What’s to like about Mid-Century Modern Homes in these Foreclosure days?

Jerry Gropp
These homes are called “Mid-Century Modern” because then was the heyday of architect-designed homes that were carefully fitted to the needs of the owners and the properties involved. Often located on
choice lots in established neighborhoods, most of these have mature gardens not needing to be planted. Many of these homes have had a number of owners- some better than others at maintenance.

Perhaps the main thing that sets these homes apart is the construction – many are “post and Beam” and are laid out showing the structure per the plan for this custom home in Fauntleroy, West Seattle overlooking the Ferry to Vashon Island.

When it was a “Mid-Century Modern” bank, Washington Mutual served my clients well.

It provided market rate mortgages which it held in the branch’s own portfolio. (WaMu advertised that its “WM Mortgage Loans” were never sold). Your home is a place to live, raise your family- not an investment.

Whether it’s a MCM (Mid-Century Modern) or other, that’s the way it should be regarded, loved and cherished. And a good home mortgage, preferably locally held and serviced made all this possible for me and my clients. As did many other Seattle natives, I started with “School Savings” pictured as a mural on the wall of a branch.
WaMu and many other of the troubled banks and mortgage lenders got off on the wrong  foot when they went after the derivative bundled mortgages that were in demand by big operative builders like Toll Brothers as covered in this very inclusive 10/16/05 NYT Magazine article- Chasing Ground.

The “White Trim Syndrome”all over Rain City- There’s a whole lot more to designing homes

Mercer Island and a lot of other nice places are being overrun by “Spec Builders” madly producing these oversize boxes with their wide white trim. Other tell-tale touches of their indifferent computer-driven drafting (don’t call it “design”) are the tapered posts with pasted on faux river rock.

While fronts are abundantly and ineptly adorned, both sides and the back are usually left plain- except for perhaps some lumber yard non-wood wide white trim. Here are some examples:
white trim



While waiting for the birds to sing

[Editor’s note: I am more than pleased to introduce, in fact I’m quite excited to introduce and welcome, Jerry Gropp, Residential AIA to the Rain City Guide family of writers. Jerry specializes in MCM, Mid Century Modern design, and has a passion for seeing these homes updated.  Jerry is a native of Seattle.  His own current home on Mercer Island which he updated, is an excellent example of how his talents mixed with his passion for what he does, meld into the best of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer in home style.  Jerry is a graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture.  His talent combined with his passion, have quickly made me a huge fan of his, and I’m sure you will be a fan of his writings in short order.  Welcome Jerry!  I SO look forward to some passionate discussions with you about MCM vs….just about everything else the area has to offer.]

While waiting for the birds to sing, my wife Patty and I decided to take a break in Puebla, Mexico– one of the old/new “Colonial Cities” that we hadn’t visited.
puebla patiojpg

In all the years I’ve practiced custom residential architecure I’ve seen the same thing- nothing happening homewise until somewhat sunnier weather happens.

This year will be no different- pent-up demand combined with stimulus measures will probably get things going again- with this difference– no longer will just any old indifferently-designed “Craftsman” or “Bellevue Chateau”  be snapped-up.  Jumbo “ARM”s will not be available- all to the long-term health of the industry.