Mid-century architecture — 1960s San Mateo, Florida


READER SAMANTHA now is the proud owner of a vintage brochure that includes houses in her own mid-century San Mateo, Florida, neighborhood. I am sure we will all be very jealous, because once you get into retro renovating your home, it seems like you want to know its complete history. Read on for Samantha’s story and for links to her blog, where you can also access the complete catalog.

Samantha writes:

Hey there Pam! Wanted to share my latest treasure, an original brochure from the builder of my home/neighborhood.

My house was built in ”61, so I’d say this is at least circa 1960. It’s full of fun details, made especially wonderful because I see these exact homes every day! I’m so jazzed! 🙂

I also have an original newspaper ad for the neighborhood (which came out of our bomb shelter!), and on my website I’ve transcribed the introduction from this cookbook.  It’s a wonderful description of how things were at the very beginning of the community.

I’ve been told that Mrs. Mathias is still a resident in the same house – she’s also the present of the larger Northside Civic Association. I’ve not yet met her, though! We have a small, monthly community newspaper that has been doing a historical series lately, and San Mateo is supposed to be the next feature. Hopefully they will use some of this stuff as well! 🙂

Thanks Pam! I visit RetroRenovation every day – keep up the awesome work!

Thank you, Samantha! It’s very inspiring to see and share all of your detective work.

  1. Jesse Stevens says:

    My Uncle Joe Pipitone built quite a few homes (Pipitone Dev.) in the San Mateo neighborhood. I may have some original advertisements and things left over from my aunt’s estate.

  2. Nina462 says:

    Oh, and I had friends in Mpls that had a bomb shelter too. We used it for beer storage for parties 🙂

  3. Nina462 says:

    My house (65 ranch) came with the original blueprints tucked away in the knotty pine basement bar area. The discovery was wonderful. I found out the exposed beams in the living room are original to the house. It’s exciting to find little things around the house (although I’ve lived here 4 years). I’ve found matching blue tile replacements under the bathroom cabinets, extra pieces of slate in the garden (I have a slate entry). And every year something comes up from the ground…pop bottles, big slate pieces, a piece of crockery etc.
    But I love looking at old blueprints (I have a big book of them from 1927).

  4. atomicbowler-dave says:

    Sorry we are both so hung up on the bomb shelter, but these things are just so cool!!!
    There was a really fun music video for a Donald Fagen song called ‘New Frontier’ circa 1892 or so, largely set in a backyard bomb shelter and also including lots of great midcentury/retro art styling and imagery. I loved it and would watch MTV (which I DID NOT love) for hours just to try and see it over and over. Alas, I cannot find it on youtube. So sad!
    Thanks for the pics of the bomb shelter, they’re great. Ever thought about repurposing the place into say, an underground Tiki Bar?
    I realize the ladder rungs might be a challenge after a few hurricanes, but that could be pretty funny on it’s own!
    Sign at the entrance: “Gentlemen Must Wear Dosimeters”?

    1. Just another Pam says:


      Just in case you stopped checking.

      And the gentlemen were being checked for exposure to radiation.

      These were slightly more useful than duck and cover or more currently, duct tape, but just would have prolonged the inevitable. I had friends that found a concrete one in their post war bungalow complete with instructions on what to stock etc., very cool to see and good for an eye roll or two.

  5. Samantha says:

    well, we were stunned when we found out about the bomb shelter – even with the cuban missle crisis and all that, we just didn’t think you could have anything underground in Florida. We were told that it was built with the house, and there was one other bomb shelter somewhere in the neighborhood.

    The only financial info I’ve heard about came from one of my civil defense manuals (of course! LOL)


    Inside is lots of information about the different construction methods, how to stock your shelter, and how to adapt to life inside a shelter, should the need arise (!) But it said that you could get an special FHA loan to cover the costs of your shelter construction. Pam, I’d be happy to contribute more info to a bomb shelter post in the future! 🙂

    My husband has some pictures of our shelter on his flickr:

    It is indeed underground and is a little bit stinky. 😉 Inside the shelter we found a stack of local newspapers from the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, also very stinky but absolutely wonderful!


    RR readers may especially find this set interesting, as it has lots of ads for “new” subdivisions:

  6. pam kueber says:

    I have some photos of an original bomb shelter as well – from the 1964 time capsule that I featured about two months ago. Will have to find them and post them. Bomb shelters: Another topic to cover…errr, uncover!

  7. atomicbowler-laura says:

    Naturally, we want to know more about this bomb shelter that is mentioned!
    Is it IN the house, or seperate, above ground or below?
    Are there photos posted anywhere?
    Don’t know how true, but have been told that at one time there was a break on one’s property taxes if the house had one….

Comments are closed.