A Round up of all things Mid Century Modern:
- If you’ve any of the Disney Pixar’s (Boss Babe, anyone?), you can’t help but notice all of the Mid Century Modern references: automobiles, homes are distinctly 1950s and 60s. Ralph Eggleston talks about that Sunday in Palm Springs’ Modernism Week.
- For Chicago area locals: a few Mid Century Modern chairs are on exhibit at the Richard Driehaus Museum including the Molded Plywood Lounge Chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller, the Bertoia Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia for Knoll and Frank Gehry’s Superlight Chair.
- Midwest classic car fans will want to attend the April 27 Evening of Fun and Fortune at the Kokomo Automotive Museum in Indiana.
- Not particularly newsy, but these 1940s/1950s wallpapers? I’d put them on a folding screen so I could take my wall with me wherever I go.
- Frank Lloyd Wright house with 1960s autos parked in front, as photographed by architect John Vinci.
That’s it for now, friends.
By Mary Beth Klatt
The opulent 680-room Caesars Palace began because builder and designer Jay Sarno had a vision: He wanted to construct a unique Las Vegas hotel—an homage to the famed Roman emperor.
Read more here.
“The 17 iPads that were tossed in the pool and ruined? They can be replaced. It’s the chain smoking that’s a problem.”
George sat back in one of the vintage chairs out on the porch of his clients’ $26 million Los Angeles 1956 estate Mid Century Modern home two-story home, puffing on a Cuban cigar. He surveyed the glittering city of Angels, got up and started walking around the guitar-shaped pool created by a Hollywood star back in the day.
“The way I see it – the ghost themselves are an asset,” he said, tapping his ashes into the pool. “I’ve sold more than one property that was haunted. Just not a Mid Century Modern one. There are some people who seek them out. The idea that chairs mysteriously move or levitate intrigues them. My problem is the smoke.”
He continued talking to Sister Barbara, who came in on the red eye last night. A housekeeper in a crisp black and white uniform swung by the patio with a cup of hot coffee and cookies. George called Sister Barbara yesterday morning, pleading with her to come out and talk to the ghosts in this property now on the market. Apparently the iPads – mysteriously tossed into the pool – were the last straw.
“My team cannot sell a house that’s got the smell of smoke,” he said, pacing manically puffing on his cigar, and now sipping on a Starbucks latte. “I’m aware the smoke from these ghosts is vintage. It’s not real.
“But I just can’t risk them lighting up during the house walk through prior closing. They could screw up everything.”
Sister Barbara just nodded, saying “I see” every once in a while. What did this guy in a custom-sewn suit expect her to do? Wave a magic wand? Do a novena on the spot to get rid of these ghosts?
Sister Barbara herself got up, started walking around the pool, dipped her own sandals playfully into the heated pool. The warm water felt heavenly. She just wanted to don a swimsuit and dive in. Not talk about ghosts.
“Sir, could you please sit down for a minute?” she said, setting down her coffee on the patio table. “Your ghosts – who exist their own time warp, if you will – will not respond to anything I do. I’m not a ghost buster. I’m just a nun who accidentally got on NPR after helping out a young couple with spirits in their contemporary architecture home. The news about that got out. I don’t solicit business. I just answer calls at the convent.
“My intuition tells me these ghosts will only stop smoking when something else starts.”
“The sellers need to bury a St. Joseph statue? They’ve done that.”
“No, that’s fine. This couple need to baptize their two children immediately and start them in CCD at their local parish.”
George looked at her, stubbed out his cigar. “Lady, you are kidding me? I don’t proselytize to my clients. You will need to tell them this strange advice. They’re Buddhists. They’re in the middle of a divorce.”
Sister got up.
“Not my job,” she said, huffily. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take a dip in your client’s pool,” she said.
Fully clothed, she leaped into the water as a pelican landed on the pool ledge. “Good luck with your ghosts.”
By Mary Beth Klatt
It’s hard to believe that the Greenbrier, a destination resort opened in 1778 on 10,000 private acres in the foothills of West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, was briefly used as an army hospital during World War II. German, Japanese, and Italian diplomats were also housed there with their families for a time while awaiting return to their respective countries.
Read more here.
Just think – I ended up in jail on charge of trespassing private property thanks to a nun.
Yes, a nun. Somewhat older. Hard to say how old she was 55, 65 with her hair hidden behind her black veil. She had the cherubic round cheeks of the young nuns of my youth and that relentless, disarming cheerfulness that seems to be the hallmark of the sisters of the cloth. Or at the least the ones you see on TV and in the movies. Not that smart-ass Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act.
Back to how I ended up in a jail. A first since my high school days when I was jailed for illegal possession of marijuana. I’ve forgotten that, and believe it or not, that youthful indiscretion derailed my career for a while since it was a felony.
So I called this nun to the building I manage, the late and great Frank Sinatra’s Desert Palms home. It has a kidney-shaped pool overlooking the city. The one you see featured in movie videos, commercials and more. It’s one of our most popular properties in our portfolio, well worth the $27 million our company Staywell Investors LLC spent to buy it a decade ago.
We’ve never had a problem filling that property since the day we we closed on in it. Until now. Now it’s too popular – thanks to Frank Sinatra’s ghost.
Or at least that’s what my AirBnB renters believe. I’ve never met this ghost and I’m cynical guy. I stopped believing in Santa at age 4 after I saw my dad putting presents under the Christmas tree. No more cookies and milk for that guy.
My renters have said they have started hearing Frank sing in the middle of the night. A lot of his swing-era favorites – Come Fly with Me, etc. Accompanied by his signature cigarette. At first they thought it was somebody playing the record player. But that record player – a defunct Philco model 49-1401 radio/phonograph – doesn’t work. I know. Arm is broken and there’s no needle.
The news quickly spread that Frank was singing nearly nightly in Desert Palms. An impersonator who knew Frank back in the day says it’s really Frank.
The problem is people are breaking in to hear this ghost sing. These break-ins affect our daytime rentals as police need to fill out reports and more..
So I called the ghost buster nun. Paid for her fly out to Desert Palms, put her up in the swankiest hotel. Told her she needed to get rid of this ghost.
She even stayed one night. Communed with the ghost.
She told me Frank is upset. Very upset.
“Upset about what?” I responded. “He’s singing happy songs, I hear. Come Fly with Me. Upbeat songs.”
“He’s upset they’re planning to tear down his childhood church in New Jersey,” she said.
I blew a gasket or two. “Frank is dead and upset about a demolition? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
That wasn’t all. Apparently, Frank – a guy I never met while he was alive – wants me to stop the demolition.
“He’s afraid that all those souls who are attending Mass there now will not go to Heaven,” she said, fingering her rosary. “He’s fearful they won’t attend another church. They will just stop going.”
“That’s my problem?”
It turns out that if I want to save my imperiled Desert Palms property I have to save that church in Jersey. I don’t even go to church anymore, I’ve forgotten how to say the Rosary, none of my family members go, let alone my circle of friends. Church is passe.
But I was desperate to stop the travesty of break-ins at Palm Springs. I went to Jersey, fastened myself to a chain link fence surrounding the condemned church, threw myself in front of a bulldozer and got arrested. All to appease the ghost of Frank Sinatra.
The nun bailed me out long distance. “I’m sorry, I got it all wrong,” she said in her phone call to me. “Frank doesn’t care about that church-”.
I didn’t bother to hear the rest I was so angry. I hung up on her.
Here’s this week’s round-up of Mid Century Modern homes and related news around the country.
- Now this makes me want to visit Disney World if only to see the old televisions in action. And have a cocktail too.
- This Oregon 1950s abode hints of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence. This would be reason alone to visit Oregon.
- This Jacksonville, Florida 1957 house been faithfully restored thanks to blueprints at the local university.
- It turns out there are plumbers, electricians and interior designers who specilize in Eichler homes. Who knew? Read more here.
This is a weekly round-up of all things Mid Century Modern in the news. Houses that have been renovated, demolished. Interesting news about furnishings, the real deal or reproductions. Occasionally related articles that I’ve written (I specialize in writing about historic preservation and architecture).
Here’s the first round-up of news in no particular order:
- A Michigan City, Indiana couple buys and maintains a 1958-1962 time capsule home that includes original furnishings and appliances.
- Who would have thunk Elgin, Illinois as a hub for Mid Century Modern architecture? A group of historic preservation activists did.
- One historic preservation board used a Mid Century Modern theme for its 2018 calendar. Smart!
- This Dallas hotel, built in 1956, was recently home to pigeons and rats. A $250 million renovation returned it to its Mid Century Modern glory.
- Pool hopping sounds like heaven particularly when it’s a place as retro as Palm Springs, the mecca of Mid Century modernism.
That’s it. Let me know what you think in the comments.