Classic Modern Homes of the Thirties: 64 Designs by Neutra, Gropius, Breuer, Stone and Others by James Ford, Katherine Morrow Ford | | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Classic Modern Homes of the Thirties: 64 Designs by Neutra, Gropius, Breuer, Stone and Others

Classic Modern Homes of the Thirties: 64 Designs by Neutra, Gropius, Breuer, Stone and Others

by James Ford, Katherine Morrow Ford

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Splendid pictorial record of architectural style strongly influenced by Bauhaus movement. Over 300 illustrations show interiors, exteriors. Details on construction, site, cost, more.


Splendid pictorial record of architectural style strongly influenced by Bauhaus movement. Over 300 illustrations show interiors, exteriors. Details on construction, site, cost, more.

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Dover Publications
Publication date:
Dover Architecture Series
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Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 12.28(h) x 0.45(d)

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64 designs by Neutra, Gropius, Breuer, Stone, and others


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1989 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13861-9



Family Composition. Young couple. Fond of outdoor living.

Site. Level lot. Filled ground. Particular problem was the street, which loops around 3 sides of the lot. Privacy dependent on planting.

Construction. 8" x 8" posts, 8' on centers in living room, anchored to foundation by steel straps to act as vertical cantilevers for resistance against earthquake stresses. This allows great openness without sacrifice of stability.

Exterior. Walls: cream stucco. Roof: gravel surfaced cap-sheet. Trim: salmon colored redwood. Sash and doors salmon sugar pine. Blinds: natural white cedar. Celotex insulation.

Interior. Woodwork: white pine. Living room-dining room ceiling continues through windows to form overhang. Suspended plaster panel 14' wide over fireplace conceals outlets of air-conditioning equipment, circulating fireplace heater grills, and lights.

Cost. $6,970, including 12' × 22' swimming pool, large paved areas for terraces, outdoor barbecue, semi-airconditioning.

Special Features. All rooms have 8' wide doorways to individual gardens. Living room has two 8' sliding doors, giving a 16' opening. Roof overhang of bedroom continues into pergola which crosses pool. The smaller bedroom used as a guest room can be shut off from main part of house.


Family Composition and Requirements. Family of two adults and two babies; one maid. Provision of seven generous-sized rooms, all with gardens, complete privacy from street and neighbors, on a small inside lot—50' × 135'. Only one room (parents') to be on an upper floor; to provide a den with separate entry, that could be used for a while by children's nurse. All rooms to be accessible from central entry. Living room garden to be separated from children's rooms, but view of children's garden from living room desired.

Site. Level lot. Tract restrictions required that house "face" the street. Opening the den windows toward street was accepted as compliance with this ruling. However, the den also has clerestory windows over garage.

Construction. Post framing, 4" x 4" posts, 4' o.c. (except 8' on centers in living room glass wall). Solid diagonal sheathing under stucco. Cement hearth runs full length of living room, from cement entry floor (on level of exterior cement walk) to cement landing overlooking children's patio.

Exterior. Living room and bedrooms open out on paved terraces at floor level. Parents' bedroom on second floor has a large planted balcony—pergola over.

Interior. Children's rooms have wood paneled walls. Entire south walls of glass, partly in the form of clerestory transoms over a 4' roof canopy. Windows in passage are over entrance walk canopy, for privacy.

Cost. $9,250, including water softener, built-in bookcases and paneled alcove.


Family Composition. Young single woman.

Site. Extremely steep, on filled ground.

Construction. Rigidly braced 4" x 4" posts, 4' on centers. Stucco on metal lath.

Exterior. Stucco. Main windows do not face street or adjacent property. Large window on south looks over adjacent lot, considerably lower.

Interior. Walls: natural finish white pine plywood. 4' unit system for use of insulite ceilings. Drawers and cupboards in kitchen open also into dinette. Concealed lights in top of bookcase, which is 16' long screening entry from living room.

Cost. $4,900, including cost of 18'-20' concrete caisson foundation down to solid ground.

Special Features. "Tract restrictions demanded a sloping roof, which was exposed inside. The hollow hipped shell (ceiling) includes pergolas over entry porch and living room deck."


Family Composition and Requirements. Home for architect, wife and child. Built also as research problem on structural and esthetic problems of modern architecture.

Site. Privacy assured on south and west. Woods on west shade windows in summer. Birch trees featured in views from interior.

Construction. Balloon frame on modular basis of 3'-3½' openings. Fir boarding on exterior. One large plate glass window. Plywood under floors with carpet or linoleum finish. Steel sash. Completely dry-constructed (except foundation and chimney). Designed for standard wallboard sizes.

Exterior. Vertical fir boarding, treated with specially developed penetrating preservative.

Interior. Absence of apparent joint between wallboards in principal rooms accomplished by placing of fenestration and large sheets of wallboard; taped ceiling joints. All wallboard glued, no battens used thus giving effect of solidity usually only obtainable in plaster.

Special Features. Effort to extend modern open planning to a fresher variety of spatial effect, not only bringing in sun and landscape, but also providing enclosed areas to fit varying moods. House framed with continuous floor beams, resting on dropped girts which do not show on inside due to variation of room heights or concealing in closets. All plumbing fixtures on one wall. Absence of floor lamps or lighting fixtures in principal rooms. Designed for minimum cost per room and maximum utilization of amenities of site, using modern architecture as a freedom from patterns to bring garden into house and provide second floor garden terrace. Flexible use of building by combining guest room with owner's sitting room. Laundry combined with maid's bath, providing another multi- purpose room.

(See page 23)

Table designed by architect to seat 8 persons, overcoming problems of grouping couples. Kitchen wall back of table insulated against sound penetration by extra layer of masonite presdwood glued to a layer of homosote.

Alcove designed as "cozy" reading and conversational area, with fireplace at ideal distance from sofa. Lighting (both natural and artificial) eliminates reflections and eyestrain. Fluorescent reading lights under bottom bookshelf provide artificial light equal to natural.

Dining space window, showing modular construction which extends throughout wall surfaces whether glazed or solid. Venetian blinds in pockets.

Ventilation at bottom of window to mix fresh air with preheated air conditioning system. Curtain of heat prevents drafts from glass area and protects plants on stone plant shelf. Window extends above ceiling to add to sense of openness to landscape, providing also concealed curtain rods and venetian blinds.


Family Composition. Man, wife, children, two servants.

Site. On north side of "Long Hill." House is placed along existing private road. Since it is primarily a summer residence the clients wished to favor the view which is to the north, rather than the southerly exposure. Dining room oriented for morning sun; living room for sun all day.

Construction. Wood frame. 2 × 4 studs, clapboards, wood sheathing inside.

Exterior. Main block of house is barn red; one-story wing dark brown; both have white trim at windows and doors.

Interior. Entire house finished in wood. Living and dining rooms sheathed in wide birch boards. The former, including hall, has grey blue ceiling; the latter, dull vermilion. Bathrooms plastered and painted. Service portions have painted plywood walls; the rest of house has pine sheathing, stained and waxed.

Cost. 37¢ per cubic foot including all casework in kitchen and pantry, bookcase in living room. Economical feature is central bearing partition.


Family Composition. Man, wife, two children, two servants. House primarily for summer use.

Site. Lot on a point at ocean's edge. Plan is result of effort to have all rooms face view, sun, and prevailing breezes, and to create as much privacy within and in front of house as possible. Problem complicated by unusual shape of lot, the fact that it sloped uphill to the sea-wall, and the existence of a house to the east three feet from lot line.

Construction. Wood frame, balloon type. 2 × 6 studs, clapboards and plaster.

Exterior. Painted grey with white chimney, fences, etc. Slate roof (which was a definite requirement) is black.

Interior. All interiors painted flat colors.

Cost. 55¢ per cubic foot including casework in pantry and kitchen, and bookcase in study.


Family Composition. Man, wife, children, two servants.

Site. Lot situated near top of Belmont Hill with view east and southeast over Boston to the ocean. Design and placing of house result of attempt to (1) give all rooms southerly exposure; (2) take advantage of view; (3) provide as much play space as possible; and (4) make house private regardless of future development of adjacent lots.

Construction. Wood frame balloon type. 2 × 6 studs, clapboards and plaster. Prefabricated wood and metal parts to a varying degree. Copper shield on top of all masonry walls as protection against termites.

Exterior. Choice of materials and finish influenced by desire to accentuate the peculiarly local aspects of the house.

Interior. Most of the walls painted in flat colors. The color scheme starts with wallpaper on end wall only of living room, which is dark green with a grey, white and terra cotta design. The ceiling is terra cotta, the walls grey or white. The blues, tans, yellow, grey or white used elsewhere are meant to be consistent.

Cost. 53¢ per cubic foot including all casework in pantry and kitchen, bookcases and cabinets in study.


Family Composition. Husband, manufacturer of textiles; wife, painter; two small children. Wanted efficient plan and mechanical plant so house could be run with no servant or with one or two.

Site. Site of old limekilns; old stone available. Terrain artificial but covered with old trees and moss.

Construction. Basement stone with precast joist and slab construction. Superstructure frame. Old stone from limekilns; exterior above unfinished T & G cypress boards. Prefabricated parts: concrete joists; integral screen steel casement windows.

Interior. Insulating boards unfinished 4' × 12', and painted masonite board in bathrooms. Woodwork natural red beech. Ground floor concrete finished in terra cotta metalichron finish. Neutral plaster walls and ceilings.

Cost. $20,000, including built-in furniture and lighting. Special economy in planning: only corridor space is one stair hall providing access to two maids' rooms as well as usual list of owner's, guest, and children's rooms.


Family Composition. Man, wife, three children under fifteen. Site. One of three new houses to be placed on a high field with commanding view southeast, south, and southwest.

Construction. Concrete floors, masonry walls. Stone foundations, steel sash. Prefabricated parts: stock steel sash; prefabricated concrete joists. Propane gas serving three houses for all equipment from one tank.

Exterior. Painted cinder blocks. Poured concrete finished deck floor.

Interior. Varnished masonite dadoes. Unfinished insulating board above dadoes. Lacquered copper over master's bathtub. Terra cotta colored metalichron finished floors; coloring for finished floors sanded directly on damp monolithic concrete.

Cost. Approximately $21,500, including built-in furniture and built-in lighting. Special economy consisted of building three houses of different designs but similar materials under one contract. Also direct use of color in floor slabs, and open beam treatment of concrete ceilings produced fireproof house at only slight cost above non-fireproof house.


Family Composition and Requirements. Husband, wife, three children and three servants. Sharp separation of family life from reception end of house desired. Children to have their own living room apart from parents and yet close to service rooms.

Site. House placed on the edge of a bluff which drops about 40 feet to the east. Fifty-four acres of pasture and woodland. House commands view of valley to the east and south. To the west a rise shelters house from highway.

Construction. Steel and concrete frame from which wood roof slabs and floors are suspended. Concrete encased steel beams are exposed above the roof. Walls, except on north, are 4" brick and 4" tile serving merely as a curtain filler. North wall is a bearing wall of masonry. Suspended roof construction designed to ensure level ceiling with windows rising full height of wall.

Exterior. All wood used on exterior Tidewater red cypress. Brick "tan colonial" laid with header course depressed about ½". Tar and gravel roof laid level and designed to carry 2" of water for insulation in summer.

Interior. Ceilings and most of the walls sand-floated plaster integrally colored. Chimney and other bearing points of same brick masonry as exterior. Wood in principal rooms on first floor selected red birch and in bedrooms selected white birch. Floors white maple except in hallways and stairs which are reinforced concrete covered with linoleum in inlaid patterns.

Cost. 64¢ per cubic foot, including built-in furniture and cabinet work. Planning of furniture and furnishings along with design of house permitted omission of plastering on walls where furniture was to be placed.


Family Composition and Requirements. Family of three. Interested in health and social activities. Large collections of books and prints.

Site. View and shape of terrain determined orientation and therefore the plan.

Construction. Brick and redwood. Roof: 20-year bonded tar and gravel. Floors: concrete slab on fill. Insulation: walls, metallation; roof, metallation and rock wool. Glass: double strength, quality A; 3/16 in. plate for doors. Hot air heating equipped with humidity apparatus and automatic humidifying and temperature control; forced air furnace with ducts insulated for future cooling.

Exterior. Brick veneer and redwood. Two sundecks. All exterior redwood varnished to preserve color. Steel sash. Overhangs for shade. Terrace screened overhead and equipped with awning which is rolled up into recess at night.

Interior. Redwood ceilings in living room, dining room, and hall. Library all redwood. Walls are sheetrock covered with decorators' canvas, which permits elimination of all trim. Floor coverings: living room, library, dining and breakfast room of ½ in. cork; kitchen, linoleum; bathrooms, rubber. Doors: birch veneer and redwood. Cabinets: magnolia and quartered oak. Concealed lights in trough in living room and hall.


Family Composition. Family of two, with maids' quarters and guest room.

Site. Taking advantage of river view as seen from living room window and park view from bedrooms.

Construction. Patented Dow cinder blocks; concrete floors throughout, with upper floors of concrete over wire lath on steel joists. Poured reinforced concrete foundation. Gas-fired split system for heating. 4" insulation on all ceilings and stud walls exposed to exterior.

Exterior. Cinder blocks with white waterproof covering. Steel sash throughout, with copper spandrels, patina finish. Flat roof of built-up bonded roofings. Louisiana red cypress trim. Planted terrace surrounded by cinder block wall. Electrically operated garage door; control from dash of car.

Interior. Walls and ceilings are all white. Bathrooms have tile walls and floors. Floors: basement, cement finish; kitchen, service wing and game room, cork tile; remainder of house, brilliant green carpet.

Cost. 67¢ per cubic foot.


Family Composition. Bachelor who entertains often.

Site. Hillside property commanding view. Background of tall firs and cedars.

Construction. Frame on concrete foundation walls.

Interior. Finished in white sand-floated plaster. A large section over and around fireplace is covered with zebra flexwood. Ceiling of entry hall made of woven fir slats " thick and 2½" wide. Floor covering is straw matting from South Sea Islands. The rest of the oak floors have large light apple green rugs. Wall between entry and living room covered with gold Japanese straw paper to form background for a Chinese painting. One wall of entry hall has large vertical grain fir panels left natural in color.


Excerpted from CLASSIC MODERN HOMES OF THE THIRTIES by JAMES FORD, KATHERINE MORROW FORD. Copyright © 1989 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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