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Houses for a New World:
Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs, 1945–1965
Barbara Miller Lane

Winner of the 2016 PROSE Award in Architecture & Urban Planning, Association of American Publishers
Winner of the 2016 Historic Preservation Book Prize, University of Mary Washington’s Center for Historic Preservation
Winner of the 2015 Athenaeum Literary Award (for Art and Architecture), The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Hardcover | 2015 | $49.95 | £41.95 | ISBN: 9780691167619
320 pp. | 8 x 9 3/4 | 224 halftones.
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While the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, and their contemporaries frequently influences our ideas about house design at the midcentury, most Americans during this period lived in homes built by little-known builders who also served as developers of the communities. Often dismissed as "little boxes, made of ticky-tacky," the tract houses of America's postwar suburbs represent the twentieth century’s most successful experiment in mass housing. Houses for a New World is the first comprehensive history of this uniquely American form of domestic architecture and urbanism.

Between 1945 and 1965, more than thirteen million houses—most of them in new ranch and split-level styles—were constructed on large expanses of land outside city centers, providing homes for the country’s rapidly expanding population. Focusing on twelve developments in the suburbs of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Barbara Miller Lane tells the story of the collaborations between builders and buyers, showing how both wanted houses and communities that espoused a modern way of life—informal, democratic, multiethnic, and devoted to improving the lives of their children. The resulting houses differed dramatically from both the European International Style and older forms of American domestic architecture.

Based on a decade of original research, and accompanied by hundreds of historical images, plans, and maps, this book presents an entirely new interpretation of the American suburb. The result is a fascinating history of houses and developments that continue to shape how tens of millions of Americans live.

Featured housing developments in Houses for a New World:

Boston area:

  • Governor Francis Farms (Warwick, RI)
  • Wethersfield (Natick, MA)
  • Brookfield (Brockton, MA)

Chicago area:

  • Greenview Estates (Arlington Heights, IL)
  • Elk Grove Village
  • Rolling Meadows
  • Weathersfield at Schaumburg

Los Angeles and Orange County area:

  • Cinderella Homes (Anaheim, CA)
  • Panorama City (Los Angeles)
  • Rossmoor (Los Alamitos, CA)

Philadelphia area:

  • Lawrence Park (Broomall, PA)
  • Rose Tree Woods (Broomall, PA)

Barbara Miller Lane is Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritusin the Humanities and Research Professor in Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College. Her books include Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918–1945, National Romanticism and Modern Architecture, and Housing and Dwelling.


"In Houses for a New World, the Bryn Mawr professor emerita Barbara Miller Lane investigates the output of a dozen lesser-known tract house developers in four diverse regions--New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and Southern California--and treats the period's typical Cape Cods, ranches, and split-levels with the serious formal analysis once reserved for high-style architecture. . . . Her tour de force of research is all the more impressive because she has assembled documentation akin to that previously available on the residential work of important postwar figures such as Richard Neutra, William Wurster, and Marcel Breuer but largely overlooked for builders other than the Levitts."--Martin Filler, New York Review of Books

"Lane uses original research, images, plans, and maps to illustrate the American suburb."--Shannon Sharpe, Metropolis

"To her credit, Ms. Lane stoutly rebuts . . . Slurs, encapsulated in the popular song about 'Little boxes made of ticky tacky' and shows that 'these generalizations were largely false'. Far from being the refuge of white middle-class 'Men in the Gray Flannel Suit,' their neurotic wives and delinquent children, and built by 'rapacious entrepreneurs, in the business of wringing the last penny out of substandard construction,' the houses were well-built and generously equipped and the developments by and large models of societal inclusiveness. . . . [T]hey represent a lost golden age of opportunity."--Martin Rubin, Washington Times

"Illuminating."--Anthony Paletta, The Daily Beast

"The architecture profession has long criticized mass-produced housing in the suburbs for lacking artistic design and sophistication. Lane's book puts this argument in perspective. . . . Readers seeking a historical overview of this unique era in American homebuilding should enjoy this book."--Katherine Salant, Urbanland

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Table of Contents:

A Personal Note vii
Acknowledgments ix
PROLOGUE Paraphrases of Original Buyers' Recollections 1
CHAPTER 1 New Houses and New Communities 3
CHAPTER 2 West Coast Builders: Los Angeles and Orange County 47
CHAPTER 3 East Coast Builders: Philadelphia and Boston 93
CHAPTER 4 The Builders of Chicago's Golden Corridor: Midwestern Ranches and Splits 139
CHAPTER 5 The Buyers, Their Backgrounds, and Their Preferences 187
CHAPTER 6 Conclusion: Houses and Suburbs Transformed 221
Appendix 1. Chronological List of Campanelli Developments, Massachusetts and Rhode Island 233
Appendix 2. Stoltzner Business History 234
Appendix 3. Interviews with Original Buyers or Their Children 235
Abbreviations 244
Notes 244
Bibliography 273
Illustration Credits 295
Index 296

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File created: 9/7/2017

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