By Crosby Doe
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I was conditioned to a strong belief in a brave new world—the promise of Tomorrow! Every week, the Sunday Los Angeles Times featured a new modern house on the cover of its magazine and celebrated its clean lines, indoor-outdoor aesthetic and popular use of materials such as cinder block, plywood and steel. Disneyland opened in 1955, reinforcing the message; from 1957–67, its Monsanto House of the Future put the “tomorrow” in Tomorrowland and was viewed by 20 million visitors. Set in the year 1986, its fiberglass shell employed fiberglass components and featured household appliances such as a microwave oven that was not yet commercially available. And if the comfortable homes my friends and I were living in with our families were on the traditional side, then our elementary school was a different kind of place—it was modern. Designed by architect Harold Bissner and opened in 1949, it employed spans of glass to bring in light and an interior sense of the outdoors. Exterior facades displayed clean lines and smooth surfaces, its wide Spruce doors fitted with the latest industrial-grade brass hardware. Every element of the building effectively conveyed the message of modernism to young minds.
Art historians have traced the ideals of modernism as far back as the Renaissance. And the humanist idea that man can improve society through the art and architecture he creates is not new. Yet, there was a particular zeal and enthusiasm to postwar America that suited mid-century Modernism and defined the era. These were boom years and all things were possible. The idea that civilization could create a better world flourished worldwide. In the United States, this impulse was so strong that modernism spread across the continent as an American vernacular. In this issue, we celebrate inspiring mid-century modern architecture for sale in its many forms across the country—from Marcel Breuer’s impeccably maintained Lauck House in Philadelphia, a 3,800-square foot expanse under a butterfly roof, to Bruce Walker’s Ferris house, a 1954 post-and-beam gem in Spokane, Washington. This Spring Issue of Architectureforsale.com Quarterly offers an array of equally inspiring properties which not only illustrate the diversity of the modern aesthetic, but also the sense of hope and possibility it still conveys today.