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Atomic Ranches Mid Century Moderns


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I have some great photos of old atomic ranches and mid-century moderns in Glenbrook Valley, at www.glenbrookvalley.com. 

There will be more newspaper clippings on the site as soon as I can get a few bugs worked out.

Link to Photo Gallery

(added link)

A few years ago, I thought Atomic Ranches where scientific facilities... :unsure:

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The sections right off of Santa Elena are the nicest. Both East and farther West off of De Leon.

The one on the corner of Santa Elena & Glen Dell was built by the original owners of Princes' Drive inn, a must see, also the round fronted ranch at Glen Forest & Santa Elena is also very cool, built by the Montalbanos that own the lumber company of the same name.

There is a really good one for sale on Stony Dell for $165k.

The row of them along Glenview were on the Parade of Homes in 1954. 7923 Glenview was on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens in 1954 & was given away as a prize for the parade of Homes. 7919 doesn't look that interesting from the street, but the rear facade overlooking the ravines is incredible. The one with the for sale sign in sad shape at 7927 is vacant. You can walk around it (and see the back of 7919 from the driveway). Nevermind the old car in the driveway. That house was $50k in 1954, which was a huge amount of money back then. I found a newspaper clipping on it:

"...Dream Home - Next door to the prize home at 7927 Glenview Dr. is a $50,000 luxury model built by Ralph Lowe. It is a contemporary design of brick and shakes and probably features more electrical devices than any other home in the Houston area. A real dream house, it has three bedrooms, three baths, stainless steel kitchen, swimming pool with a bath house and bath, radio and speaker systems, separate light and control system, recessed lighting and a circular driveway.

Lowe features the garage, which is built to double as a party room. It is air conditioned, insulated, has aluminum windows and a slick floor for dancing, an 18 foot radio controlled door and piped in music.

The home is equipped with recipitron, a device that eliminates all odors, It also has a dishwasher, disposal, built-in range, washer and dryer, deep freeze and drinking fountain."

I have been in that one, it has been ragged out as of late, but if you know anybody looking, I think they could get it for a good price and restore it. the last I heard the investor that has it now was going to fix it up some and put it on the market for $149k range.

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Take me to your recipitron.

Those mid century names are great! I would love to see all those gadgets.

I visited an open house this weekend in southwest Houston from 1963 that was built by SPACE COMMAND HOMES and I believe the architect was Wooten.

The Parade of Homes in Houston was proclaimed the biggest and best home show in the nation at the time. It was a testing ground for housing desires and trends. Life magazine was involved and survey results were presented at the National Home Builders conventions.

These are the locations of the Parade of Homes houses for the first ten years:

1952 Edgewood- 32 houses

1953 Oak Forest- 30 houses

1954 City Wide- 32 houses

1955 Meyerland- 30 houses on Jackwood St.

1956 Glenbrook Valley- 30 houses

1957 Briarmeadow- 26 houses

1958 Sharpstown- 32 houses

1959 Westbury- 35 houses

1960 Walnut Bend- 31 houses on Olimpia

1961 Briargrove Park- 29 houses on Briarpark & Burgoyne

Do you have any information on the architects of the Glenbrook Valley homes?

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Take me to your recipitron.

Those mid century names are great!  I would love to see all those gadgets.

I visited an open house this weekend in southwest Houston from 1963 that was built by SPACE COMMAND HOMES and I believe the architect was Wooten.

The Parade of Homes in Houston was proclaimed the biggest and best home show in the nation at the time.  It was a testing ground for housing desires and trends.  Life magazine was involved and survey results were presented at the National Home Builders conventions.

These are the locations of the Parade of Homes houses for the first ten years: 

1952  Edgewood-  32 houses

1953  Oak Forest-  30 houses

1954  City Wide-  32 houses

1955  Meyerland-  30 houses on Jackwood St.

1956  Glenbrook Valley-  30 houses on Glenview

1957  Briarmeadow-  26 houses

1958  Sharpstown-  32 houses

1959  Westbury-  35 houses

1960  Walnut Bend-  31 houses on Olimpia

1961  Briargrove Park-  29 houses on Briarpark & Burgoyne

Do you have any information on the architects of the Glenbrook Valley homes?

that is the million dollar question! As expensive as they were in the day, and as high drama as many of them are, I would expect there would be some known architects. I only have found two names so far in my search. One was Crochet & Carroll. I am still digging. There are some new clippings on the resident history page that were posted this afternoon. The parade of Homes on Glenview was 1954, the 1956 I believe was on Cayton Street. Thats what the "old timers" in the neighborhood have told me. I am still trying to dig up a 1956 brochure from one of them. One of the parade homes was recently for sale, selling this past September. on the photo page it is the 3rd row far right. Fantastic all original mod. That one I am the most eager to find the architect on. I know the builder, but that is all.

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I checked on the internet and learned that William N. Floyd did a lot of that style house in Houston in the 50s, but it appears his work is mostly in Memorial Bend. I ran across some more info about Floyd and his work in Houston and am posting in the Memorial area section.

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I checked on the internet and learned that William N. Floyd did a lot of that style house in Houston in the 50s, but it appears his work is mostly in Memorial Bend. I ran across some more info about Floyd and his work in Houston and am posting in the Memorial area section.

He did a lot in Memorial Bend, various parts of Memorial and a think a couple in Robindell, or maybe that was William R. Jenkins. I don't think either Floyd or Jenkins did any in Glenbrook, I could be wrong.

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1952  Edgewood-  32 houses

1953  Oak Forest-  30 houses

1954  City Wide-  32 houses

1955  Meyerland-  30 houses on Jackwood St.

1956  Glenbrook Valley-  30 houses on Glenview

1957  Briarmeadow-  26 houses

1958  Sharpstown-  32 houses

1959  Westbury-  35 houses

1960  Walnut Bend-  31 houses on Olimpia

1961  Briargrove Park-  29 houses on Briarpark & Burgoyne

Okay....so what exactly is the Parade of Homes....various marketing materials concerning specified number of houses in the afforementioned areas? Where could one see old printed materials on said homes in said parade?

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Okay....so what exactly is the Parade of Homes....various marketing materials concerning specified number of houses in the afforementioned areas?  Where could one see old printed materials on said homes in said parade?

go to www.glenbrookvalley.com and under nieghborhood history there is some material, but there will be more to come as I find it. I am still trying to get some of the old folks to dig up their brochures from the '56 parade.

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Parade of Homes information can be found in the newspaper films at the main library downtown on the ground floor. The Parade was held in early summer so start with the May spool of the year you are interested in. Look mainly in the business section and the Sunday home section. Bring several rolls of quarters to make copies. It often takes four or six quarters to copy just one page of the newspaper. (They charge for parking too.) Houston had three newspapers then so this research is very time consuming. I usually find the name of the architect or designer but one must look carefully as there are many tiny articles scattered around the pages. Everytime I go there to research, I seem to go back in time, like in a trance, living in those optimistic times. Unfortunately, the home builders association in Houston has no information on the Parades. I have talked to builders of the Parade homes and they also know of no other sources of printed information.

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Parade of Homes information can be found in the newspaper films at the main library downtown on the ground floor.  The Parade was held in early summer so start with the May spool of the year you are interested in.  Look mainly in the business section and the Sunday home section.  Bring several rolls of quarters to make copies.  It often takes four or six quarters to copy just one page of the newspaper.  (They charge for parking too.) Houston had three newspapers then so this research is very time consuming.  I usually find the name of the architect or designer but one must look carefully as there are many tiny articles scattered around the pages.  Everytime I go there to research, I seem to go back in time, like in a trance, living in those optimistic times.  Unfortunately, the home builders association in Houston has no information on the Parades.  I have talked to builders of the Parade homes and they also know of no other sources of printed information.

yes it is a time-consuming task. I will have to make some more trips to the library and keep digging. The one parade home architect I did find, Crochet & Carroll, was listed on a furniture store ad, not in any of the articles on the parade itself. There are a few more clippings they will get posted on Monday. Hopefully I will be able to find some more info on future trips.

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Floyd did around 500 houses in Houston and was involved in the Parade of Homes for 5-6 years. Robindell was partially developed by him and his company, the Robindell Lumber Company. During the time, two of his draftsmen were Harwood Taylor and William R. Jenkins. While he did design about 75 houses in Memorial Bend, you'll find plenty of his work around town. I'm still digging to see what I can find out about his other houses.

About A. Carroll Brodnax, you'll see him mentioned throughout the 50s in the old real estate sections. He designed quite a few modern commercial and residential buildings. I'm still not sure if he did anything in Memorial Bend but I do know he designed the first house in nearby Memorial Plaza (across Memorial Drive). I believe he also worked with Lars Bang and Lucian Hood when they were all getting their careers started.

This article shows the Brodnax house in Memorial Plaza:

http://users.ev1.net/~michaelb/bend/mp_hcart1.jpg

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On the web-site, www.glenbrookvalley.com , there is a page added with copies of a 1954 Better Homes and Gardens article on their "home for all America." this home was built in Glenbrook, (along with the same house being built in 37+ states), it's a fun article under the last tab on the site.

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IMG_0038.jpgIMG_0037.jpgIMG_0088.jpg

This is a great California Contemporary available in Glenbrook. It is not all that modern, but has some great 50's features. I am hoping someone buys it who won't do a bad remuddle on it. Its all original, and sits on a small hill. If you notice on the first photo how far below the car on the street is from the house. It has the dropped celings in the formals, and these very cool suspended cabinets in the kitchen, which opens onto this monster den. The entry is paneled in teak. Its at 8114 Stony Dell.

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This is a great California Contemporary available in Glenbrook.  It is not all that modern, but has some great 50's features.  I am hoping someone buys it who won't do a bad remuddle on it.  Its all original, and sits on a small hill.  If you notice on the first photo how far below the car on the street is from the house.  It has the dropped celings in the formals, and these very cool suspended cabinets in the kitchen, which opens onto this monster den.  The entry is paneled in teak.  Its at 8114 Stony Dell.

That's a really neat house....too bad its 3,300 sqft...if it was nearer to 2k, and priced lower, I might buy it. Unfortunately, at that size and price range, I see a family (or several) of Mexicans in its future. Bad tilework, big iron fence out front, and pink and teal trim, here we come!!

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277e7b40.jpg

It would kill me to see that happen to that house on Stony Dell. It is really cool. This one is also for sale, but NOT on MLS. I am also concerned for its future. The investor from Arizona bought it.

Anyway, this is one of the original 1954 Parade houses mentioned in the articles and "The Heart of the Lowe's Electric Home" advertisement. The one with the garage that is air-conditioned, insulated, and originally had a slick floor for dancing so it could double as a party room. Don't forget the Recipitron device it mentioned having either! It has a pool with the old aqua tile and a poured terrazzo back patio. The entry and den have inlaid wood floors and thick planks of paneling on the walls. the bathrooms were real unusual too. There are two mirror image baths in the hall that interconnect, each with huge walk in showers with a little teak built in bench right beside them. Pink and blue tile, et al. Plus a bath in the master and a half bath outside by the pool. Supposedly he is asking $139,900 for this one at 7927 Glenview.

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It would kill me to see that happen to that house on Stony Dell.  It is really cool.  This one is also for sale, but NOT on MLS.  I am also concerned for its future.  The investor from Arizona bought it.

The investor? Who? He only wants 139k for it? Not bad....and its not the sprawling monstrosity that the other house is.

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The investor?  Who?  He only wants 139k for it?  Not bad....and its not the sprawling monstrosity that the other house is.

I called on it today. Its 2300 - 2400 sf. It needs a lot of work. that price is including some repairs. If someone moved earlier and did more things themselves, it could probably be bought for considerably less.

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What kind of work does it need?  I'm looking for something to fix up....

I'm no inspector, so take this with a grain of salt. It looks like the foundation was basically solid, with the possible exception of one side of the garage that might have some settling. In which case that would be not that big a deal. Complete interior and exterior paint job. Some minor sheetrock. The master bath had a bad shower enclosure put up that needs to be removed. She put up cheap panelling in the formals that needs to be pulled down. The front doors are these two big fine panelled doors, they look like something that belong on some big law firm's conference room for lack of a better description, they are missing all the hardware, and the exterior of the doors has been messed up by dogs. The yard is a mess, in the kitchen they put down new tile floors and started putting it on the counters. Lets just say that needs correction, along with appliances I imagine. The cabinets are very cool, slanted, mod style. The house has just been abused and needs all the cosmetics. They also added some tacked on storage under the eaves on the back of the garage that I would just tear off. A lot of the light switches are broken. The lady that was moving out explained to me that she used to "get mad" and hit them and broke them. Hmmm...ever heard of prozac? In its present condition I think it could be bought for less than asking. The pool needs a new sidewalk, lighting, probably resurfacing, but it doesn't look like it is "popping" or anything. The lot is great, the block is nice. It is vacant now.

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cb6262d0.jpg

Here is the back yard with the poured terrazzo patio. Cleaned up this could look like the height of 50's glamour. Poor thing, it has seen better days. you really have to have some imagination to see the 50's dream home described in the 1954 articles. But with some work someone could bring it back.

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She got mad at the pool ladder too!

I like the roof especially. It looks like it is still the correct built-up gravel topped roof. My mother, who never seems to notice much architecturally, surprized me the other day when she brought up that she does not like the composition shingles on the low pitched roofs. The built-up type looks much better.

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I like the roof especially.  It looks like it is still the correct built-up gravel topped roof.  My mother, who never seems to notice much architecturally, surprized me the other day when she brought up that she does not like the composition shingles on the low pitched roofs. The built-up type looks much better.

So is that the common term for that type of roof? I've always called it a tar and gravel roof...but I'm not an architect nor a roofer. Also, while we're on the subject, I was wondering what the replacement cost and typical lifespan of that type of roof is....

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I'm like you, I am neither an architect or a roofer, but I think they have a very long life. I do know that if you see "bubbles" in the roofing that usually indicates it is nearing time for an overhaul.

FYI- I posted this under Houston Mod, but I got the '56 Parade of Homes Brochure downloaded on the site.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
here are some interior shots of the "recipitron" house.  It has some pretty cool woodwork & tile.  IMG_0180.jpgIMG_0181.jpgIMG_0189.jpgIMG_0192.jpg

The guy that bought this "recipitron" house has finally done all the damage he is going to do on redoing it. He has it open on the weekends now Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately they took out the great vintage mod kitchen cabinets and put some crap back in, same with the master bath. The hall bath was left alone though. 7927 Glenview if anyone wants to look at it.

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The guy that bought this "recipitron" house has finally done all the damage he is going to do on redoing it.  He has it open on the weekends now Saturday and Sunday.  Unfortunately they took out the great vintage mod kitchen cabinets and put some crap back in, same with the master bath.  The hall bath was left alone though.  7927 Glenview if anyone wants to look at it.

We should all trapse through and comment how we'd all LOVE to buy it if only it had more of the original details. That'd make him think twice before tearing up another mod. :D

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Guest danax
We should all trapse through and comment how we'd all LOVE to buy it if only it had more of the original details.  That'd make him think twice before tearing up another mod.  :D

Kitchens don't last long. I was driving down Pasadena St. in Forest Hill this morning and spotted some glass cabinets lying in a pile by the street. The doors appeared to be handmade with glass inserts, probably from the 40s-50s. The guy comes out and told me bought it to either flip it or rent it and it "was getting a new kitchen".

That's it, not much of a story but it bothers me to see investors come in a do permanent damage.

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I peeked into a vacant house in our neighborhood, Memorial Bend, earlier today.  The house - a pretty basic late 50s mock tudor - had a beeeautiful aqua oven - looked like it was in perfect shape.  I need to find a way to get to it.

Is the house on the market? I can see when it is proposed to close.

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  • 5 months later...
That's a really neat house....too bad its 3,300 sqft...if it was nearer to 2k, and priced lower, I might buy it. Unfortunately, at that size and price range, I see a family (or several) of Mexicans in its future. Bad tilework, big iron fence out front, and pink and teal trim, here we come!!

I think there has been a happy ending for these houses. They seemed to land in the hands of people who are taking care of them. :)

The big California contemporary was bought by a two guys, one of which is an HISD administrator I think. Another mod by A. Carroll Brodnax on the same street was bought by a couple of guys also, one is Chiropractor. In both cases the houses are getting some much needed attention. The "recipitron" house finally closed. It looks like a nice couple bought it that were out working like mad on the yard and trying to get the house in shape.

A couple of other mod houses have sold to mod enthusiasts also, so it looks like finally more of these grand old mods will be salvaged. The outlook seems a lot brighter than last year anyway.

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  • The title was changed to Atomic Ranches Mid Century Moderns

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