McCall’s Book of Modern Houses – 1951 mid-century modernism
Alistair McLean
Category: Books

Alistair: Posted on Sunday, 14 August 2011 10:13 PM

I recently stumbled across a wonderful book which was published in 1951, by Simon and Shuster called McCall’s Book of Modern Houses. This book contains a collection of wonderful mid-century modern houses that were first published in McCall’s Magazine, and which were designed by a number of different architectural firms from across America.

What is so refreshing about these houses is that there are no historicist references that plagues American suburbia today.  Most of the houses are comparatively humble by today’s standards and were designed to be affordable and accessible for the average family.

The book has plans, elevations, models and photos of 29 different houses, with many glorious colour pictures showing external colour schemes and interior shots.  Most of the interiors are furnished with many mid-century classics that are easily recognised, and which are still as appealing today as they were when these houses were furnished.  I suppose as a designer this is one of the things that excites my passion for mid-century modernism is the timelessness of many of the designs.

I also have a reprinted edition of Elizabeth A.T. Smith’s “Case Study Houses”, which was reprinted by Taschen for its 25th Anniversary, and is still available from Amazon, when I last looked.  However, even though “Case Study Houses” is considered a classic, I prefer   McCall’s Book of Modern Houses, due to the extra detail and the glorious colour.

I have decided to share this treasure, as it is not easy to get, so I will publish one of the houses on this blog every now and again, when I have a bit of time to scan the pages.

Naturally I will credit the original architects and reprint each house in full, however as it is over sixty years since these houses were designed I would be surprised if any of them are still in business!

The first house I would like to share with you is a surprisingly modest two-bedroom home with a double skillion (or shed) roof, which was a hallmark of many of these homes.  It was designed by E.H and M.K Hunter, of the Musgrove Building, Hanover, New Hampshire.