A spectacular sunshine-filled day in Sacramento was the backdrop for the much anticipated Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour on Saturday, June 26th. Three local, mid-century modern architecture aficionados – Gretchen Steinberg, Dane Henas and Kris Lannin Liang – worked tirelessly to plan the first ever home tour celebrating Sacramento’s vibrant modern
heritage. Upon approach of the registration area at Sacramento Executive Airport the SOLD OUT event clearly had delivered a top-notch publicity campaign. The parking lot was packed and visitors rushed the ticket desks with excitement. There were older folks, kids and young couples lined up ready to receive their information packets and tour maps. Perfectly polished classic and vintage cars were on display at the entrance, as well as high-end new models from area dealerships. New and old Vespas and retro scooters were on site as well. The energy among all the attendees was celebratory and with proud recognition of the style from this nostalgic era (approximately 1935-1965).
The featured 11 homes and 22 points of interest were in five Sacramento neighborhoods: Land Park, South Land Park Terrace, South Land Park Estates, South Land Park Hills and Hollywood Park. 1200 lucky ticket holders respectfully entered the private residences and did their best to hold their jaws from dropping! The homeowners’ sensitivity and attention to authenticity was obvious. The tour’s featured interiors and exteriors capture a time and place some folks only see on archived episodes on TVLand or Hulu.
Carter Sparks is one of the Sacramento area’s most known and celebrated architects from this period; several of the featured homes were his design. Many Davisites have probably heard of him via his work with Streng Brothers Homes in Davis and the greater Sacramento area. Another recognizable name known for mid-century modern (MCM) design and California-lifestlye design is Eichler. Joseph Eichler was a California real estate developer who built an estimated 11,000 homes. He built large residential tracts of affordable, well-designed homes attractive to the post-war, middle-income family. From approximately 1950 to 1969,
Frederick E. Emmons, A. Quincy Jones and Emiel Becsky worked together on several thousand award-winning designs for Eichler Homes. The Sacramento MCM Home Tour planning team has gone to great lengths to educate and highlight the significant contributions of these architects and others- both residential and commercial designs- from our region. There is a definite movement and momentum from individuals, groups, professionals and admirers of MCM style. In fact, if you happen to fall into one of these categories, you may be interested in joining the group Sacramento Modern. Click here for more info! Gretchen, Dane and Kris recently formed this non-profit association – Sacramento Modern – to promote, preserve and protect mid-century modern art, architecture, and design in the Sacramento region. There have been instances where Eichler neighborhoods have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The newly formed non-profit will be addressing ways to protect and encourage preservation of the region’s extensive and diverse MCM heritage. One of their objectives is to discourage destruction of these treasures through education and research – instilling a sense of civic pride and identifying alternatives.
In addition to personal residences included on the tour, several recognizable buildings, businesses and churches were also featured. For example, the curvilinear structures at the entrance of the Sacramento Zoo and the zig-zag roofline with raised plate glass windows of Vic’s Market (originally Jumbo Market) on South Land Park Drive were points of interest on the tour.
Also included on the tour were the quintessential MCM buildings along Freeport Boulevard: Hollywood Hardware, Mahoroba Japanese Bakery (formerly MacFarlane’s Candies), the circular building of Chase Bank (previously Senator Savings & Loan) and Land Park Ski & Sports’ “modern chalet” (originally Woody’s Smorgasburger). Each of these buildings represent the architectural style of the MCM era.
If you live in a MCM design home and need to do some updating or “authenticating”, the Sacramento area has a wide offering of retailers and, of course, there are plenty of online resources to browse. There’s Googie Time on Madison Avenue, Schmitt Design on 13th Avenue (by appointment only), Lumens Light and Living on K Street, Design Within Reach in Berkeley and Atomic Ranch dot com.
If you’re hungry for more modern design inspiration and don’t have an excursion to an iconic MCM-destination such as Palm Springs or Las Vegas on the books, check out these websites: you’ll love Curtis Popp’s design aesthetic at Popp Interior Architecture , Jaime Derringer at Design Milk and the well-known and loved website and magazine, Dwell.
Kudos to Gretchen, Dane and Kris for their amazing efforts to bring this genre of architecture and regional history to the forefront! Be sure to visit the Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour blog to read follow ups and news updates to their Sacramento Modern network! We can’t wait till next year! …..Please say there’s a second annual tour in the works!
Check back here at my Welcome Home blog where I’ll be posting the history and photos of Streng homes right here in Davis!
Special thanks to John DiDomenico and the Sacramento MCM Home Tour for permission to use John’s professional photographs from the tour. You can view more of John’s work on Flickr.
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