or exterior stoop. Cape Cod Form. The most common variation within the Minimal Traditional form is the Cape Cod house, built by the thousands by merchant builders, such as Levitt and Sons. In the postwar period, the Cape Cod house was conceived as a loose adaptation of the original Massachusetts vernacular cottages of the eighteenth century and the historicist Period Revival Cape Cod of the 1920s and 1930s. Stripped of detail, the mass-produced, postwar Cape Cod relied on its massing and organization, rather than decorative detail or craftsman- ship, to convey its architectural form. 376 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 171. 377 California Department of Transportation, 68-70.
101 Figure 116. Cape Cod houses in Arlington County, Virginia, constructed c.1950, with one-and-one-half- story massing, symmetrical facades, central entrances with pedimented stoops, and steeply pitched side gable roofs with dormers and double-hung windows (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 115. Cape Cod house in Arlington County, Virginia, constructed c.1950, with one-and-one-half- story massing, side gable roof with twin dormers, stone veneer, and sun porch (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 117. Cape Cod house in Fairfax County, Virginia, with one-and-one-half-story massing, side gable roof with twin dormers, and canted front picture window (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration). Figure 119. Two-story Massed house in Arlington, County, Virginia, featuring a rectangular plan, two- story massing, and side gable roof (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 118. Cape Cod house in Prince Georgeâs County, Maryland, with one-and-one-half-story massing, side gable roof, and double-hung windows. The house was constructed by Levitt and Sons in the Belair Subdivision in the early 1960s (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration). Figure 120. Two-story Massed house in Madison, Wisconsin, constructed in 1959, featuring a rectangular plan, two-story massing, and side gable roof (Mead & Hunt photograph).
102 Character-defining features of the Two-story Massed form include: â¢ Rectangular plan and two-story massing and â¢ Side gable or hip roof. Transitional Ranch Form. The Transitional Ranch, as its name implies, is the intermediate house form between the postwar Minimal Traditional house and the fully established Ranch house of the mid-1950s. It was also referred to as the Compact Ranch, Tract Ranch, and Linear Ranch house. Due to its small size, it was inexpensive and built in large numbers throughout the country. The Transitional Ranch house generally shares the com- pact floor plan and spatial organization of the Minimal Tra- ditional house. However, in external appearance it displays the one-story, horizontal massing of the Ranch form, with a shallow roof pitch and overhanging eaves. Picture, double- hung, and casement window openings are asymmetrically arranged. Although corner windows are popular, they are not universal. Main entrances are generally simple with a small recessed porch or stoop. Attached garages and carports are common, as are detached garages. Similar to other popular forms of the period, clapboard, stone and brick veneer, and stucco were popular cladding materials. Figures 121 to 123 present examples of the Transitional Ranch. Character-defining features of this subtype include: â¢ One-story horizontal massing; â¢ Compact size; â¢ Asymmetrical fenestration; â¢ Low-pitched roof with wide eave overhang; â¢ Picture, double-hung, and casement windows; â¢ Combination of siding materials; and â¢ Attached carport or garage. Ranch Form. The Ranch form represented a new concept of simplicity for an unpretentious postwar American single family, living a more casual and relaxed lifestyle. The under- lying aesthetic fit with the ârise in informalityâ and âsense of optimismâ that were predominant attitudes in the 1950s.378 The Ranch form quickly replaced previous forms and styles, and by 1950 it had become the most popular housing type of the postwar era, accounting for nine out of 10 new homes built.379 Although it was widely utilized across the country, regional stylistic variations can be attributed to climate, avail- able building materials, and local preference. Figure 122. Transitional Ranch in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, constructed c.1950, with compact massing, corner windows, low-pitched roof with a wide eave overhang, and attached garage at the rear (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 121. Transitional Ranch in San Lorenzo, California, with compact massing, integrated garage, and recessed entrance. The house was constructed by merchant builder Dave Bohannon c.1950 (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 123. Transitional Ranch homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, constructed c.1950, exhibiting horizontal massing, compact floor plans, and picture windows and accent veneer on the facades (Mead & Hunt photograph). 378 Rowe, 99. 379 Witold Rybczynski, âThe Ranch House Anomalyâ Slate Magazine 17 April 2007 http://www.slate.com/id/2163970/ (accessed 18 March 2011).
103 Also referred to as a Rambler or California Ranch, the Ranch form had its origins on the west coast in the 1930s work of California architects. It was loosely based on the low, rambling courtyards of Spanish Colonial Ranch houses found in California and modified by influences borrowed from the Craftsman and Prairie styles. California native Cliff May is generally regarded as the founder of the Ranch form. Inspired by the traditional U-shaped hacienda, May designed a one- story Ranch house in 1931 that displayed Spanish Colonial Revival architectural details and incorporated a garage into the primary facade. Between 1931 and 1937, May constructed more than 50 similar designs and went on to refine and expand these models in the following decade. Mayâs work, along with other architects of the period, brought attention to the Ranch form, and it quickly became popular across the country.380 Figure 124 shows a May-designed house. The Ranch form segregates domestic functions into archi- tecturally separate areas or âzones,â with the private bed- rooms and bathroom separated from the public living room and kitchen. This zoned floor plan contributes to the exterior appearance of the Ranch form as elongated and rambling. The public zones of the houseâthe kitchen and living roomâare also integrated with the outdoors, generally through the use of large windows and sliding glass doors, and the âintermedi- ateâ spaces of patios or courtyards. This outdoor emphasis is further heightened by the incorporation of built-in planter boxes on both front facades and rear elevations. Ranch houses are one-story with a strong horizontal emphasis and long eave wall elevation that is often oriented to the street. Roofs are low-pitched gable or hip forms with wide eave overhangs. Decorative cutouts may be included in the eave overhang. The fenestration is asymmetrical and a variety of window types are employed, including double- hung, casement, awning, jalousie, and fixed, with wood, steel, and aluminum frames and corner windows common. Picture windows often dominate the facade and, in some cases, several awning-style windows are grouped to form one large window expanse. For increased privacy and easier furniture placement, bedrooms often feature bands of rectangular ribbon awning- style windows located on the upper part of the wall. Common cladding materials include clapboard, board and batten, brick and stone veneer, faux stone veneer, and aluminum and steel siding. It is common for multiple siding materials to be used on a single house, often with a veneer treatment used to accent the facade. Front entrances are often recessed and enhanced with built-in planter boxes and decorative wrought iron or wood supports. Colonnaded porches that extend across the facade are common and recall the âcorredorsâ of nineteenth- century Californian and Mexican Ranch house antecedents. Concrete screens may be used to define areas of the property or create privacy near the entrance or patio. Prominent brick or stone slab-like chimneys are common. Garages or car- ports are generally attached and a prominent part of the front facade, sometimes projecting into the driveway. Figures 125 to 130 present examples of the Ranch form. The character-defining features of the Ranch form include: â¢ One-story horizontal massing; â¢ Low-pitched roof with deep eave overhangs or a promi- nent roofline with âprowedâ eaves, roof cutouts, or exposed beams; â¢ Asymmetrical fenestration and large expanses of windows, picture windows, corner windows, bands of windows, or clerestory windows; â¢ Combination of siding materials, including accent veneer; â¢ Wide or prominent chimneys; â¢ Planters and patios, often with sliding glass doors; â¢ Colonnaded porches along the faÃ§ade; â¢ Wrought iron or wood accents; â¢ Integrated wingwalls; and â¢ Attached garages, carports, and breezeways. The Ranch form evolved into several subtypes (discussed herein) with regional stylistic variations, but all share the fundamental characteristic features of low horizontal mass- ing, asymmetrical arrangements of doors and windows, and attached garages or carports. A variety of architectural styles may be applied to the Ranch form, including Storybook, Modern, Asiatic, Colonial Revival, and Spanish Colonial Figure 124. Cliff May-designed house in La Mesa, California, constructed in 1953 (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). 380 California Department of Transportation, 71-73; New South Associ- ates, The Ranch House in Georgia, Guidelines for Evaluation (Prepared for the Georgia Department of Transportation, 2010), 10-11. Like the California Bungalow, which influenced its design and aesthetic, the Ranch house is found in both custom-designed versions and the mass- produced examples that predominate in urban areas and subdivisions. The custom-designed examples are often distinguished by their larger size and placement on large lots.
104 Figure 126. Ranch house in Sparta, Wisconsin, constructed c.1960, with horizontal massing, hip roof, stone veneer, casement windows, wrought iron supports at the entrance, prominent chimney, and attached garage. It is oriented diagonally on a large urban lot (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 125. Ranch house in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1955, with horizontal massing, hip roof, clapboard and stone veneer, picture and double- hung windows, and attached breezeway and garage (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 127. Ranch house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, constructed c.1960, with horizontal massing, gable roof, stone veneer, accent wood shingles, picture and ribbon windows, prominent chimney, and wrought iron supports at the entrance (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 128. Ranch house in El Paso, Texas, constructed c.1960, with horizontal massing, hip roof, picture windows, glass block windows at the entrance, minimal wrought iron details, and carport (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 130. Ranch house in De Kalb County, Georgia, constructed c.1955, with horizontal massing, hip roof, accent stone veneer, breezeway, and concrete screening at the carport (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). Figure 129. Ranch house in Richmond Heights, Missouri, with horizontal massing, hip roof, integrated stone planters, prominent stone chimney, and wrought iron supports at the entrance (photograph courtesy of Toni Prawl, Missouri Department of Transportation).
105 Revival. The various evolutions and subtypes of the Ranch form are discussed in the following sections. Raised Ranch Form. The Raised Ranch is a typical Ranch form with an elevated or partially elevated basement story. The exposed portion of the basement could be on the front or side, allowing for an integrated garage. In other cases the rear elevation was exposed, allowing for a walk-out basement patio or recreational area. The main floor may include a bal- cony or deck. The form lent itself to areas with hilly topogra- phy and is found more frequently in the Northeast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain states where basements are common. The house type is less frequently found in California and the Southwest, where slab foundations are more common. The interior space of the Raised Ranch utilizes the same interior zoning principles as other examples of the Ranch form with the bedrooms and baths segregated from the pub- lic spaces. However, the family living functions are typically placed on one level. The character-defining features of the Raised Ranch are similar to those of the Ranch house, with the exception of the partially exposed basement and elevated main entrance, typically accessed by stairs from the front walk or driveway. Figures 131 to 133 show examples of the Raised Ranch form. Additional character-defining features of this subtype include: â¢ Partially exposed basement level; and â¢ Integrated garage and/or patio at basement level. Split-level and Split-foyer Form. Although the general Split-level concept was introduced prior to World War II, the architectural form did not gain popularity until the mid- 1950s. At that time, it became one of the most common house forms nationwide. In a 1957 Washington Post article, the Split-level was described as âtypically American as base- ball . . . from its handsome exterior to its neat and smartly designed interior [this] is the house that America wantsâ plus built-in modish good looks and real comfort for living in the American way.â381 Along with its close cousin the Split-foyer, the Split-level was an extension and refinement of the Ranch houseâs pio- neering segregation of public and private space into âzonesâ or separate wings. Unlike the Raised Ranch, which includes basement-level living space, the Split-level separates private and public living spaces from each other with the family room and garage located at the lowest level; kitchen, din- ing, and living areas on the mid-level; and the more private Figure 133. Raised Ranch house in Richmond Heights, Missouri, with the exposed basement at the side elevation, accent stone veneer, and planters (photograph courtesy of Toni Prawl, Missouri Department of Transportation). Figure 132. Raised Ranch in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1955, with a partially exposed basement, integrated garage, picture and double- hung windows, overhanging eaves, and wrought iron details at the entrance (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 131. Raised Ranch in Madison, Wisconsin, constructed c.1960, with a partially exposed basement, integrated garage, picture window, overhanging eaves, wide chimney, and accent brick veneer (Mead & Hunt photograph). 381 As quoted in Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolv- ing Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Con- sumer World 1945-1970, 185-186.
106 bedrooms and baths on the upper level (see Figure 134). The massing is often a two-story unit connected to a one-story section at mid-height. As a result, the term Tri-level is also used to describe the form. The varying height of the Split-level architectural form often resulted in separate roofs for each section of the house, which ranged from one to two stories. Roofs are usually hip or gable, or a combination of the two, with wide eave overhangs. Windows are similar to those in Ranch houses, with double- hung, casement, and picture windows commonly used. Clad- ding materials, including clapboard, stone and brick veneer, and steel and aluminum siding, are often combined to pro- vide visual interest. Garages are commonly attached and integrated into the lower level. As with the Ranch form, the Split-level form often features applied architectural treat- ments, including Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Contemporary stylistic features. Figures 136 to 138 pre- sent examples of the Split-level form. In the Split-foyer version, a central mid-level entry exhibits a split stair, with one staircase going to an upper level and one to a lower level, thus creating three separate levels on the interior: the entry level and two levels with living space (see Figure 135). Due to the less complex massing, the Split-foyer version often has a single roofline. With the exception of the roofline, the form is almost identical to the Split-level and it displays similar windows, cladding materials, integrated garages, and architectural treatments. The term Bi-level is also used to describe the form. Figures 139 and 140 present examples of the Split-foyer form. The Split-level and Split-foyer forms produced a house with more square footage, more bedrooms and bathrooms, and a more spacious appearance due to its sloped ceilings. Figure 134. Typical Split-level floorplan, not to scale (Mead & Hunt).
107 However, the multi-floor plan resulted in more compact massing than the Ranch, and the forms were more economical as land for development was increasing in cost.382 Much like the Raised Ranch form, they were ideally suited for uneven and sloping building sites. Split-levels and Split-foyers gained popularity in the Northeast and Midwest in the mid-1950s and were widely distributed. They were less accepted in the Southwest and West. The architectural form began to fall out of favor nationally as the two-story form returned to favor for larger homes. Character-defining features of the Split-level and Split- foyer forms include the following: â¢ A combination of one- and two-story wings (Split-level only); â¢ Varied roof height, corresponding to differing interior levels (Split-level only); Figure 135. Typical Split-foyer floorplan, not to scale (Mead & Hunt). 382 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 187, 192.
108 â¢ Integrated garage; â¢ Low-pitched roof with deep eave overhangs or a promi- nent roofline with âprowedâ eaves, roof cutouts, or exposed beams; â¢ Large expanses of windows, corner windows, bands of windows, or clerestory windows; â¢ Combination of siding materials, including accent veneer; â¢ Wide or prominent chimneys; â¢ Prominent front entrances that may include twin doors, transoms, decorative lighting, or an exaggerated height; â¢ Planters; and â¢ Wrought iron or wood accents. b. Postwar Architectural Styles Colonial Revival Style. In the postwar period the Colo- nial Revival style was one of the most widespread residential Figure 136. Split-level house in San Diego, California, constructed c.1968, with clearly zoned wings on different levels opening off the centrally located entry, casement windows, and an integrated garage (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 138. Split-level house in Baltimore County, Maryland, with an elevated entry, brick veneer, and picture window (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration). Figure 137. Split-level house in Hennepin County, Minnesota, constructed c.1965, with an elevated entry, integrated garage, slab chimney, and multi- light picture window (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 140. Split-foyer house in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1965, with a central exaggerated- height entrance, two levels of living space, accent brick veneer, and an integrated basement-level garage (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 139. Split-foyer house in Arlington County, Virginia, constructed in 1964, with a central exaggerated-height entrance and two levels of living space (Mead & Hunt photograph).
109 styles found throughout the country, but especially on the eastern seaboard, in the Midwest, and in the South. It was most popular in the early postwar period, but continued to be constructed nationally throughout the postwar period. The postwar Colonial Revival residential style had its imme- diate antecedents in the Colonial Revival style of the 1920s and 1930s, and is sometimes referred to as Neo-Colonial to distinguish it from its 1920s predecessor. The postwar version of the style displays more restrained details than its early twentieth century predecessor, including freely interpreted entrances, door surrounds, sidelights, and cornices, as well as modern design details such as wide over- hanging eaves. Symmetrical arrangement of the front facade is less closely observed in postwar examples, with main entrances often located off-center and dominated by large picture win- dows. The entrance doors generally have simple surroundings and lack porches, although some examples feature a small por- tico. The more traditional second story overhang, also referred to as a garrison, is incorporated into some designs. Multi-light double-hung and fixed windows are common. Elements of the Colonial Revival style were often applied to postwar architectural forms, including Minimal Tradi- tional, Cape Cod, Two-story Massed, Ranch, Split-level, and Split-foyer. Figures 141 to 144 show examples of the Colonial Revival style. The character-defining features of the style include: â¢ Multi-light windows and compass windows in the gable end; â¢ Decorative window surrounds and faux louvered shutters; and â¢ Architectural details, including sidelights, fanlights, sim- plified porticos with turned columns, pediments, frieze or cornice boards, quoins, cupolas, and flat or jack arches. Figure 141. Two-story Massed house in Worthington Hills, Ohio, constructed c.1966, exhibits Colonial Revival style details, including symmetrical fenestration, wide overhanging eaves, faux shutters, compass windows, and simple porch across the facade (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 143. Ranch house in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1960, with Colonial Revival architectural details, including multi-light windows with faux shutters and pilasters (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 142. Ranch house in Arlington, Texas, constructed in 1966, displays elements of the Colonial Revival style, including symmetrical massing and wide porch with turned columns (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 144. Ranch house in Fort Valley, Georgia, constructed c.1960, with Colonial Revival architectural details, including multi-light windows with faux shutters and an entrance stoop with decorative columns and dentils (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division).
110 Georgian Revival Style. The Georgian variation of the postwar Colonial Revival style is based on the Georgian house of the mid-to-late eighteenth century and its twentieth- century revival in the 1910s-1930s. Although not as popular as the Colonial Revival style, it was commonly constructed in the East between the 1950s and 1980s. The postwar Georgian Revival style house is distinguished by a greater degree of formality and a more rigorous adher- ence to symmetrical elevations. However, postwar Georgian architectural elements are freely interpreted rather than his- torically accurate. Main entrances often feature pilasters and pediments, windows are ornamented with faux shutters, and decorative quoins are employed at the corners. Paneled doors with sidelights are a common feature and some examples have central or full porches with colonnades. Side gable and hip roofs are often more steeply pitched than the postwar Colo- nial Revival style and frequently punctuated with dormers. The Georgian Revival style was most frequently applied to the postwar Two-story Massed architectural form. Figure 145 presents an example of the Georgian Revival style. Character-defining features of the style include: â¢ Symmetrical front faÃ§ade; â¢ Central entrance with sidelights; â¢ Colonnaded porch or portico; â¢ Decorative window surrounds and faux louvered shutters; and â¢ Architectural details, such as pilasters, quoins, and pediments. Storybook Style. The Storybook style, popular for a brief period in the mid-to-late 1950s and most commonly applied to the Ranch form, is also referred to as the âCinderella Ranchâ or âChalet,â and âDisneylandâ in Southern California. Although it retains the typical Ranch house form in its horizontal massing and low profile, the most distinguishing feature is the deco- rative detail. In addition to the character-defining features of the Ranch form, it typically displays fanciful embellishments loosely drawn from the earlier Period Revival styles of the 1920s and 1930s, such as scalloped bargeboards, sweeping gables that extend to the ground, diamond-pane windows, and decora- tive leaded and stained glass windows. Exterior materials are often textured, such as board and batten or shingle siding.383 Figures 146 to 148 show examples of the Storybook style. Architectural details of the Storybook style include: â¢ Fanciful architectural details; â¢ Scalloped or shaped bargeboards; â¢ Sweeping gables; â¢ Diamond-pane and decorative leaded and stained glass windows; â¢ Decorative window trim and shutters; and â¢ Planter boxes or shelves below the windows. Spanish Colonial Revival Style. Although popular prior to the postwar period, the Spanish Colonial Revival style was often applied to postwar architectural forms. Also referred to as Spanish Contemporary or Spanish Eclectic, it was commonly used in Texas, the Southwest, and California, but regional variations may be found throughout the coun- try. Exterior wall materials include adobe, adobe-type brick, or stucco, and decorative elements draw on the traditions of Southwest frontier and Spanish Colonial architecture, includ- ing tile roofs.384 In desert areas, the roofs may be character- ized by a low, broadside gable sheathed in built-up roofing intended to insulate and reflect the desert heat.385 Although attached carports are frequent in areas with mild climates, attached garages are also common. Figures 149 and 150 pre- sent examples of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Architectural details of the Spanish Colonial Revival style include the following: â¢ Adobe, abode-type brick, or stucco exterior; â¢ Red tile or built-up roofs; â¢ Arched entrances and windows; and â¢ Decorative wrought iron details. Asiatic Style. The Asiatic style, sometimes referred to as the Polynesian or Tiki Style, features Japanese, Chinese, or Polynesian roof lines and decorative embellishments. It was applied to popular forms of the postwar period, including the Figure 145. Georgian Revival house in Arlington County, Virginia, with symmetrical front facade, portico, and brick quoins (Mead & Hunt photograph). 383 California Department of Transportation, 86. 384 True adobe construction is rare, especially in the postwar period. 385 Akros, Inc., et al., Tucson Post World War II Residential Subdivision Development, 1945-1973 (Prepared for the City of Tucson, Arizona, 2007), 46-47.
111 Ranch and Split-level form. The popularity of the style may be due in part to House Beautiful magazine; their September 1960 issue had an article titled âHow Americans are Using Japanese Ideas,â which included exterior details used by mer- chant builders in residential subdivisions.386 Although most popular in California and the Pacific North- west, examples are found throughout the country. The most prominent element of the style is the gable-on-hip roof with projecting ridge beams, which exhibits shaped ends and upward- pitched eaves that suggest the roof lines of Asiatic temples. Red tile roof cladding was not unusual and red or persimmon double entry doors are common. Windows may be embellished with decorative Shoji screen inserts.387 Asian-theme hardware Figure 150. Spanish Colonial Revival style applied to the Split-level form in La Mesa, California, constructed c.1970, with stucco exterior and tile roof (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 149. Spanish Colonial Revival style applied to the Ranch form in El Paso, Texas. Constructed c.1950, this house features true adobe construction, red tile roof, and decorative wrought iron details (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 147. This house in Madison, Wisconsin, constructed c.1970, displays the Ranch form and has Storybook features, including diamond-pane windows and decorative shutters and window boxes (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 146. This house in San Diego, California, constructed c.1957, displays the Ranch form and Storybook features, including scalloped barge boards, diamond-pane windows, decorative shutters and planter boxes, and a sweeping gable (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 148. This house in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1960, features the Ranch form and sweeping gables. It is locally referred to as a Chalet Ranch (Mead & Hunt photograph). 386 California Department of Transportation, 87-88. 387 ICF Jones & Stokes, Cultural Resources of the Recent Past, City of Pasadena, National Register Multiple Property Document, E-11.
112 in the form of door handles, decorative medallions, and gates were often employed. The overall Asian theme of the house may be enhanced by Japanese-inspired landscaping. Figures 151 and 152 show examples of the Asiatic style. Architectural details of the Asiatic style include the following: â¢ Exaggerated eaves and upturned corner or gable end roofs, often executed in red tile; â¢ Vertical wood latticework, or Shoji decorative screen work; â¢ Vertical wood to divide the facade into panels; â¢ Red or persimmon front entrances; and â¢ Asian-inspired exterior hardware. Contemporary Style. The Contemporary style was dis- tinctive in the postwar period and its characteristic architec- tural features were applied to various postwar housing forms. Terms such as Mid-century Modern, Modern, and Post and Beam are also used to describe houses of this period that break from the past and reflect current design trends (and are some- times used interchangeably with the term Contemporary).388 The various uses of different stylistic classifications may be due to regional acceptance of one term over another or the distinction of a subcategory within the larger context of Con- temporary architecture. For example, Post and Beam style refers to the post and beam construction method, which is a departure from the typical method of load-bearing wall con- struction, resulting in larger open spaces and more expansive use of glass. Modern is also often described as a style distinct from Contemporary. Residences in the âtrueâ Modern style are almost always architect designed and therefore not characteris- tic of the ubiquitous postwar property types that are the focus of this study. As a result, a distinct Modern style is not defined. Contemporary style houses were often custom-built and designed by architects. The features of the style have its ori- gins in the residential work of Frank Lloyd Wright, particu- larly his pioneering Usonian houses of the 1930s through early 1950s, and were also influenced by Bauhaus architects of the Modern movement. Although the Contemporary style was applied to individual residences across the country, it was successfully mass produced in some regional applica- tions. Due to the scale of application of the Contemporary style to postwar houses, its inclusion in this report is justified. Two examples of large volume merchant builders of Contem- porary style architecture are Joseph Eichler, who developed such housing primarily in northern California, and Edward Hawkins in his Arapahoe Acres development in Englewood, Colorado. The Contemporary style was most popular in the 1950s; however, this style never achieved mainstream popu- larity as it was seen as somewhat dated by the 1960s.389 The Contemporary style house is organized with an open floor plan, achieved in some cases through the use of post and beam construction. Roofs are characteristically flat or gabled, and frequently clad with asbestos or composition shingles, although some examples utilize built-up roofs. Both roof types frequently exhibit wide overhanging boxed eaves or a wide fascia at the gable end. The massing is geometric and the front facade has minimal details, often presenting a blank face to the street, similar to Wrightâs earlier Usonian houses. Entries are de-emphasized and moved to one side of the building or obscured behind a partial wall. Glass block is employed in many examples to provide light while preserving Figure 152. Asiatic style applied to the Split-level form in the Collier Heights Historic District in Atlanta, Georgia, with upturned eaves and an Asian-inspired entrance (photograph courtesy of Sandy Lawrence, Georgia Department of Transportation). Figure 151. Asiatic style applied to the Ranch form in Whittier, California, constructed c.1960, with exaggerated eaves and a decorative screen (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). 388 A review of postwar residential surveys from across the country show the use of various stylistic terms, including Contemporary, Mid- century Modern, Modern, and Post-and-Beam to describe at times a somewhat similar use of architectural design features. This may be the result of regional variations and acceptance of certain terms to describe postwar residences with similarity in architectural design features. 389 California Department of Transportation, 85.
113 privacy on the front facade. By contrast, large windows, glass curtain walls, and sliding glass doors are widely employed on the rear elevations, facing onto backyards or interior court- yards. The style also emphasized the unity of indoor and out- door space, even in climates with long winters. Carports and garages are integrated into the house. Contemporary houses often employed new building materials, such as Formica, synthetic brick, and sheet panel products, or utilized established materials in new ways, such as glass block, Bakelite, plywood, and concrete block. The Con- temporary house also frequently employed natural materials, such as wood and stone, in order to integrate the residence with the natural landscape. Figures 153 to 155 show examples of Contemporary houses. Character-defining features include the following: â¢ One or one-and-one-half story; â¢ Simple, geometric massing; â¢ Flat or low-pitched roof; â¢ Large expanses of glass, including curtain walls and sliding glass doors; â¢ Integrated carport or garage; â¢ Unadorned wall surfaces and minimal decorative details; â¢ De-emphasized entries; â¢ Exposed post-and beam construction; and â¢ Modern and/or natural building materials. Shed Style. The Shed house, also known as a âSea Ranchâ in reference to its origins, represented a new direction in domestic architecture starting in the 1960s. Some of the ear- liest examples were located in the Sea Ranch community in northern California. The condominiums were designed by architects Charles Moore and John Turnbull and completed in 1965. At about the same time, architect Charles Gwathmey designed a Long Island, New York, beach house that was similar to the Sea Ranch homes. Subsequent features in pro- fessional journals as well as House Beautiful and House and Garden magazine caused builders and developers to adopt the style, which was environmentally integrated with natu- ral and rural landscapes and particularly adapted to vacation homes.390 Though it was used nationwide, the style predomi- nated on the east and west coasts where it was first adopted. The Shed house is composed of separate but conjoined building volumes with sloping, single-pitch multi-directional roofs with minimal eave overhang. The overall appearance is one of colliding or assembled building blocks and multiple massing, and one to one-and-one-half or two stories. Win- dows are varied in size with minimal trim and often provide scenic views, or clerestory day lighting at the upper walls. Figure 153. Contemporary style Split-level house in Omaha, Nebraska, constructed c.1960, with large expanses of glass, sloping roof line, and de-emphasized entrance (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 155. Contemporary style house in Palm Springs, California, constructed c.1954, with low- pitched roof, glass curtain wall, de-emphasized entrance, and attached carport (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 154. Contemporary style Split-level house in DeKalb County, Georgia, constructed c.1956, with a low-pitched roof, curtain wall at the entrance, minimal decorative details, and an integrated carport (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). 390 California Department of Transportation, 92-93.
114 The main entrances are commonly recessed and obscured. While shed roofs are most common, compound shed and gable roofs are also common. Cladding usually consists of naturally finished vertical or angled boards, board and bat- ten, shingles, and stone veneer. Large brick or stone chimneys occur in many examples. Attached garages are common, but detached versions are also found in the style. Figures 156 and 157 present examples of Shed houses. The character-defining features include the following: â¢ Geometric, multiple massing; â¢ Asymmetrical fenestration, often including clerestory windows; â¢ Prominent shed roofs with minimal eave overhang; â¢ Natural wood siding; and â¢ Absence of exterior decoration. Other Architectural Forms and Styles. Other forms and styles that appeared with less frequency in the postwar period include the A-Frame, Neo-Mansard, Geodesic Dome, and Earthen House. The A-frame gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as an iconic vacation home. The house forms an A-shape, with the steeply pitched gable roof extending to the ground. Other features include a rectangular plan, windows in the gable end, overhanging eaves, and a deck or patio (see Figure 158).391 Influenced by the Second Empire style of the 1860s-1880s, the Neo-Mansard appeared in the late 1960s as a return to the more traditional architectural forms of the postwar era. The mansard roof form was an easy way to obtain dramatic effect, while maintaining the overall Ranch and Split-level form and massing. The faux mansard roof is often clad in wood shake and it displays recessed windows (see Figure 159).392 Figure 156. Shed house in Lexington, Nebraska, constructed c.1975, with geometric massing, prominent shed roof lines, natural wood siding, and minimal exterior decoration (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 157. Shed house in Palo Alto, California, constructed c.1972, with intersecting shed roof lines, wood siding, clerestory windows, and an integrated garage (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 158. A-frame house in Overton, Nebraska, constructed c.1970, with overhanging eaves and a one- story addition on the side (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 159. Neo-Mansard style applied to the Ranch form in Worthington Hills, Ohio, constructed c.1970 (Mead & Hunt photograph). 391 Chad Garrett Randl, âThe Mania for A-Frames,â Old-House Journal (July-August 2004), 72-78. 392 Colorado Historical Society, Selected Post-World War II Residential Architectural Styles and Building Types ([Denver, Colo.]: Center for His- toric Preservation Research, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preser- vation, Colorado Historical Society, 2006), 13.
115 local dealers. The houses represented a new and innovative system of panelized prefabrication using steel framing and porcelain enamel coated steel panels that came in a variety of neutral and pastel colors, including surf blue, maize yel- low, desert tan, and dove gray. The company characterized the houses as a âconservative-modern Ranch style.â Their product is in many ways similar to the Minimal Traditional house in its compact massing and lack of exterior ornamentation.393 All of the models were rectangular in form with compact floor plans and a side gable roof clad in steel. The houses feature steel frame casement and aluminum frame picture windows. Some models include a recessed entry with a steel support post. The most important and distinguishing fea- ture is the porcelain enamel panels that constitute both the exterior cladding and interior walls. The Lustron Company offered customers various options to customize their houses. These included matching garages or carports, breezeways, patios, and screen porches. Fewer than 2,600 Lustron houses were constructed nationwide, with concentrations in New York, Virginia, and the Midwest.394 Figures 162 to 164 show examples of Lustron houses. The character-defining features include the following: â¢ Porcelain enamel coated steel siding; â¢ Gable roof clad in steel; â¢ One-story rectangular massing; â¢ Large aluminum frame picture and steel casement win- dows; and â¢ Recessed entrance with steel support (not on all models). Figure 161. Geodesic Dome house, constructed c.1970, with a one-story Ranch addition in Dane County, Wisconsin (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 160. Earthen house in Broken Bow, Nebraska, constructed c.1975 into an embankment with only one exposed elevation (Mead & Hunt photograph). Earthen houses, popular during the 1970s, were designed using natural terrain to form the walls of the house. The insu- lating qualities of the earth led to adoption of this type of con- struction during the energy crisis. Typically only one elevation is exposed; as a result, it includes a large number of windows (see Figure 160). Developed by Buckminster Fuller, the Geo- desic Dome house is composed of a series of triangular ele- ments. The houses were popular during the 1960s and 1970s and are typically located in rural areas (see Figure 161). c. Prefabricated Houses Some of the popular architectural styles and forms of the postwar period were mass produced by large-scale prefab- ricated home companies that operated at the national level. In addition, several regional firms also experienced success in the prefabricated housing market. The most common national-level companies are described herein, followed by regional examples. Lustron. Carl Strandlund established the Lustron Homes Corporation in 1947 in Columbus, Ohio, with a set purpose to produce an all-steel house. The prefabricated Lustron houses were manufactured between 1948 and 1950 and sold through Figure 162. Lustron house in Arlington County, Virginia, erected in 1949, retains the porcelain enamel dove gray siding, steel roof, inset entry and support post, and steel windows (Mead & Hunt photograph). 393 Lustron Corporation, The Lustron Home: A New Standard of Living (1948 advertising brochure) http://strandlund.tripod.com/index-21. html (accessed 22 January 2011). 394 âThe Lustron Home: A New Standard of Living,â The Preservationist, Vol. II, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2007,15.
116 dation was in place, you could start construction on a Tuesday morning and eat dinner in the home on Friday evening.395 Gunnison manufactured 4-ft by 8-ft wood frames and heat- treated plywood panels with door and window openings pre- installed at the factory. The panels could be assembled into a number of different configurations, and could be expanded in 4-ft increments, allowing the homeowner to customize the design. Other customizable options included fireplaces, brick chimneys, porches, breezeways, and garages.396 They were usually erected on a concrete slab on grade, but some were built on full basements. A collection of Gunnison Homes in Omaha, Nebraska, is situated on concrete basements with integrated garages, resulting in a Raised Ranch appearance. By 1950 Gunnison offered 14 basic models for assembly. Most of the models can be described as one-story, gable roof Ranch form houses, although Gunnison also offered more traditional Cape Cod and Colonial Revival models. Windows were steel casements, double-hung sash, or awning style, and it was common for a picture window to be prominently located on the facade. Marine-grade plywood was used on the exterior, which could be covered with shingles, siding, or other weatherboarding, or simply painted. Several Gunni- son houses exhibit a distinctive sheet metal chimney, making them easy to identify. For those with a detached garage, Gun- nison Homes offered an arbor to connect the building to the house. Metal registration plates with the company name and serial number were installed in the utility room.397 Figure 165 presents an example of a Gunnison house. Character-defining features include: â¢ Paneled frame construction; â¢ Gable roof; â¢ Steel casement windows, often with a nine-light picture window on the faÃ§ade; â¢ Wood exterior doors; and â¢ Sheet metal chimneys. National Homes Corporation. Located in Lafayette, Indiana, National Homes was established in 1940 by three for- mer Gunnison Homes employees. It became one of the larg- est prefabricated home producers in the country in the 1950s and 1960s, selling 325,000 homes by 1968. The company con- tinued in business until at least 1971. Authorized dealers in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were responsible for the distribution of the homes.398 Figure 164. Rear elevation of a Lustron house in Glenville, New York, erected in 1949, that retains the porcelain enamel dove gray siding, steel roof, support post, and steel windows (photograph courtesy of Kimberly Konrad Alvarez, Landmark Consulting LLC/NYS Lustron Project Coordinator). Figure 163. Lustron house in Madison, Wisconsin, erected c.1950, retains the porcelain enamel maize yellow siding, steel roof, and inset entry and support post; the windows have been replaced (Mead & Hunt photograph). Gunnison Homes/U.S. Steel. Gunnison Homes, based in New Albany, Indiana, pioneered the production of panel- ized stressed-skin plywood beginning in 1935. At the peak of World War II, the company produced 600 homes each month for war housing projects. U.S. Steel purchased controlling interest in the company in 1944 and bought out founder Fos- ter Gunnisonâs interest in 1953. At that time, the company became known as U.S. Steel Homes, Inc. The company ceased production of houses in 1974. Gunnison Homes were widely distributed across the country; by 1951 Foster Gunnison, founder of the company, stated that Gunnison Homes had been erected in 44 states. Gunnison Homes were popular due to the moderate price and customizable options. They were also constructed quickly; it has been stated that once the foun- 395 Patricia Lowry, âPrefab-ulous: Gunnison houses were sturdy, afford- able and went up in a wink,â Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 10 March 2007. 396 Lowry. 397 Kentucky Heritage Council, House in a Box: Prefabricated Housing in the Jackson Purchase Cultural Landscape Region, 1900 to 1960, June 2006, Available at http://heritage.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/69811BB7-B64C-43E7- AC2B-C7A83390E09D/0/HouseinaBox.pdf, 56, 87. 398 Kentucky Heritage Council, 57.
117 National Homes manufactured prefabricated, panelized, stressed-skin plywood homes. Panels were produced as full- room sized units with doors and windows pre-installed. A steel structural floor frame underpinned the primary struc- ture. The company offered five basic floorplans with nine different architectural forms or styles, including Ranch, Split-level, Colonial Revival, and Contemporary. Windows were commonly double-hung with a picture window on the front faÃ§ade, and exterior cladding was typically asbes- tos shingle, cedar shake, Masonite, or masonry.399 One of Nationalâs most distinctive houses was the modest âThriftâ model, a small âstarterâ house with a rectangular plan and side gable roof that resembled the Minimal Traditional form. Similar to Gunnison Homes, metal registration plates with the company logo and serial number were installed in the utility room.400 In 1953 the company retained noted Washington, D.C., area architect Charles Goodman to design a line of âCon- temporaryâ models (see Figure 166). One of his first designs was the one-story âRangerâ model, a Ranch form that was customizable with options including a carport and fenced âgarden court.â Two National Homes subdivisions were estab- lished in the Washington, D.C., area with Goodman-designed homes.401 In addition to the D.C. area subdivision, neighbor- hoods identified with National Homes include the Edgelea Subdivision in Lafayette, Indiana; Cornell and Brookhaven in Paducah, Kentucky; and the Brookdale and Snyder Subdivi- sions in Mason, Michigan (see Figure 167).402 Character-defining features include the following: â¢ One story; â¢ Rectangular form; â¢ Double-hung and picture windows; â¢ Paneled plywood construction; and â¢ Asbestos shingle, cedar shake, Masonite, or masonry cladding. Regional prefabricated manufacturers. In addition, smaller companies experienced regional success during the postwar era. Homes constructed by such companies may be encountered during survey and evaluation efforts. For example, Wisconsin had several companies that produced prefabricated homes at the regional level, including Harnischfeger Homes, Inc., which shipped out of state, and U-Form-It houses pro- duced and erected in the Madison area by Marshall Erdman. Harnischfeger Homes, Inc., a division of the Milwaukee- based Harnischfeger Corporation established in the 1930s, Figure 165. Gunnison Brideâs House model, erected in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1955, with an integrated garage (Mead & Hunt photograph). 399 Crane, 5. 400 Kentucky Heritage Council, 57. 401 Crane, 5-6. 402 Kentucky Heritage Council, 93; âNational Homes Arrive Early in the Morning, are Assembled on Foundations Before Nightfall,â Ingham County News, 15 January 1956: 2; âThe First Lifetime Aluminum Home Opens New Yearâs Day!â Ingham County News, 1 January 1996: B. Figure 167. National Homes prefabricated house in the Snyder Subdivision in Mason, Michigan, erected c.1956, with replacement siding and windows (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 166. Charles Goodman-designed National Homes Corporation c.1953 prefabricated home in Bel Air, Maryland (photograph courtesy of Anne Bruder, Maryland State Highway Administration).
118 was located in Port Washington, Wisconsin, and sold pre- fabricated homes between the mid-1930s and mid-1960s. Harnischfeger subdivisions have been identified in Port Washington and Madison, Wisconsin, and Mason, Michigan. The Blackhawk Park Subdivision in Madison contains 136 single-family houses that were intended to serve as rental units at the time of development in 1950. The prefabricated homes feature rectangular massing and a side gable roof, in some cases with a slight eave overhang. Picture windows and a double-hung sash typically flank the entrance.403 Figure 168 shows an example of a Harnischfeger prefabricated home. The U-Form-It prefabricated house (see Figure 169) was developed by Marshall Erdman, a Madison-based merchant builder who was concerned with advantages of residential pre- fabrication such as cost savings and standardization of parts for quick assembly and erection. In 1953 Erdman and a local lum- ber supplier introduced two models of the U-Form-It house. Built of pre-cut modular panels, these first models were one- story, three-bedroom residences designed by the local archi- tectural firm of Weiler & Strang. Theoretically, the U-Form-It residence could be assembled and arranged by the homeowner; however, these residences were most frequently erected by Erdman or other local contractors and builders. Each model included two plan options and roof and garage variations. In 1953 and 1954, the kits were available only within a 75-mile radius of Madison.404 According to a Life Magazine article from October 26, 1953, Erdmanâs U-Form-It residences were âneither the first nor cheapest . . . but probably the best-designed.â405 4. Garages and Carports The garage became an integral part of the home during the postwar period. In previous decades, the garage was typi- cally a detached structure that was also functionally separated from the homeâs living space. These freestanding structures of prior decades often mimicked the appearance of the house and were located at the rear of the lot. With the omission of rear alleys from the majority of postwar residential develop- ments, the detached garage shifted to the front of the prop- erty and was often attached directly to the house or integrated into an exposed basement level. Attached and integrated garages were the preferred option beginning in the late 1930s as garages located at the rear of the lot were seen as detracting from available garden and outdoor living space. After the war, this trend only increased. In 1948 attached garages were promoted by the Community Buildersâ Council. At this time the Council also promoted the garage as additional storage space or overflow recreational space and recommended adding 5 to 6 ft of additional space in a single-car garage. Although attached garages may have increased construction costs, the shorter driveways and inte- gral construction resulted in savings.406 Nationally, 47 percent of new homes constructed in 1953 included a garage; however, they were significantly more pop- ular in certain regions. In Los Angeles, the forefront of the automobile culture, 88 percent of new homes had a garage, and the two-car garage was already popular. Basement-level garages were popular in areas where basements were a neces- sity, including Pittsburgh.407 Figure 168. Harnischfeger prefabricated home in Madison, Wisconsin, erected c.1950 (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 169. Prefabricated U-Form-It House in Madison, Wisconsin, erected in 1955 (Mead & Hunt photograph). 403 Miller, n.p. 404 It is unknown if or when the kits began to be distributed beyond the greater Madison area. 405 Doug Moe and Alice DâAlessio, Uncommon Sense: The Life of Mar- shall Erdman (Black Earth, Wis.: Trails Custom Publishing, 2003), 75-77; Anna Andrzejewski âThe Builderâs Wright: Marshall Erdman, Wrightification and Regional Modernism in Madison, Wisconsin,â Paper presented at the 30th Annual Vernacular Architecture Forum, Washington, D.C., 19-22 May 2010. 406 Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Institute, The Community Builders Handbook (1948), 87. 407 Jacobs, âYou Canât Dream Yourself a Houseâ: The Evolving Postwar Dwelling and Its Preeminent Position within a Renewed Consumer World 1945-1970, 161-162.
119 For builders, the aspect of the width of the house to the width of attached garage was important to create an appeal- ing entrance or view from the street. The architecture of the Colonial Revival, Ranch, Split-level, and Contemporary home was well suited to attached garages. In addition, the integrated basement-level garage worked well with variations of the Ranch and Split-level forms. Although carports were utilized by Prairie School archi- tects in the 1910s and by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Usonian designs of the 1930s, it was not until the postwar era that they became commonplace. Their minimalist appearance worked well with modern architectural styles and they were generally less expensive than garages. As a result, carports were common in subdivisions that received FHA financ- ing, which had a maximum home cost (see Figures 170 and 171).408 Although carports were more practical in warmer cli- mates, both attached and freestanding varieties were popular nationwide. The majority of carports had similar features; attached models were connected to one end of the house and included within the roofline. They often incorporated the same materials as the house and included a storage area. Plan books from the 1950s and 1960s included carports that could be incorporated into the overall house to increase liv- ing space, allowing families to purchase a home at a lower cost and have the flexibility to modify the carport as they needed the space.409 By the 1970s the garage proved more popular than the car- port. The openness of the carport was its downfall as multi- car families in need of storage wanted enclosed spaces that were not visible.410 5. Landscape and Site Features Like postwar subdivisions and architecture, where the same overall layouts, forms and styles were popular across the country, landscape designs were similar nationwide. As a result, most postwar subdivisions looked similar regard- less of the region.411 Designs were promoted by the FHA, ULI, NAHB, and popular magazines of the period, includ- ing House Beautiful. Regional variation was generally limited to planting selections and response to topography and lot configuration. a. Yards and Fences In the 1936 publication Principles of Planning Small Houses, the FHA stated âtrees and shrubbery may be used to enhance the architectural character, and are frequently more effective than the decorative use of material in providing the charm essential to a satisfactory home. Planting may further- more add directly to the living quality of a property.â Shade trees were recommended to frame the house design as well as provide respite from the afternoon sun. Trees could also be used to subdue projecting garages and unify the compo- sition of the property. Slow growing evergreen and decidu- ous trees were recommended for planting near the house, as they would not develop quickly and obscure the view of the facade. Large trees were recommended for placement at the corners along with lower shrubs. Hedges along lot lines were viewed as a way to increase privacy and prevent footpaths from being worn on the lawn.412 Although House Beautiful featured many architect-designed homes with designed landscapes, during the postwar era Figure 171. Ranch house in Upper Arlington, Ohio, constructed c.1955, with a carport integrated into the overall form (Mead & Hunt photograph). Figure 170. Postwar houses with carports in the Eastridge subdivision of Lincoln, Nebraska, which qualified for FHA financing when it was developed in 1953 (Mead &Hunt photograph). 408 Jason Fox and R. Brooks Jeffery, Carport Integrity Policy, Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (Unpublished, adopted October 2005), Available at the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, 2. 409 Fox and Jeffery, 2-3. 410 Fox and Jeffery, 3. 411 Marc Treib, ed., The Architecture of Landscape, 1940-1960 (Philadel- phia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 160. 412 United States Federal Housing Administration, Principles of Plan- ning Small Houses (1936), 34-35.
120 the magazine also provided guidance for accommodating such designs to subdivisions, where lots typically averaged 60 by 120 ft.413 The magazine also urged homeowners to add their individuality to the suburban landscape by creating a yard or garden that reflected their personality, while also con- forming to the established neighborhood. Noted landscape architects of the period also provided guidance to the home owners, including Thomas Church and the Gardens Are for People: How to Plan for Outdoor Living, Garrett Eckbo and the Art of Home Landscaping, and Sunset Magazineâs âLandscape for Western Living.â414 Although developers were encouraged to incorporate overall planting plans into their developments, individual homeowners were also encouraged to develop individual landscape plans that fit with the overall neighborhood char- acter. The NAHB recommended that developers promote individual landscape plans for purchase by home owners at the time of the house purchase. Developed by landscape architects, the plans were to be simple and included diagrams for each area of the lot, along with a planting list. The NAHB also encouraged developers to have a completed landscape with the model home as an incentive for potential buyers.415 The lawn became an important symbol of the post- war suburban neighborhood. Initially, grass was planted by developers after construction because it was a fast and inexpensive way to enhance the area and create a park-like setting. The result was a subdivision that resembled those of the previous decades, with the exception being the lack of trees that had been cleared for building. The lush green lawn quickly became an American ideal, promoted in print and advertisements. Several new products were made avail- able to create the uniform, park-like green space between the street and the house. Beginning in the 1950s, hybrid grass seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, power lawn mowers, and automatic sprinkler systems were available to the American public to further this ideal of the suburban lawn.416 During the postwar era, the backyard transformed from an area used to complete outdoor housework, such as laundry, to a recreational space that was an extension of the indoor living space. Clotheslines were removed and backyard gardens, patios, barbeques, and childrenâs play areas became popular additions to the landscape. Outdoor paving materials and planters were seen as a low-maintenance way to enhance the area. With the increased outdoor living space and the number of expansive windows in postwar homes, privacy became a key aspect of design. Walls, fences, concrete screens, and hedges were integrated into the landscape as visual barriers. The ULI saw these as integral into the site and lot development and urged builders to consider their inclusion during the initial planning phase. House Beautiful promoted fences and hedges, especially those that provided privacy but did not offend the neighbor.417 b. Patios Although not all climates were ideal for year-round out- door living, almost all Ranch homes and other popular forms and styles included patio or outdoor living space (see Fig- ure 172). A 1947 House Beautiful article asserted âThe ranch house indoor-outdoor way of living neednât be limited to the West . . . it can fit cold climates, too.â418 The patio was a way to integrate the interior and exterior living space, and large expanses of windows and sliding glass patio doors often provided access to the outdoor space. The patio typically included a paved area suitable for outdoor living and dining, bordered by raised planters or decorative screening, such as vegetation or concrete walls. The size of the patio varied from a small paved pad with limited space for barbequing and dining to large elaborate areas with outdoor living furniture and defined recreational areas. In warmer climates patios often took the form of court- yards, surrounded by the house on two or more sides, which offered additional shade. In some areas, including Georgia, 413 Treib, 183. 414 Ames and McClelland, 71. Thomas Church was a noted landscape architect who worked with Eichler and other notable builders during the period. 415 The National Association of Home Builders, Home Builders Manual for Land Development, Second Revised Edition (Washington, D.C.: The National Association of Home Builders, February 1958), 201-202. 416 Virginia Scott Jenkins, The Lawn: A History of American Obsession (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994), 102. Figure 172. Patio located at rear elevation of c.1956 Ranch house in Lincoln, Nebraska (Mead & Hunt photograph). 417 Treib, 193; Community Buildersâ Council of the Urban Land Insti- tute, The Community Builders Handbook (1954), 102. 418 As quoted in Richfield, 40.
121 the patio took the form of a screen porch, allowing for protec- tion from mosquitos and other pests (see Figure 173). c. Driveways and Sidewalks The earliest driveways were strips of pavement or worn earth that led from the street to the detached garage, typi- cally located near the rear of the lot. However, in the post- war era, as the garage became integrated into the house, the driveway shifted to the front of the yard and became a focal feature. The resulting driveway was wider and often served as the primary entrance to the home, in some cases replacing the front walk. The driveway also became more permanent as the standard materials evolved from compacted dirt or gravel to concrete and asphalt. In many postwar neighborhoods, driveways evolved to serve several other functions, including play areas, ball courts, and front yard patios for socializing. In many cases they became the primary parking area as garages were used predominantly for storage.419 d. Family Shelters In addition to the patio and outdoor living space, âfam- ily sheltersâ were a postwar innovation that influenced the residential yard. As the Cold War persisted throughout the postwar period and the publicâs fear of nuclear weapons grew following the Cuban Missile Crisis, family shelters, also known as fallout shelters and bomb shelters, were marketed to families as sanctuary in the event of a nuclear war. At the Figure 173. Ranch house near Decatur, Georgia, constructed in 1949, with screen porch on the side elevation (photograph courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division). height of their popularity, between 1949 and 1962, approxi- mately 200,000 shelters were constructed in the United States.420 The Department of Defense published handbooks for the construction of fallout shelters. These designs were intended to be erected in backyards and basements, for use by families without access to community shelters. The 1962 edition of the Department of Defenseâs âFamily Shelter Designsâ edition included instructions for a variety of shelters, from basement to mounded designs. The December 1961 edition of Popular Mechanics included plans for a model that could be constructed quickly under the backyard patio, based on previously unpub- lished plans from the Office of Civil Defense. These shelters were designed to protect families from the effects of radioactive fallout and could be easily constructed with available materials, provided one followed the included construction sequence. A complete shelter typically included a toilet, a battery-operated lighting system, fresh air intake and exhaust system, cots, and a supply of food and water.421 The Gainsforth House in Ogallala, Nebraska, includes an early example of a family shelter that was constructed in 1949, at the same time as the familyâs Ranch house (see Figure 174). Dr. Gainsforth designed the shelter himself, which was acces- sible only from a tunnel between the house and the garage (see Figure 175). The shelter included indoor plumbing, with water coming from a nearby well. The family stocked the shelter with enough canned food to last one week and enough water to last two weeks.422 419 Girling and Helphand, 31-32. 420 California Department of Transportation, 37-40; Jill M. (Ebers) Dolberg, Dr. Burdette and Myrna Gainsforth House National Register Nomination, 8-3. Figure 174. The Gainsforth House in Ogallala, Nebraska, a modest Ranch house constructed in 1949 with an underground bunker (photograph courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society). 421 Department of Defense â Office of Civil Defense, âFamily Shelter Designs,â Handbook (Washington, D.C.: n.p.,1962); âYou Can Build a Low-Cost Shelter Quicklyâ Popular Mechanics December, 1961, 85-86. 422 Dolberg, 8-4.
122 Because fallout shelters and bunkers were intended to house only the immediate family or a small group of people, their locations were not made obvious. Oftentimes only a few elements, such as hatches or air intakes, are visible on the landscape, making them difficult to identify (see Figure 176). Figure 176. Bomb shelter in Sonora, California, constructed c.1960, from left to right are the exhaust air vent, hatch, and fresh air intake (photograph courtesy of Andrew Hope, Caltrans). Figure 175. Concrete tunnel between the Gainsforth House and garage in Ogallala, Nebraska, that also led to the family bunker (photograph courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society). H. Conclusion This national historic context discusses the national trends that influenced suburbanization and residential development during the postwar period, as well as the architectural styles and forms that were prevalent during this era. It provides the framework for understanding the social, economic, govern- mental, and political influences on the development of post- war single-family residences nationally. Along with the model context outline, which will assist with the development of tar- geted local and regional contexts, this national context can guide development of an appropriate local or regional con- text which can, in turn, be used to inform field survey and documentation efforts and evaluate the National Register eligibility of postwar residential resources.