1955 PARADE OF HOMES-Part Three

The 1955 Kansas City Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Guidebook featured the above ad on the back cover, naming "powerhouse" builders of the time...I love the wall refrigerator, which I think was a cool idea thet never took off, perhaps because of costs and reduced wall storage space...still a cool idea. Note the "All-in-One" unit in the upper right called the "Kitchen Center"...every appliance but the refrigerator grouped together as one, sounds daunting and depressing by today's standards...but convenient!
The guidebook is a great example of the growth of "First-Ring" suburbs like Prairie Village, KS. The ranch dominated the styles available...
The house below was by Sam Symons, builder. You will see a number of examples of this identifiable plan throughout the area. He was a "direct" competitor with Don Drummond for a few years in the "Modern" home market, and many people refer to these homes as "Drummonds" because of similar characteristics. This house is the largest of the three built on the southeast corner of 75th and Lamar. 75th street was just recently paved and was two-lane setting the houses well back from the road. I love the pricing, for example: "Six Foot Longer House- $1000". The houses were priced in the guidebook from "$15,000 to $17,500". Interesting to note Symons office on Juniper was one of this plan.

The house below is the Better Homes and Gardens "Idea Home of the Year"... built by Vic Regnier. Vic was a builder/ developer at the time, building many homes in the area near Ranchmart Shopping Center (which he developed and built including his multi-family residences. According to the O.P. Sun, Vic was estimated to be worth about $36 million in the late 1980's. That didn't stop him from coming to work everyday in his beat up pickup truck bringing his lunch and washing it down with buttermilk... a brilliant business man who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, you would often see him at Ranchmart Hardware, where I think he preferred to be).
Vic didn't build many "modern" houses, preferring a more traditional ranch house. The house below had the breezeway lifestyle, which ultimately would get enclosed, expanding livable square footage. When I first saw it in the late 1980's it still had it's light-stained mahogany walls and cabinets... The "magazine" house was all the rage at the time, it being a unique medium to reach the public, and more importantly, women...as I understand it, this architect was in/involved with the architectural firm of Hugh Stubbins, giving it a unique pedigree... per the guidebook, this house was priced $30,000-$35,000...as far as we know, this was the only one of this plan built. The images are not here now...but I may add them later...

1955 PARADE OF HOMES- Part Two

It's fun to live in a "Magazine Cover Home"...with color harmonized interiors personally selected by Cliff May. In 1955, Stanley Cowherd, Builder contracted to build five speculative houses near 77th and Lamar in Prairie Village, KS. These homes were part of a marketing thrust by Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and Cliff May, house designer, promoting a better lifestyle for less money through better design. The homes were priced from $20,000 to $25,000. The builder planned to build these homes in nearby communities, but as far as we know these were the only ones constructed. I talked to Stanley Cowherd's niece and she said he died in the 1980's and no one was left in the family that knew any details about his building and/or company. These are the only Cliff May homes in Kansas City that we know of. A large custom May design in Mission Hills, KS. was torn down a couple of years ago.
Above, the most lavish of the group and the parade model...check out the floor plan, the patio doubles the living area. The photo below shows how the house looks today from the south, note the "raised" roof done in the early 1980's(probably as an all-in-one "solution" to a tar and gravel roof replacement gaining added insulation and addressing the "market" concerns with low-pitched roofs), it partially conceals the clerestory windows. A popular design element at the time was the garage and carport combination.

Below, the house seen from the north...walled patio on the left.

Streetside scenes...as a rule these homes were sited for the most privacy, light and ventilation...

For more info on Cliff May designed homes being built in 1955 check out: http://www.cliffmayregistry.com/ Be sure to check out the original home guide (found in the house featured in the blog below) and note May's kookie font on the brochure. Also check out http://www.ranchostyle.com/.
To see a blog about restoring one of these homes in Prairie Village, KS go to our friends' site at http://cliffmayremodel.blogspot,com/
or see Kansas City Home Remodel Blogs- Our Love of Cliff May


The 1955 Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Tour was the 8th year of the homes tour. It was was the first year of the homes tour to have a guidebook. It is interesting to see the way houses were promoted at the time and the way builders addressed the buyers needs and wants. The house below at 79th and Juniper "markets" a twenty mile view long before the trees grew.
Below, Interesting floor plan with lower level entry. "Restricted"...? That was of it's time... In the area, split level plans were a minority in the mid-fifties, ranches being the dominant plan. Schaeffer and Company did the rendering, which is wonderful...they did many of the local architects' perspectives at this time...

Below, J.C. Nichols Company advertising in the Guidebook. This house was designed by Edward Tanner and Associates. Many subtle messages here talking to market value and location..."THINK before you invest".
The house below is built by a builder who did numerous houses in the first-ring suburbs KS/MO.(Click on Image to Enlarge