Kansas City Homes and Gardens September/October Issue-1991 Drummond Stroll

Speaking of magazines, I found this one in a pile of stuff I saved. It featured a neighborhood tour and get together we had in 1991...it was the first effort to tour and promote the houses of Ninety-Eighth Place. It couldn't have been better when in 2005 we had a KCModern Tour of the neighborhood (the houses never looked better) and hosted our special guest, Don Drummond. I talked to him the other day and he said to tell everyone hello...he'll be 95 this October and still seems spunky on the phone. I apologize for the quality, the pages have seen a few storms...Click to enlarge the pages.

Perfect Home- Real Estate Brochures from the 1960's

A friend gave me some "magazines" he found while cleaning out his wife's grandmother's house, as it turned out it was a small stack of promotional real estate magazines called The Perfect Home Magazine, published and presented by Jackson and Scherer, Real Estate-Insurance-Building. Apparently the publication was paid for by numerous sponsors. Averaging about ten to twelve pages per issue, I guess I should call them brochures. The color cover featured houses that were in the KC area but most of them were not, as seen below...

I love the photo below, the issue features exterior skylights, I'm not sure this small circular one has much impact other than visually.

About the fifth magazine down in the pile, I found this one featuring the Marcel Breuer designed house on Belinder in Mission Hills, KS. The home was 8 years old when this issue came out in May, 1962. It was never for sale and and is still owned by the original clients. Inside there are no stories, features or more photos of the house.

They do have great little stories and features covering a wide variety of topics, all in black and white. The magazine has nice photography with very little attribution.

Below: There's even a quiz to see how up to date you are...

I have never heard of this company. They have a Kansas City, KS address on the cover. If anyone has any info, please send in your remarks...A BIG salute to Jackson and Scherer!

Do You Remember...?

Do you remember this unique home? Loved it or hated it, it became a modern landmark for over twenty years...while driving on Hwy I-35 just west of downtown, you could see this modern house that for many years stood sentinal over the city's westside. I met the owner back in 1980-81, but cannot remember his name. I recall it being said that he was the designer/builder...does anyone know the name of the architect, designer, etc? I would love to hear from you...
The ground floor was a garage, support plinth was storage on different levels with a staircase and elevator for more convenient access to the living spaces. The roof top deck was breathtaking to me probably because of the "open" feeling, especially prior to the railing installation...I'm weird about heights and though I loved the interiors and could imagine a winter evening inside looking at the distant traffic and Christmas lights, I found it unsettling on the rooftop deck, like being on a heliopad on top of a building.

These photos were taken when the property had changed hands to developers and they were using the house to market the views and intending on demolishing the house. It was torn down a couple of years ago to make way for a five house development of "historic styled" city homes. I may be wrong about the details but for years not many developers would invest in this area. In the last 10 years the area has had renewed interest with many people seeking an urban lifestyle. The Westside area has some very unique architecture, from century old small brick homes, looming shingle style mansions to "Dwell" style houses. This house as a landmark has been replaced with a large, less dramatic modern house just to the south.
Below: Looking south, Crown Center on the left, the World War I Memorial and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed BMA Tower (now One Park Place Condiminiums) and so much more were easily seen from what was truly a viewing platform.
Here's to people with an idea and the guts (and money) to get it realized!

1955 Brochure for 'The House that HOME Built'

KCMODERN friend, Scott Butterfield did some serious scan work of 'The House that HOME Built' brochure to let us share it with our readers. The promotional brochure was designed and printed by NBC for participating builders to use in their marketing of 'The House that HOME Built.' Kansas City Modern Builder, Don Drummond gave the brochure to Scott's parents in 1955, when they were thinking about having Don build them a house. Don Drummond signed the back cover for Scott at a soiree during the Drummond Weekend in 2006.

Also note the math notation on the last image from 1955 to Scott's parents, "1680 square feet x $15 per square foot = $25,200." That is not a bad price for a Jones and Emmons designed home that was also built by Joseph Eichler. That would be $200,000 to $275,00o in today's dollars depending on what conversion you use. I would hate to have to try to build it today for $275k!

As I have mentioned before Jones and Emmons Architects went on to design the X-100 and Case Study House #24 for Joe Eichler.

Enjoy 'The House that HOME Built' in all its Mid-Century Modern goodness!

If you have not read it yet be sure to check out this article on 'The House that HOME Built.'

'The House that HOME Built'

In 1955 a popular TV show convinced builders across the country, including Kansas City’s own Don Drummond, to try their own Eichler homes
By Robert McLaughlin - originally written for the Eichler Network Newsletter

Arlene Francis displays a scale model of 'The House that HOME Built' on NBC-TV network show, 'HOME.' Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

In Northern California, Eichler homes became as much a part of the landscape as chaparral and live oak trees. Except for a handful in upstate New York, and about 750 Eichler look-alikes in Oregon, Eichler homes never made much impact on the country as a whole. But for a brief time in the mid-1950s, it looked like they might when builders like Kansas City’s, Don Drummond began building their own authorized version of the Eichler home.

In 1955, thanks to a popular NBC television show ‘HOME,’ a design that California architects, Jones & Emmons originally created for builder, Joseph Eichler began popping up in 20 or more cities throughout the United States. Jones and Emmons Architects went on to design the X-100 and Case Study House #24 for Joe Eichler. Each house was built by local merchant builders attracted to the program by the free publicity provided by the popular show, sort of a mid-‘50s HGTV.

One builder who enthusiastically got behind the program was Donald Drummond, the nearest thing Kansas City had to a Joe Eichler.

‘HOME,’ hosted by Arlene Francis and correspondent Hugh Downs, aired weekdays following NBC’s Today show. It had 2 million viewers, mostly women. ‘The House That HOME Built’ segment, which ran regularly, tried to persuade America that glass-walled, low-gabled, modern homes would work anywhere in the country, not just sunny California.
NBC 'HOME' Logo, 1955. Image from HTHB Brochure courtesy of Scott Butterfield.

The ‘House That HOME Built’ was co-sponsored by NBC and the National Association of Home Builders. Housing expertise was supplied by C.W. Smith, director of the Southwest Research Institute’s Housing Research Foundation.

“We recognize that regional preferences exist,” Smith told House and Home magazine in an April 1955 story, “but we want to show people that steep roofs, small windows and basements in the northeastern part of the country are due entirely to prejudice and habit and are entirely unnecessary technically as well as undesirable from a performance standpoint.”

Rendered image of the 'HTHB' from Pacific Architect and Builder Magazine, April 1955. Courtesy of the A. Quincy Jones Archive and Elaine Jones.

Each builder paid $200 for the plans and agreed to build one model to be open to the public. A June 4, 1955 deadline was set to coincide with ‘HOME’s national publicity.

The program was likely the brainchild of Eichler, who hoped the buzz generated by the show would promote his own houses. According to the April 1955 article in House and Home, Eichler and Smith persuaded Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons to design the house. In truth, Eichler had been building early versions of the Jones and Emmons design since 1953.

The producers mandate to Jones and Emmons was to design a house appropriate for any climate that could be constructed by builders anywhere in the United States. The program’s goal was to show “that an attractive, up-to date house, embodying principles of good design, can be built at a moderate cost.”

Promotion began when a model of Jones and Emmons’ design appeared on the show, which was broadcast from New York, on Feb. 28, 1955.
On the of the NBC set presenting a model of 'The House that HOME Built' with R.J. Caravan of the National Association of Home Builders; Arlene Francis, star of 'HOME'; C.W. Smith housing authority on 'HOME' and director of the Housing Research Foundation of the Southwest Research Institute; and A. Quincy Jones, architect of 'The House that HOME Built'. Image from Pacific Architect and Builder Magazine, April 1955. Courtesy of the A. Quincy Jones Archive and Elaine Jones.

Jones realized that what worked for buyers in California might face resistance elsewhere. “We are going to be criticized that it is extreme, but it’s not,” he said. “Almost everything that’s in here we’ve been doing for 10 years.”

Eichler appeared on the show with Illinois builder Bruce Blietz two days later, and Drummond appeared March 25. Commercial television was less than a decade old, but both builders understood its power. “I figured I had about five minutes to sell a thousand houses,” Drummond recalled in a recent interview.
NBC 'HOME' Studio in New York City, 1955. Image from HTHB Brochure courtesy of Scott Butterfield.

‘The House that HOME Built’ was a typical Jones H-plan, with two terraces defined by exterior walls. Kansas City Drummond owners call them “side atriums.”

One terrace is adjacent to the public entrance. The other is a private outdoor living area. An open kitchen-living area forms the center of the house, connecting the two legs of the H. Bedrooms fill the rear leg, while a carport and “all-purpose room” fill the front leg, which faces the street. The bi-nuclear plan successfully separates living and sleeping areas.

The roots of the home can be found in some of Jones & Emmons earlier plans for Eichler, including the JE- 15, JE-35, JE-51 and the JE-85.
'The House that HOME Built' Plan Courtesy of the A. Quincy Jones Archive and Elaine Jones.

A JE-85 clone appears in House and Home magazine in July 1955, and seems to be the immediate predecessor to ‘The House That HOME Built,’ Ernie Braun’s photos for the article were dated April 1955, establishing it as finishing just as the NBC program was starting. Jones and Emmons had designed more than 200 plans for Eichler by 1955 and ‘The House That HOME Built’ seems to be the pinnacle of this particular plan type. Soon Eichler’s focus would shift to the atrium plan.

Joseph Eichler's JE-85 on the cover of the House+Home Magazine, July 1955.

Unlike earlier Eichlers the post and beam frame and fascia of ‘The House That HOME Built’ extended past the roof eaves to form a trellis-like overhead structure on the side terraces.
Image announcing 'The House that HOME Built' program from House+Home Magazine, April 1955.

Two things Jones thought unusual were the location of the laundry between bedrooms, and a built-in dining table with two built-in burners and an oven at the end. Jones had recently designed a similar prototype kitchen for Frigidaire. A table cooktop was also included in Jones’ own steel house and the X-100 prototype steel house that he did for Eichler a year later.
Rendering of 'The House that HOME Built' kitchen. Image from HTHB Brochure courtesy of Scott Butterfield.

The most notable refinement to the new plan was a sliding glass door between the kitchen and terrace. “This blew the whole center of the house open,” says Scott Lane, a Kansas City real estate broker and Drummond enthusiast. Other changes included the substitution of a carport for a garage and revised bathroom locations. Many builders went ahead and included a garage in this house that was already rather luxurious for the time.

Eichler and Drummond were masters of merchandising. It is no coincidence that the kitchen, baths and laundry were the focus of changes to the plan. This reflects the power women were gaining over such major decisions as buying a house.

Not relying solely on NBC’s ‘HOME’ to reach would-be buyers, Drummond had a local cooking show broadcast from the kitchen of his model home. The show promoted appliances that could be purchased with the home.

“There was a nice little profit to be made from the sale of these appliances with the house,” Drummond says.

Some of the builders who took on ‘The House that HOME Built’ challenge may have been nervous about the home’s modern touches. But not Drummond. Unlike most of the builders, who constructed only one home, Drummond was soon building several.
Bruce Blietz of Illinois had clocked nearly 10,000 visitors to his "HTHB" and garnered new prestige for his firm. Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

Drummond was unsure about one aspect of the house – the master bedroom’s sliding glass door. But he was overruled by his wife and business partner, Frances Drummond, who was responsible for Drummond’s career-making decision to hire a real architect to design his homes. “Francie thought it was a good idea, so we kept it. She thought it would appeal to the women.”
Don Drummond expected to net about forty sales from his showing of the house on Canterbury Street in Prairie Village, Kansas. Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

Cleveland builder, Peter Krutschnitt modified the plan, probably to deal with harsh winters. As seen in a 1955 advertisement for Fenestra Windows, the house was rotated so its entry faced the street, something Drummond did as well. The carport was replaced by a garage, and the roof overhangs were extended to provide protection for rafter ends. It appears that many builders placed the home on corner lots to allow the homes side entry to face the street.

Peter Krutschnitt 'HTHB' in a Fenestra Window Advertising Image from House+Home Magazine, September 1955.

By late spring the publicity for the homes was beginning to crescendo. The June 1 episode of ‘HOME’ featured a segment showing Thomas Church, one of the founders of modern landscape architecture, preparing planting designs for Eichler. And across the country, builders were hustling.

“My father had workmen working day and night the last two weeks of the project,” says Henry Schwier Jr., the son of New Jersey builder Henry Schwier.
Henry Schwier of Sea Girt, New Jersey set his model on a 1/4 acre waterfront lot and kept it open for several months. Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

On June 3, the day before the homes’ public opening, the entire show was devoted to ‘The House that HOME Built,’ beginning with a race between movers in San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver to outfit the homes with model furnishings. Afterwards, the builders were interviewed about their models.
In Flint, Michigan, Robert Gerholtz drew record crowds and wanted to participate again in 1956. Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

Not every builder, however, crossed the finish line by June 4. Some builders blamed the delays on a late spring. Others had trouble getting FHA approval for loans. Eichler and Drummond finished their houses on time along with at least seven other participants.

Eleven builders were given a second deadline, Sept. 10, during National Home Week. All of the latecomers who finished for this deadline were from Northern States.
C.B. Rogers tallied 4500 visitors on opening day alone. Image courtesy of NAHB Archive , NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

Most of the builders did well thanks to the program.

“Eleven sales consummated, $242,000 volume,” Drummond telegraphed ‘HOME’ in late June. “Thirty sales in process of being signed, at $720,000. Three weeks after ‘HOME’ promotion, sales response becoming stronger daily. Public thinks house is wonderful. It is affecting the desire to buy… Combined promotional effort is now snowballing. Market appears unlimited here. Will appreciate the opportunity to cooperate with ‘HOME’ in any way.”

Eichler Homes had similar news to report. “Sixteen houses sold in four locations,” a telegram from D.L. Stoffe read. “Total of 61 various houses sold within the four developments. Attendance in first twelve days approximately 10,000. Public response excellent. Sizable coverage of story in all San Francisco newspapers and many others in Northern California.”
M.C. (Marcus) Bogue of Denver, Colorado greeted a few of the 22,000 people who turned out for his opening of the "HTHB". Image courtesy of NAHB Archive, NAHB Correlator, October 1955.

As it turns out, ‘The House that HOME Built” was unable to ignite a nationwide desire to live in Eichler-style homes.

By October 1955, ‘HOME’ was planning new programming for 1956 with New York architect, Eldridge Snyder, designing three less modern models for builders to choose from, including ranch and split level homes. Drummond built one of the single level designs at 98th Place, but it is assumed that Eichler did not participate in the second program.
Architect, Eldridge Snyder's Celebrity 1956 HTHB Model had 1325 sq.ft. with two bedrooms, three baths and fit on a 60' lot. This model was built by Don Drummond at 98th Place in Overland Park. Image from House+Home Magazine, October 1955.

New York Architect, Eldridge Snyder's 1956 "HTHB" Spacesetter split-level model had five bedrooms, three baths and a laundry.

By the late ‘50s, romantic styles trickled into shelter magazines, crowding out the modern. For some builders, ‘HOME’ was their first and only foray into modern design. For Drummond, however, the program was just one step in a career largely devoted to modern home construction.

Today, although “Drummonds” have not achieved the mythical status of Eichler homes, they have a dedicated, cult-like following of artists, designers, realtors and architects who appreciate their open plans, post-and-beam structure, and expansive glass.

Spring Martini Modern - Bob Gould Residence - Now on March 21, 2010

Our Winter Martini Modern has officially become a Spring Martini Modern. As most of you know, we had to postpone our tour of Architect, Bob Gould's home due to the wintry weather back in February. Well, the rescheduled event is quickly approaching and it has become a party to celebrate the first full day of Spring. So join us on March 21, 2010, 4:00-6:00 PM.

Celebrate the end of Winter, the beginning of Spring and the Equinox with Modern Friends and tour this amazing Mission Hills home designed and owned by prominent, local architect Bob Gould. The clean lines, spectacular arched and vaulted ceilings will delight you. This 1950's home has been transformed!

If you registered for the cancelled Winter Martini Modern, you do not have to register again. We have reserved your registration for this event.

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Historic Kansas City Foundation.

Register Now!

George Kraigher House by Architect, Richard Neutra - In Depth

Recent image from unknown internet source

On 24 May 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the George Kraigher House on Paredes Line Road as one of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places for 2004. Reflecting increased awareness of the historical value of modern architecture, the then sixty-seven-year-old Kraigher House, the first International Style house built in Texas, was one of two modern buildings on the Trust’s most endangered list in 2004.

The Kraigher House was built in 1937 to the designs of Richard J. Neutra (1892-1970), an Austrian-born and–trained architect who immigrated to the United States in 1923. Settling in Los Angeles in 1925, Neutra attained international recognition as one of the foremost advocates of the Modern Movement in twentieth-century architecture with his first important building in the US, the Lovell “Health House” in Los Angeles of 1927-29. Despite the onset of the Great Depression, Neutra produced a series of inventive modern buildings in California, mostly small houses, that were extensively publicized in the international architectural press. According to Neutra’s biographer, Thomas S. Hines, it was during a business trip to Los Angeles in 1936 that George Kraigher, a Pan American Airways pilot, saw one of Neutra’s houses and commissioned the architect to design a country house for him in Brownsville, where Pan American Airways had established its Western Division offices in 1932.

George Kraigher (1891-1984), like Richard Neutra, had been born in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Kraigher was from Slovenia. He was trained as a pilot in the Austro-Hungarian military but in 1915 defected to Italy and, for the rest of World War I, flew for the Serbian air corps. Kraigher immigrated to the US in 1921. Before joining Pan American Airways in 1929, he performed aerial survey and mapping work. During the 1930s, Pan American Airways routed all its overland flights between the US and Latin America through Brownsville. Kraigher was a senior pilot for Pan Am. In 1937, he set what was then a speed record for commercial flights in a journey that began in Brownsville and, over the course of six days, extended as far south as Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, before ending in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kraigher was gregarious and convivial. An accomplished horseman as well as a pilot, he entertained in Brownsville, often arranging for friends to fly in from other Texas and Mexican cities served by Pan Am. Among Kraigher’s colleagues was the pilot Lars H. Kristofferson, whose son, the actor Kris Kristofferson, was born in Brownsville in 1936. When the US entered World War II, Kraigher left Brownsville. During the war, working first for Pan Am, then as a US military officer (eventually attaining the rank of colonel) under the Office of Special Services, Kraigher used his flying skills and geographic knowledge in support of critical military missions. He charted air routes across Africa serving supply lines from the US to the Middle East and India in the early 1940s. In the latter part of the war, he was active in the Balkans organizing and carrying out aerial rescues of downed Allied aviators. Kraigher did not return to Brownsville after the war and sold the house in 1946. He organized air services for Aramco in Saudi Arabia and in the 1950s built a second house designed by Richard Neutra in Litchfield, Connecticut, where he lived until his death in 1984.

Neutra’s design complemented George Kraigher’s sense of adventure. The compact house is two stories high. Flat roofs, horizontal bands of steel sash casement windows, a second-floor roof terrace with metal pipe railing, and planar walls finished with white stucco are identifying modernist characteristics. Neutra offset interior spaces in plan so that all rooms have access to the prevailing southeast breeze. A spacious, L-planned room on the first floor combines living and dining uses. There is a bedroom with separate bathroom and dressing room on the first floor and a bedroom, bath, dressing room, and den on the second floor in addition to the roof terrace. A two-car garage projects off the northwest corner of the house. The house retains its original cabinetry and fixtures. Neutra’s hand is especially visible in the deftly proportioned exterior wall planes, which are sculpturally juxtaposed with overhanging roof fascias to give the small house its dramatic presence. The house is surrounded by vegetation typical of the Lower Río Grande border, the only semi-tropical area in Texas: tall Washingtonia palm trees and low, thorny ebony and mesquite trees. Adjoining the flat site is a resaca, a lagoon-like ox-bow lake. The house was built by the Brownsville contractor A. W. Neck for a contract price of $5,000. The Brownsville architect Frank L. Godwin supervised construction. Neutra did not see the house until a chance visit to Brownsville in 1951. The Kraigher House was published in the May 1939 issue of Architectural Record as “Open-Planned, Window-Walled House in Southwest.” It is also illustrated and discussed in Hines’s book Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture: A Biography and History of 1982.

The Kraigher House was the first house and (following the Magnolia Lounge at the Texas Centennial Exposition of 1936 in Dallas, designed by the New York architect William Lescaze) the second building in Texas built in the International Style of modern architecture. Neutra was the modernist master who had the greatest impact on Texas in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the first modern architects to practice in Texas, Charles Granger of Austin, worked in Neutra’s Los Angeles office in the 1930s. The Kraigher House forecast the role modern architecture would play in re-shaping the Lower Río Grande Valley during the 1950s, when, for the only time in the region’s history, buildings designed by local architects were published in the national architectural press.

The Kraigher House was owned from the 1961 until 1999 by the Brownsville real estate broker and developer Bud Franke and his wife. After the early 1970s, the Franke family ceased living in the house and rented it. By the early 1980s the house began to show signs of lack of maintenance. By 1992 it was windowless and inhabited by tenants who lived there rent-free in order to keep the house from being occupied by vagrants. Efforts by Preservation Brownsville and its founding president, Ambrosio Villarreal, Jr., led to acquisition of the house and two acres of its six-acre site by the City of Brownsville in 1999. The city enclosed the house and fenced it off but never began rehabilitation. In February 2004, Preservation Brownsville and Villarreal were successful in having the house listed by Preservation Texas as one of the most endangered historic sites in the state. Villarreal and Preservation Brownsville were also responsible for nominating the Kraigher House to the National Trust’s most endangered list. Listing prompted the City of Brownsville to negotiate a ninety-nine year lease agreement with the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. In January 2006 the university took possession of the two-acre site and began restoration of the Kraigher House. Dr. Juliet V. García, president of the university, and Dr. José G. Martín, provost, were instrumental in securing the university’s support of this effort.

The restoration of the severely deteriorated house was carried out by Lawrence V. Lof, assistant professor of biology and director of the Gorgas Science Foundation, who is also the university’s rehabilitation projects manager. After overseeing restoration of the Alonzo Building complex, a late nineteenth-century corner store; and another such complex, the Cueto Building, both examples of the border brick style of the lower Río Grande; as well as the J. J. Young House, an imposing Colonial Revival house built in 1910—all for use by various agencies of the university—Lof embarked on the restoration of the Kraigher House with students enrolled in Texas Southmost College’s Historic Rehabilitation Practicum. Restoration work was carried out between early 2006 and 2008.
Article courtesy of Lower Río Grande Valley Chapter, American Institute of Architects
September 2009

George Kraigher House by Architect, Richard Neutra in Brownsville, Texas

Name: George Kraigher House
Architect: Richard Neutra,
with Frank L. Godwin, associate architect
Year Designed: circa 1936
Builder: A. W. Neck
Year Completed: 1937
Size: Unknown
Location: 525 Paredes Line Road, Brownsville Texas
Type: Residential
Style: International Style Modernism
Status: Excellent
Photographed by: Robert McLaughlin

I traveled with my extended family to South Padre Island, Texas between Christmas and New Years Day. While there, we made a side trip to Brownsville, Texas and Matamoris, Mexico, sister cities on either side of the Rio Grande river. At my request we made one stop of architectural interest on this rainy day at a home designed for George Kraigher by California Modern Architect, Richard Neutra. Kraigher was a Pan Am pilot stationed in Brownsville, which in those days was a hub to South America from the US. I jumped out and quickly shot off some photos from the hip while thirteen impatient family members waited in a van. I wish the photos were better, but I had to work with haste and the poor weather conditions of the day. Later, I had to seriously debate whether to give up one of the few sunny days at the beach to make a return trip, but my family vetoed the thought.

This house is special in that it represents a significant success story for the preservation of Modern architecture. In 2004 this house was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the "Eleven Most Endangered Places." The house sat windowless and unoccupied while termites were destroying what remained. Fortunately a few people with some idea that a modern home could be historically significant intervened and convinced the city of Brownsville to purchase the home in 1999. The property was fenced, but no work was done to stabilize the structure. The placement of the house on the 2004 list convinced the city to commit to a 99 year lease to the University of Texas Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The home was restored by the University from 2006 to 2008. I post these photos as a testament to the good work done by the people of Brownsville.

To see larger versions of these photos go to my flickr site.

Palisades Concrete Pier House - Photo of the Week

Name: Palisades Concrete Pier House
Architect: Unknown
(Occupied by the Architect who designed it.)
Year Designed: Unknown
Builder: Unknown
Year Completed: Unknown
Size: Unknown
Location: Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA
(overlooking Sunset Blvd.)
Type: Residential
Style: Brutalist Concrete and Wood Modern
Status: Excellent
Photo by: Robert McLaughlin

This photo has proven to be my most popular image on Flickr, so I thought I would share it with our blog readers. I photographed this house several years back while staying with some friends who lived just a block away. It is only about a half mile from the Eames House. The home was designed by the architect who lives there and it has great views into the canyon and probably the ocean beyond the ridge. The road visible below the house is Sunset Blvd. Click Here to see the front of the house.

When Mid-Century Modern was Green - A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri River Valley by Architect, David B. Runnells - Part 2

Name: A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri Valley - Stuart Williams Residence
Architect: David Benton Runnells
Year Designed: 1949-1950
Builder: Unknown
Year Built: 1950-1952
Size: Unknown
Location: South Kansas City, Missouri
Type: Residential
Style: Modern, Passive solar heating and cooling
Status: Good
Photographer: N/A
Illustrator: Unknown

Scanned from an article, "If You've Too Much Climate Try Climate Control" and "A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri River Valley" in the May 1950 issue of House Beautiful magazine.

When Mid-Century Modern was Green - A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri River Valley by Architect, David B. Runnells - Part 1

Name: A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri Valley - Stuart Williams Residence
Architect: David Benton Runnells
Year Designed: 1949-1950
Builder: Unknown
Year Built: 1950-1952
Size: Unknown
Location: South Kansas City, Missouri
Type: Residential
Style: Modern, Passive solar heating and cooling
Status: Good
Photographer: N/A
Illustrator: Unknown

Scanned from an article, "If You've Too Much Climate Try Climate Control" and "A Climate-Wise House for the Missouri River Valley" in the May 1950 issue of House Beautiful magazine.

Jerad and Jessica Foster's Revere Home

Jerad and Jessica Foster's Revere Home will be one of the eight homes on tour this weekend. They recently won two KC Home Design, design excellence awards, one gold award in the outdoor category and a silver award in the historic preservation category. Congratulations to Jerad and Jessica. We look forward to your home being on the tour!

Revere Homes by David B. Runnells

Name: Revere Home
(part of the Revere Quality House Program sponsored
by the Housing Research Foundation that is part of the
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas)
Architect: David B. Runnells
Year Designed: 1949
Builder: Don Drummond
Year Completed: 1950-1951
Size: Varies
Location: Prairie Village, KS
Type: Residential
Style: Status:
Photographer: Unknown

Fabric House Elevations by Architects, David B. Runnells and Ralph Rapson

Ralph Rapson Quote from Ralph Rapson Rules, Architecture magazine, March 15, 2005

Rapson’s focus on affordable housing predates the Greenbelt project (Arts+Architecture Case Study House No. 4). ”In the 1930s, David Runnells and I designed an earth-sheltered house we called the Cave House. We also entered another competition with a fabric house, where I made an ill-advised comment that no longer would the architect be necessary because people could simply go to the hardware store, buy their fabric, and roll out their house. Charlie Eames was on that jury, and said that we were thrown out of the competition for that particular comment.”
Many thanks to Ralph's son, Toby Rapson and Grandson, Lane Rapson of Rapson Architects for giving us permission to use these images.

For more images like these read, Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design by KCMODERN friend, Jane King Hession.

Fabric House Model by Architects, David B. Runnells and Ralph Rapson

Text taken from the competition presentation:
A Fabric House

Basically this house is and insulated tent, all roofs and walls are insulated fabric panels that allow the utmost flexibility in planning and design. A completely plastic wall such as this “roll fab wall” permits Mr. A., with a wife, two children, and a particular site and living requirements to practically “mold” his house to suit his changing and varied requirements. While on the other hand Mr. B., a professional man with no children, and entirely different living requirements and site, can, just as easily, with the same material, wrap himself in his own individual shelter.

From this it is easily seen that the basic purpose of the roll fabric wall and roof is to
allow absolute and complete planning for infinite human requirements as to construction. The prefabricated roll fabric is placed over a skeleton of light, stamped metal. The structural members are a system of tele-pipe similar to present day airplane sections. A tele-pipe system allows and almost infinite placing of walls and roof.

A mechanical package contains all of the necessary bathroom, kitchen, heating and electrical requirements. Radiant floor heating panels are placed in the floor construction and are completely demountable. Electrical panel boxes, likewise are placed in the floor. The floor is chemically treated tamped earth laid over six inches of crushed rock bed on which any floor covering such as linoleum, canvas, etc., can be laid.

The entire system becomes thus becomes one of maximum planning, maximum economy, maximum demountability.

Fabric House Drawings by Architects, David B. Runnells and Ralph Rapson

About a month ago I received a box of papers and a couple of portfolios from David Runnells daughter, Jill (Runnells) Grose. One of the most interesting things in the box was a hand made bound brochure with canvas fabric pages. Laminated to the pages were 8x10 photos of drawing boards and a model that Ralph Rapson and David Runnells made for a design competition presentation. The project was called the Fabric House and I was already familiar with the project because I had seen it briefly published in a September 1942, Architectural Forum article called "The New House 194X." The tent house project's service core unit (first explored in the cave house) had also been published in Laszlo Maholy-Nagy's book, Vision in Motion. But I was amazed to find this complete competition submission in the neat little fabric booklet. I have scanned the booklet and presented the pages here.

The plan is obviously influenced by the work of Alvar Aalto and is a conscious derivation of the earlier cave house plan. Note the refinements to the service core which now includes a kitchen.

The project is an interesting interpretation of how we might have dealt with the post World War II housing shortage.

Cave House Part 2 by Ralph Rapson and David B. Runnells

Here are a few more Rapson sketches of the Cave House by Ralph Rapson and David B. Runnells. Again we see that great Rapson hand at work. As always in Ralph's perspectives, you have to love the caricatures of people he added to his drawings.

Thanks again to Ralph's son, Toby Rapson and Grandson, Lane Rapson of Rapson Architects for giving us permission to use these images.

For more images like these read, Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design by KCMODERN friend, Jane King Hession.