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«by Samuel Tommy Dodd, B.A. Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Merchandising the Postwar Model House

at the Parade of Homes

by

Samuel Tommy Dodd, B.A.

Thesis

Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School

of the University of Texas at Austin

in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements

for the Degree of

Master of Arts

The University of Texas at Austin

August 2009

The Thesis committee for Samuel Tommy Dodd

Certifies that this is the approved version of the following thesis:

Merchandising the Postwar Model House at the Parade of Homes

APPROVED BY

SUPERVISING COMMITTEE:

Supervisor: ____________________________________

Richard Cleary ____________________________________

Christopher Long Acknowledgements I am especially indebted to Dr. Richard Cleary for his contribution to this project.

Dr. Cleary recommended that I examine the Parade of Homes, and as I researched the topic he offered directional questions, comments, and advice. My second reader, Dr.

Christopher Long also provided guidance during the writing stage, and Dr. Monica Penick offered her assistance as a thorough and informed reader. Nancy Sparrow and Donna Coates in the Alexander Architectural Archive offered assistance and advice willingly. Thank you also to Beth Dodd and Dan Orozco in the Architecture and Planning Library. I am fortunate to have a group of supportive colleagues and friends at the University of Texas at Austin. Laura McGuire patiently gave me advice and always provided a model in her own work. Kelso Wyeth cheered me on and reassured me during stressful times. Most of all, I would like to thank Kathryn Pierce, whose support, humor, and input kept me positive at all stages of this project.

iii Merchandising the Postwar Model House at the Parade of Homes By Samuel Tommy Dodd, M.A.

The University of Texas at Austin, 2009 SUPERVISOR: Richard Cleary The Parade of Homes began in 1948 as a novel form of sales merchandising and publicity. The model house, on display at the Parade of Homes, was a powerful advertising tool employed by postwar merchant-builders to sell modern design to a new market of informed consumers and second-time homeowners. Using House & Home as a primary source, I contextualize the postwar housing industry and the merchandising efforts of builders. Then, through an examination of the 1955 Parade of Homes in Houston, Texas, I analyze the early Parade of Homes events and the language of domestic modernism that they showcased.

–  –  –

List of Illustrations ………………………………………………………….... vii Introduction …………………………………………………………………..… 1 Chapter One. Postwar Housing: “The Industrial Revolution”…………..….. 8 The National Association of Home Builders ………………………..…. 12 The Architect and the Builder …………………………………….….… 14 House & Home ……………………………………………………..…... 19 Chapter Two. Merchandising the Postwar House ……………………….…. 24 The Sexualized Spectacle …………………………………………….….24 The Sales Process ……………………………………………………..…26 The Model House ……………………………………………………..... 28 “How to Use the Model House” …………………………………….….. 32 The Model Kitchen ……………………………………………………... 36 “How to Turn Lookers into Buyers” ………………………………….... 37 Chapter Three. The Parade of Homes …………………………………….... 40 Meyerland …………………………………………………………….... 41 The 1955 Meyerland Parade of Homes ………………………………... 43 “Captivating a Captive Audience” …………………………………….. 45 “Showcase of Housing Ideas” ……………………………………….… 49 Burdette Keeland’s “Exciting New Home Design” …………………… 51 Tradition and Historicism at the Parade ……………………………….. 58

–  –  –

Coda …………………………………………………………………………… 64 Illustrations ……………………………………………………………………. 66 Bibliography

Vita ………………………………………………………………………….... 105

–  –  –

Figure1. Frigidaire Advertisement.

House & Home (June 1956): 215.

Figure 2. Blue Ridge Patterned Glass Advertisement. House & Home (April 1956):

66.

Figure 3. Emerson Electric Advertisement.

House & Home (June 1956): 71.

Figure 4. Higgins Industry, Inc Advertisement. House & Home (February 1957):

199.

Figure 5. Parade Ladies, Seattle Parade of Homes Photograph.

Photographer

unknown. “Builders at Work: Parade of Homes,” House & Home, (November 1954):

50.

Figure 6. “West Coast Lumberman Swap Grading Names for Numbers,” House & Home (March 1956): 57.





Figure 7. Large Scale Model.

Julius Shulman, photographer. “How to Turn Lookers into Buyers,” House & Home (April 1957): 146.

Figure 8. “Small Builders put House on a Barge,” House & Home (March 1957): 82.

Figure 9. US Steel’s Prefab House Periscope.

Ken Smith, photographer. “How to Turn Lookers into Buyers,” House & Home (April 1957): 143.

Figure 10. Val Zimmerman’s Catwalk.

Photographer unknown. “How to Turn Lookers into Buyers,” House & Home (April 1957): 143.

Figure 11. Boyd-Jackson’s Exposed Frame House.

Photographer unknown. “How to Turn Lookers into Buyers,” House & Home (April 1957): 143.

Figure 12. Meyerland Parade of Homes.

Edward A. Bourdon, photographer.

“Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 140-141.

Figure 13. Meyerland Plot Rendering. “Houston,” House & Home (February 1958):

94.

Figure 14. Alan Huvard Model House, exterior.

Photographer unknown. 1955.

“Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 148.

vii Figure 15. Paul Wolf Model House. Photographer unknown. 1955. “Houston’s

Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955):

147.

Figure 16. “Showcase of Housing Ideas.

” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX: Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 7.

Figure 17. HHBA Model House kitchen.

Photographer unknown. “Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 151.

Figure 18. HHBA Model House exterior photograph.

Photographer unknown.

“Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 150.

Figure 19. “Family Size Bomb Shelter!” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX: Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 5.

Figure 20. Buck King Model House, exterior.

Photographer unknown. “Houston’s

Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955):

143.

Figure 21. Buck King Model House, Exterior.

Fred Winchell, photographer. 1955.

Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, 1926-2000, University of Houston Libraries.

Figure 22. “Exciting New Home Design.

” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX: Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 33.

Figure 23. Burdette Keeland, Floorplan for Buck King Model House.

1955. Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, 1926-2000, University of Houston Libraries.

Figure 24. Buck King Model House, Interior.

Fred Winchell, photographer. 1955.

Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, 1926-2000, University of Houston Libraries.

Figure 25. Ann Winkler Interior.

Richard Averill Smith, photographer. “How to Use the Model House for Home Merchandising,” House & Home (April 1957): pg. 125.

Figure 26. “A ‘Traditional’ Styled Home.” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX:

Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 28.

Figure 27. Wilbur Moore Model House.

5147 Jackwood Street. Photographer unknown. 1955. “Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 142.

Figure 28. Wilbur Moore Model House, plan. Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX:

Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 29.

viii Figure 29. “Early American Colonial.” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX: Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 18.

Figure 30. Ervin Boessling Model House.

5131 Jackwood Street. Photographer unknown. 1955. “Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 143.

Figure 31. Ervin Boessling Model House, detail.

5131 Jackwood Street. Author, photographer. 2008.

Figure 32. “A Home Delightfully Different.” Parade Plan Book (Houston, TX:

Houston Home Builders Association, 1955): 22.

Figure 33. Ervin Boessling Model House, detail.

5130 Jackwood Street.

Photographer unknown. 1955. “Houston’s Home Builders Lead off 1955 Parade of Homes,” House & Home (September 1955): 146.

–  –  –

In 1948, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) organized an annual “National Home Week,” which featured a “showcase of housing ideas,” the Parade of Homes. 1 For the Parade of Homes, regional branch divisions of housing associations invited local builders to “erect their special Home Week model house at a central location, so prospective buyers can see them all in one place instead of having to travel far and wide.”2 In hundreds of cities, thousands of Americans visited the model houses displayed in the Parade of Homes events. Builders and architects converted entire streets into showrooms, displaying the best construction technology, design, and neighborhood planning that the house-building industry had to offer.

The Parade of Homes embodied a novel form of sales merchandising and publicity, orchestrated by the postwar merchant-builder in response to a new housing market.3 The model house, on display at the Parade of Homes, was a powerful advertising tool employed by postwar merchant-builders to sell modern design to a new market of informed consumers and second-time homeowners. More than a collection of 1 For the history of the NAHB before the Second World War, see History of National Association of Home Builders, Through 1943, (National Association of Home Builders, 1958).

2 “National Home Week,” House & Home (September 1952): 200.

3 The Parade of Homes has been neglected by scholars in their histories of postwar housing, marketing, consumer culture, or modernism. Ben Koush discussed postwar modern houses in Houston in his Masters of Architecture Thesis. His Appendix D included a list of Houston area Parade of Homes events from 1952 to 1964. Ben Koush, “Houston Lives the Life: Modern Houses in the Suburbs, 1952-1962,” (Thesis, Rice University, 2002). Jon Archer mentioned the Parade of Homes phenomenon once: “In the suburbs of many major cities, annual and semiannual trademarked real estate shows such as “Street of Dreams” and “The Parade of Homes, Where Dream Homes Come True” constantly maintain the propensity to thing of one’s

current or future dwelling as a “dream house.” John Archer, Architecture and the Suburbs (Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota, 2008): XV. Archer cited the Parade as a nominal example of a “real estate show,” without further discussion or analysis. The idea of the dream house was rarely used in the House & Home journal, so I will also largely avoid the term “dream house” in this thesis.

–  –  –

the largest display of modernized middle-class speculative houses: newly constructed, decorated, and presented to millions of American consumers with ready-to-move-in availability.



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