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“Ranch homes” – their history and distinguishing characteristics

ranch house
YES: This house plan is still available today — along with 84 other vintage house plans! See the story here.

Is my house a ranch house? A colonial? A colonial-ranch? A year into the blog, I’m pretty sure in understanding that my own house is a mix…but this holiday week I’ve been doing more research into the true academic terminology, if there is such a thing. To start, here’s a story from the National Park Service that lays out how the ranch home developed, and which gives us the clues to telling whether our homes are truly ranches – or not. Some of my key takeaways:

  • A ranch is defined by its livability, flexibility, and unpretentiousness. It has a low sloping stance and roofline and is designed to bring the outside in.
  • Yes, it has one story. But not all one-story houses are ranch homes.
  • Ranch-style, ranch bungalow, ranchette, rambler, California colonial, and even ranch burger — all synonyms for “ranch.” I also know there are further sub-categories: Such as ‘Cinderella ranch’ aka ‘Storybook ranch.’

One last point: I still would like to see the actual data proving that ranch homes were the dominant style throughout the 50s. I think that cape/colonial homes may truly have been their match – especially when you consider that many of these homes might be incorrectly called ranches just because they are on a single story.

Read on for a long story published by the National Park Service  —->

Click for PDF:

Ranch Houses Are Not All the Same
David Bricker
Architectural Historian
California Department of Transportation
San Bernardino, California

  1. Catherine says:

    Wow… this is a much larger model than mine… and beautifully updated! I hope you get a good buyer who appreciates MCM!

  2. Denise Hammitt Alt says:

    In regards to Scholz Homes based out of Toledo, Ohio: My father worked for Scholz Homes as an architectural draftsman in the mid 60’s and 70’s. I have his original rendering /elevation booklets of “The Farmington”, “The New Englander”, “The Briarwood” and the The Early American” dating from the mid 60’s. I also have the Scholz “Custom Collection” copyright date 1977. The Custom Collection features 26 Scholz designs with exterior & interior photos of actual built homes – very retro! Very cool!

  3. Heather says:

    Hi Denise,

    A little late but I was just researching Scholz Homes and love RR so decided to check here too! Are you still in the Toledo area? I’m in the beginning stages of research but I’d love to put together a Scholz home tour with residents of the area. Any info you could share would be greatly appreciated! heathnae14@gmail.com

  4. karen thornton says:

    Hi ! I just bought a Scholz home in Forest Hill, Cleveland.
    Looking for pictures of the originals. Especially the kitchens.
    So excited to bring this little gem back to its original glory.

  5. Mark W Hooley says:

    We just discovered our home is a Scholz design as well; a “Mark 58” built in 1957. Possibly a prototype? We’ve also found the drawings for the house in a basement cupboard.

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