Santa Clara is a great place to find MCM.
It doesn’t have Eichler single-family homes but does have two of his townhouse developments, at the corner of Benton and Pomeroy. There’s a co-op called Pomeroy Green with 4-bedroom/2.5-bath two-story townhouses of 1564, 1570 and 1600 sq.ft. Apparently the co-op status makes finding a lender a challenge. Although this form of ownership is unusual in this area, two other townhome developments near Pomeroy Green, also built in the early ’60s, are also co-ops. Next door to Pomeroy Green is a conventional townhouse development, Pomeroy West, also with a 4/2.5 of 1476 but also offering very unusual one-story atrium townhomes of 1325, 1535 and 1550 sq.ft. as well as a handful of 2-bedroom/1-baths of 947 sq.ft. I’m told, although I can’t verify, that Pomeroy West went into receivership during or just after it was built, and that it was initially a rental community.
But the real leading light of Santa Clara’s MCM scene is the same John Mackay who left his mark on South Palo Alto. Mackay built so many contemporaries here in 1954 and 1955 that his name is local shorthand for “contemporary”, much as “Eichler” is further north.
His Maywood is an attractive development of about 267 homes in the southwest corner of Santa Clara, their desirability greatly enhanced by sought-after Cupertino schools. These homes are similar in size and quality to what Mackay was building in South Palo Alto. I’ve seen the original sales literature and they’re designed by the same Anshen + Allen who did many of Eichler’s developments. The most common model by far, a 3/2 of 1240 sq.ft., even has the Eichler-esque radiant heating. There’s also an economy 3/2 of 1024 sq.ft. with wall heaters, soon bumped out to 1104 sq.ft., and an intermediate 3/2 of 1127 sq.ft. with radiant. In 1955 Mackay replaced the 1240 with a 1260 on perimeter foundation that featured central forced air. The last handful of Maywood contemporaries, built in 1956, were bigger (1218 and 1360 sq.ft) and all were on raised perimeter foundation, with forced air heating and hardwood floors.
But what really populated Santa Clara with contemporaries are the 3/2s a builder named McKeller constructed in three major projects totaling well over 600 homes: Sun Glo Estates, Homestead Estates and Golden State, and no, these names won’t be on a test. Built in 1954, every one is 1166 sq.ft. and their appearance doesn’t seem to vary much more than their size. They offer what most buyers think of as the fundamentals of a “real house”—second bath, two-car garage, central forced-air heat—and they’re on slab.
Even more basic are The World’s Smallest Four-bedroom Homes, the 118 MCMs of Beverley Wood, built a year earlier At either 1092 or 1127 sq.ft., they’re smaller than most three-bedroom homes, and they offer just a one-car garage and inexpensive wall heaters. Putting so many bedrooms into so little space doesn’t leave room for much else, and it’s not surprising that homeowners have sometimes converted one of the bedrooms into a dining room.
Yet another sizeable flattop project (about 175 homes) is the no-frills Scott Lane Gardens, east of El Camino, built in 1954. These are of the “small and cheap” variety, 3/1s of only 985 sq.ft., with one-car garage, slab and wall heater. There’s a smaller second phase of 1064 sq.ft. homes offering a second bath and two-car garage.
Finally, just to give you an idea of what a great place Santa Clara is for MCM, I’ll round out the scene with a list of the many small- or medium-size developments that are partially or entirely MCM. I’ll give you their tract names, but I’ll also give you something far more useful, the names of the streets where you can find them. Almost all were built between 1953 and 1956, all are small simple homes unless expanded and updated. Some are on slab, others on raised perimeter foundation. Some have hardwood floors, some don’t. Almost all have three bedrooms; some have two baths, others one. All differ from each other in appearance, but almost all have the stiffer, boxier appearance that non-architect designed contemporaries often have. Once inside, however, all offer the openness that MCM is known for.
Beverley Wood (noted above) also has small 3-br/2-ba homes. Found on Barto, Flannery, Stevenson, Woodhams and Dibble.
Westwood: Built by David Bohannon, a big developer known for his tasteful but conservative designs. As far as I know, these are the only MCM he built. Pruneridge, Fosgate, Giannini.
Northgate: Scanlan, Hart, Garner.
Castlebrook Terrace: Sonoma, Crowley, Benton (but there are also McKellars on Benton), Wallace, Morton.
Santa Clara Gardens: MCM on the inside, with vaulted ceilings throughout, but conventional rancher on the outside. Franck, Oswald, Higgins, Ravizza, Warburton. Similar homes can be found in Sunnyvale on W. McKinley, which suggests that these were built by T.J. Martin, another big developer.
Hermosa Gardens: Flannery, Hamilton.
Westclair: Los Padres, Clara Vista, San Miguel, Los Olivos.
El Camino Homes: Thompson, Vargas, Castro.
The discussion continues at Eichler City on Pinterest, with over a zillion MCM- and Midcentury-related photos and descriptions. See photos of typical Santa Clara Midcentury Modern plus MCM icons around the world as well as lesser-known homes, architects and builders and even a few oddities. Also check out Eichler City on Facebook.
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copyright © John Fyten 2004-16