What is a Mid-Century Modern Home?

A half-century after their initial heyday, mid-century modern homes are once again all the rage. Typified by clean angles, bold rooflines, and large windows, these iconic structures blazed a new path through traditional and sometimes staid architectural styles.

The trend had its roots in the European Arts & Crafts era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and Germany's Bauhaus School formed in 1919. The new vogue soon hopped the ocean and was embraced by American architects—most notably Frank Lloyd Wright who led the Prairie Style movement with low-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves.

From the late 1800s to the 1950s, Wright continued evolving his designs as well as influencing numerous other architects. Other pioneers of the day included George W. Maher, Philip Johnson, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, just to name a few.

The mid-century modern movement ran from around 1945 to the early 1970s as a seamless extension of earlier modernism but gained so much momentum that it became its own vanguard. Wright’s “Usonian” houses of the 1940s and 1950s were especially influential for emerging designers who embraced the notion of cost-efficient yet high stylized homes for the middle-class.

While often associated with the west coast and southwest, mid-century modern homes can be found throughout the country. The affordability of these post-World War II homes combined with a new sense of suburban culture, lent to developers popping the low-profile homes with floor-to-ceiling windows, in increasing numbers. From upstate New York to New Mexico, Arizona, California and the Pacific Northwest, a sea change was happening.

The Washington Metropolitan area was also taking part in the new craze with modern homes for sale emerging as well as larger commercial buildings. The new fashion certainly wasn’t limited to the District itself, making its impact throughout Alexandria, Fairfax County, Montgomery County and many other areas and subdivisions.

Perhaps the most prolific contributor to the mid-century movement was Joseph Eichler who built more than 11,000 homes, primarily on the west coast, with prices averaging around $12,000. Often known simply as Eichler Homes, these distinctive subdivisions from Palm Springs to Palo Alto, were and still are, the epitome of California cool.

Also working on a large scale was Robert F. Lusk and Lusk Corporation, founded in Tucson, Arizona and then spreading through Nevada, Texas, the mid-west and even as far as New York. Lusk was the fifth-largest home builder in the country during the 1950s, often using limestone and other indigenous materials.

Of course, no chronicling of futuristic design concepts would be complete without mentioning Frank Gehry whose work in the Los Angeles area pushed the boundaries to new heights, from single-family residences to highly ambitious skyscrapers.

Meanwhile, groundbreakers in the Washington area were also getting busy. Famed female modernist Chloetheil, Woodward Smith created the large-scale Harbour Square project in DC’s Southwest Waterfront, working with other noteworthy architects such as Arthur Keyes, F. Donald Lethbridge and Nicholas Satterlee.

Other significant mid-century modern developments included the Wessynton neighborhood near Mount Vernon, Virginia; the New Rock subdivision near Silver Spring, Maryland; and Carderock Springs near Bethesda with 400 homes—the latter project from builder Edmund Bennett and designer David Condon.

But perhaps the best-known of the mid-century Washington architects was Charles Goodman who worked with developer Robert Davenport on the iconic Hollin Hills neighborhood in southern Alexandria. Initiated in 1949, the project ultimately resulted in 450 homes set into ungraded woodsy terrain with either flat or butterfly roofs plus 24 giant windows placed side-by-side. The acclaimed neighborhood continues to thrive and is a now national a national historic district.

Goodman was also responsible for a slew of other developments, including the futuristic River Park Mutual Homes cooperative with metallic barrel-shaped roofs in the Southwest Waterfront; the Hickory Cluster townhomes in Reston, the Hammond Woods and Rock Creek Woods subdivisions in Montgomery County and many more.

While the mid-century era may have ended decades ago, bold design experimentation is still alive and well in DC and surrounding counties. But that's a story for another day.

 

Mid Century Homes for Sale in the Washington Metro

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7983 E Boulevard Dr, ALEXANDRIA

$45,000,000

7983 E Boulevard Dr, ALEXANDRIA

7 Beds 10 Baths 25,500 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2044570

ARCTURUS ON THE POTOMAC

700 Bulls Neck Rd, MCLEAN

$39,000,000

700 Bulls Neck Rd, MCLEAN

8 Beds 10.5 Baths 33,000 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2067572

BULLS NECK HUNDRED

21515 Trappe Rd, UPPERVILLE

$27,500,000

21515 Trappe Rd, UPPERVILLE

9 Beds 9.5 Baths 12,500 SqFt Residential MLS® # VALO2029102

NONE AVAILABLE

1171 Chain Bridge Rd, MCLEAN

$24,000,000

1171 Chain Bridge Rd, MCLEAN

8 Beds 11.5 Baths 20,000 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX1103612

BALLANTRAE FARMS

6431 Georgetown Pike, MCLEAN

$22,000,000

6431 Georgetown Pike, MCLEAN

10 Beds 13 Baths 22,000 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2022480

LANGLEY FARMS

1175 Crest Ln, MCLEAN

$21,000,000

1175 Crest Ln, MCLEAN

4 Beds 4 Baths 0 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2028910

LANGLEY OAKS

3900 Nebraska Ave Nw, WASHINGTON

$19,500,000

3900 Nebraska Ave Nw, WASHINGTON

7 Beds 7.5 Baths 11,212 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2071350

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PARK

2040 S St Nw, WASHINGTON

$14,500,000

2040 S St Nw, WASHINGTON

0 Beds 1 Bath 17,010 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2069548

DUPONT CIRCLE

2425 Foxhall Rd Nw, WASHINGTON

$14,250,000

↓ $2,745,000

2425 Foxhall Rd Nw, WASHINGTON

7 Beds 8.5 Baths 11,095 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2031624

WESLEY HEIGHTS

1113 Langley Ln, MCLEAN

$13,500,000

1113 Langley Ln, MCLEAN

7 Beds 8 Baths 16,000 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2095866

LANGLEY FARMS

2861 Woodland Dr Nw, WASHINGTON

$10,850,000

2861 Woodland Dr Nw, WASHINGTON

8 Beds 6.5 Baths 9,442 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2047400

MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE HEIGHTS

8911 Georgetown Pike, MCLEAN

$10,500,000

8911 Georgetown Pike, MCLEAN

6 Beds 8 Baths 14,253 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX1178892

NONE AVAILABLE

3301 Fessenden St Nw, WASHINGTON

$10,500,000

3301 Fessenden St Nw, WASHINGTON

11 Beds 14.5 Baths 17,631 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2067172

FOREST HILLS

2860 Woodland Dr Nw, WASHINGTON

$10,500,000

2860 Woodland Dr Nw, WASHINGTON

5 Beds 7 Baths 8,500 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2034888

MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE HEIGHTS

35a Elsiragy Ct, MCLEAN

$10,000,000

35a Elsiragy Ct, MCLEAN

7 Beds 10 Baths 22,332 SqFt Residential MLS® # VAFX2098142

PEACOCK STATION

3131 Chain Bridge Rd Nw, WASHINGTON

$9,995,000

3131 Chain Bridge Rd Nw, WASHINGTON

6 Beds 8 Baths 12,200 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2066942

KENT

4640 Cathedral Ave Nw, WASHINGTON

$9,750,000

4640 Cathedral Ave Nw, WASHINGTON

6 Beds 8 Baths 8,600 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2073826

WESLEY HEIGHTS

1930 Foxview Cir Nw, WASHINGTON

$9,750,000

1930 Foxview Cir Nw, WASHINGTON

6 Beds 8.5 Baths 9,575 SqFt Residential MLS® # DCDC2055892

BERKLEY

Posted by Andre Perez on

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