In the 1950’s a handful of architects were promoting an era of easy, modern living in affordable houses. Key among them was real estate mogul and developer Joseph Eichler. Though the Fullerton Forever Homes have ties to Eichler, they were not built by him, but are an excellent example of his merchandizing expertise.
Eichler’s Marketing Muscle
The homes came about thanks to Eichler’s promotion of modern living on the 1950s TV show Home. On the segment “House that Home Built,” Eichler’s architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons offered their house plans for $200 to developers in towns across America.
According to the Eichler Network, which curates information on all things Eichler, the regular “‘House That Home Built’ segment tried to persuade America that glass-walled, low-gabled, modern homes would work anywhere in the country, not just sunny California.” Many builders jumped at the chance to pick up the Jones-Emmons plans and launch their own modern enclaves.
Fullerton Forever Homes Plans
There were seven floor plans offered from Jones and Emmons; three-and four-bedroom with two-bathrooms. The style was reminiscent of Eichler homes, as the plans had been created previously for Joseph Eichler. These houses were meant to be both affordable and cutting edge—in terms of design—and work in any climate.
Quintessentially Midcentury Modern, the homes feature plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows to bring the outside in, soaring ceilings and post-and-beam construction. Carports created space for Americans’ growing appetites for motorized vehicles. Color-coordinated “dream kitchens” with convenient built-in features were marketed to the era’s busy housewives.
In Fullerton, California, builders Pardee-Philips got on board, building what they then marketed as ‘Forever Homes’. There are nearly 300 of these modern Forever Home designs in the southern part of Fullerton—built sometime in the mid 1950s—and at the time they sold for just under $20,000. In a nod to Fullerton’s agricultural past, orange trees were planted in both front and back yards.
Builders and developers from other cities also snatched up Eichler’s offer of modernist architectural plans. Similar homes were built across America, in about 20 cities including Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver.
Over the years, many of these homes have fallen into disrepair, but a handful of Mid century Modern enthusiasts including real estate experts, contractors and builders are tracking down these forgotten homes and trying to bring back the shine they had when they were built.
For more information about the city and it’s mid century history, visit fullertonheritage.org.