A Very Brady Question
December 19, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I want to know more about Brady Bunch-era American house designs.

I have always been fascinated by circa 1960s American residential archictecture. The Dallas-area neighborhood in which I was raised had a bizarre mix of split-levels and ranch styles with native and non-native stonework, balconies, overhangs, fountains and water features. Each house made a bold, if not exactly timeless, design statement. I'd like to know what inspired this form of design and what led to its demise. Any online resources?
posted by punkfloyd to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This website focuses on mid-century modern homes in Phoenix. It has some good links to articles about the local architects of the era, in addition to plenty of pictures.
posted by mullacc at 8:03 AM on December 19, 2007

Response by poster: Now that's what I'm talking about! Nice resource mullacc! Seems this was unique to south and soutwest U.S.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:07 AM on December 19, 2007

For what it's worth, the house they used for the exterior shots of the Brady house was a ranch house. They hung a fake window on the outside to make it appear to have two stories.
posted by Lucinda at 8:09 AM on December 19, 2007

You might also be interested in the the developments of Joseph Eichler. The houses he built were decidedly more modern, bold, and in my opinion, more timeless than any other residential development ever built.

Books you might want to take a look at: Atomic Ranch and Palm Springs Weekend: the Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis.

These houses took a little bit of inspiration from modernist greats such as John Lautner and the architects of the Case Study Houses. I guess they could be called watered down versions of space age architecture and modernist styling combined with the bland nature of mass produced suburban housing.

Why did this style die out? My guess would be that over time, there was more money to be gained from building stuccoed mini-McMansions that reeked of homogeneity. But there is quite a large number of people that are keeping this "style" alive, such as those behind the Eichler Network.

I wouldn't say that the style is totally unique to south and southwest U.S.- there are quite a few similar housing tracts in northern California, and sometimes in places you wouldn't expect like Denver and Seattle.
posted by agenais at 8:42 AM on December 19, 2007

There's a great House Style Picture Dictionary at about.com. The individual entries themselves are pretty high-level, but there are links and such to further details on many of them.
posted by jquinby at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, the house they used for the exterior shots of the Brady house was a ranch house. They hung a fake window on the outside to make it appear to have two stories.

[nitpick] Having seen the house in question (it's not far from where I live, which of course excited me ridiculously when I discovered this), it's a split level, not a ranch. But the bit about the fake window is true. [/nitpick]

posted by scody at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2007

A sizeable number of of Eichler ripoffs -- "Rummer homes," named for the developer -- were built in and around Portland, Oregon in the 50's and 60's. Here's the story, and here's the real estate agent you need to know if you'd like to buy one.
posted by diastematic at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2007

The book Ranches, Railroad Houses and Railroad Flats talks about the interaction between culture, environment, economy and social changes and how they influence the American home. It does cover the development of the ranch and split-level houses.
posted by buttercup at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2007

Here is Flickr photoset of some cool mid century modern houses in Daly City, right outside of San Francisco, with a link to additional info.
posted by lisaici at 7:38 PM on December 19, 2007

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