Houses Built After 1940's Have No Soul

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whoa! Before you decide to lynch me, let me explain the title. This was posted on a comment list from a popular TV renovator. I believe it was an innocent comment, one made to show how much they loved the work that was done, but the comment made me stop and think.

http://retrorenovation.com/2010/12/06/cupolas-a-classic-architectural-feature-for-1950s-houses/


After 1940? Really? I mean I get the whole mass production and building frenzy of Post WWII America. I just happen to live in one of those ranch style homes. I'm surrounded by them. But no soul? Every house has a soul. It comes from the people who live there who make it what it is. It's like looking at an early New England house that has had tons of additions, creating the quirks (and sometimes problems) that go along with it. The changes were made by the people who lived there. They made the house what they needed and individualized it themselves. That was what adds the soul.

Remember that by the 1950's the world was very different than it had been just 10 years before. The 1940's was the aftermath of the Great Depression. People were still learning how to survive when we were plunged back into war in 1941. Those survival skills were in full force and the housing market dropped because so many of our people were fighting the war and the ones left behind were supplying the war effort. By the end of the 1940's, America was starting to once again spread it's wings and breath a sigh of relief. Many of those that fought came back and started families. And those families needed a place to live. Places like Leavitttown, Pennsylvania were at the forefront of rebuilding the American dream. The homes were commercialized as idyllic places to raise a family and sit back in your chair with a pipe, while mom was making dinner in the kitchen like Leave It to Beaver.

1950-1960's homes are popularized by their Mid-Century styling. Everything was idyllic and streamlined, even at times... influenced by Space. While there were some definite pushes at mass production of homes before that, it wasn't until the rise of production and manufacturing processes for them to be put into effect efficiently.

As someone that is interested in renovation I try to look at the story of the house. Some of them are more quiet and refined and others, like people, just need a little TLC to bring out their wild side.


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