I’ve written before about the Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House in Temple, Texas — an amazing showcase of the innovative use of laminate that was built by the head of Wilsonart in the 1950s. The Wilson House is the the first and only home that has ever been named to the National Register of Historic Places specifically because of its innovative use of materials. How ironic, that with the mainstream masses all gaga about granite, our little community is equally crazy about our laminates. Watch this video — historian Grace Jeffers takes us on a tour, and explains the important context for the use. It’s wonderful — and I assure you, you will be lovin’ your laminate more than ever.
Thanks to reader David for letting us know about The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. He wrote:
Love your website so very much. I wish we’d had a tradition of mid century design in the UK, but alas no. I think we were about 20 years behind the U.S., until not too long ago. Check out some of the 70’s UK houses, and design. Anyway I digress, last time I was in the U.S., I was staying with some friends in Asheville, NC. If you’ve not seen it yet you should visit the Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock, NC. It amazed me the National Parks Service have really done a great job in keeping the house like it was when Carl Sandburg lived there, even down to the original 60’s Kleenex in the living room.
Mid century modern design enthusiasts are likely familiar with the work of Russel Wright — an iconic designer of furnishings and dinnerware beginning in the 1930s. His “American Modern” dinnerware, which sold 250 million pieces from 1939-1959, is considered the best-selling dinnerware of all time (although I tend to believe Corelle has now outsold them.) Russel and his wife and business partner Mary also attained a level of celebrity for their best-selling 1950 book, “Guide to Easier Living,” which promoted a more casual American lifestyle. Mary is even credited with coining the term “blonde” to describe that particular shade of furniture — Russel’s American Modern line of furniture manufactured by Conant-Ball also was quite popular. After Mary died… quite young, sadly… Russel built a house on the estate they had purchased in Garrison, New York, one hour north of New York City. Completed in 1961, the house is another mid century jewel that we can add to our list of historic sites to visit.Heck yeah there is more →
Continuing on the hunt for retro inspired Historic Homes you can visit I was reminded of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, located in Memphis, Tennessee. Of course I’d heard about this 14 acre white columned estate before, but I never could have imagined the lavishness (if that’s what you want to call it) in which Elvis decorated it. The American Colonial style mansion was originally built in 1939 for Grace Toot, heiress of a successful printing firm. Elvis bought the home in ‘57. He enjoyed the privacy and security Graceland offered — plus, for only $100,000 it was hard to pass up. Elvis immediately began extensive renovations on the 23 rooms in the house & its surrounding grounds. He added the musical inspired wrought iron gate, a fieldstone wall to match the tan limestone on the home, racquetball court, swimming pool & the infamous jungle room. Finally, he designed & developed the meditation gardens — Elvis’ preferred reflection place — where his twin brother Jesse, parents and grandmother are buried.Heck yeah there is more →