Marsh-a, marsh-a, marsh-a

Taking a stroll with our dog around the neighborhood, I happened to run into a group of new friends and neighbors, fresh from their trip to the annual San Mateo Highlands Tour. Noting the nearby sump station, I asked if there was a creek nearby and was directed to the Reichmuth Park Nature Area, just across the street.

As I walked into the canopy by Sump Station 65 on Silver Lake Drive off of South Land Park Drive, my trepidation turned to delight as I discovered a wild wetland forest right in the middle of our urban neighborhood! I can't help but wonder if Joseph Eichler intentionally chose to build our neighborhood near this natural asset or if it was just a coincidence.

There is a beautiful trail which meanders and eventually leads to the grassy areas of Reichmuth Park. Along the way, we spotted wild blackberries, grapevines, cat tails, and even a fig tree nestled among the native oaks. We heard crickets, frogs and saw a shallow pool full of tadpoles. Even though we didn't see any, there are reportedly bunnies. And birds. Lots of birds. Apparently, per the Sacramento Audobon Society Reichmuth Park is home to many uncommon birds. The next scheduled SAS field trip is scheduled this fall, September 21, 2009 at 7:30am.

Near the bottom far left margin of this old 1908 Sacramento map, you will see an area called Munger Lake, where Reichmuth Park is currently located. According to Carlos Alcala, author of "Sacramento Street Whys: The Whys Guy’s Wise Guide to Sacramento Street Names" Reichmuth Park was "... named for Joseph and Amelia Reichmuth. At one time they owned the park, only it was under water and named Munger Lake, which explains why kids practicing soccer in winter tend to get very muddy there. The Reichmuths also had a 358-acre dairy...."

If you want to melt away the stress of urban living, I suggest a walk with your dog here. For safety reasons, I suggest you don't go alone.

My kids really loved the "secret" nature walk. Except for the wet shoe in the boggy water incident, but the shoe was washed and no harm done. This morning, my six year old son stated that he's pretty sure Master Yoda lives there but only comes out at night when it's foggy. Only the birds and the bunnies may know for sure.

UPDATE: Quite a while after I did this carefree little post, Valcom News reporter Lance Armstrong did a great in-depth article on the history of Reichmuth Park and the lake. Read his article here.

Don't take my Kodachrome away

I discovered a cache of old slides from the former owners, Dr. & Mrs. H in the rumpus/TV room. These show the house in the late 60's through early 80's. With kind permission, the original family has allowed me to scan and add these to this blog. This first picture is of the house in April, 1970.

Beautiful Mrs. H in the living room, January 1973

Dr. H in the dining room, December 1975

Their handsome son in the dining room, December 1975

Their lovely daughter & kitty, outside - August 1967

Living room, April 1979

Living room, April 1979

Living room, April 1980
Dining room, April 1979

Dining room, April 1979

Kitchen nook, April 1979

View from nook into living room, April 1979

Many thanks to the family for letting me share these wonderful pictures! And thanks to Bryan Darling from Home Movie Store (located nearby in South Land Park, right below William Land Park/Funderland) for digitizing these. If you have any old format images or movies from the past, I recommend taking them to Bryan -- he is also a mid-century enthusiast and does a great job.

Through the airwaves

Another near-original feature that I love is this Alliance Tenna-Rotor, Model U-100, which I'm guessing must have been purchased shortly after the 1962 remodel of our garage into a large den or rumpus room. A real upgrade from the old rabbit ears of the 1950's.

Per, " suburban and rural areas where signal was weak, it was very important to have a properly aligned antenna. Thus, the external folded dipole (looks like a part of a trombone) antenna was erected on the roof. In some areas, even this did not suffice and folks went outside to rotate the antenna to catch a distant signal. For the more affluent, you could buy a Tenna Rotor sold by the Alliance Corporation in numberless commercials during the late night movies. This was a little box, shown below, that allowed you to orient the antenna from the comfort of your living room."

I really love how our unit was labeled for tuning into Sacramento and San Francisco TV stations! We haven't yet had the opportunity to find out if it still works.

I was surprised at the amount of information I found online regarding the Tenna-Rotor.

For instance, from I love antennas, a wiring diagram and installation instructions;

From webremote, a YouTube video demonstrating how it operates;

And even the manual if anyone is looking for it.

This concludes our regularly scheduled broadcast. Tune in tomorrow, same time, same channel.

Curtains for you, my pretty!

I love these vintage curtains in our kitchen and don't have the heart to replace them even though they are slightly fading in places. Something about the rounded geometric patterns reminds me of tiki, jazz, and tribal art.

They are from House 'N Home Fabrics & Draperies, Inc. and are medium weight.

I haven't found anything remotely as comparable, but here are a few fabric contenders that would have to be custom sewn:

If anyone happens to see an excellent and comparable pattern, please let me know.

Lamp restoration project completed!

We were able to identify and restore a pair of mid-century light fixtures in our 1955 Eichler this last week. I was not liking the frayed cords and was worried about fire hazard; after ~50+ years' worth of use, these fixtures were in need of rehab.

You can see the full project here on Flickr.

I must give special thanks to:
- Bo Sullivan, historian and archivist at Rejuvenation for help in identifying the lamps EJS Model 1204, per a 1959 light fixture catalog;
- Pam Kueber from for posting about mid-century lighting and leading me to Bo;
- Norman Metcalf and his assistant, David: clever Sacramento area electricians extraordinaire.

I started this project by trying to identify the pair of pull down brass fixtures online, which led me to Pam's wonderful blog entry regarding the identification of her vintage pull down fixture. This, in turn, led me to Bo Sullivan, historian with Rejuvenation in Portland, Oregon. I sent him some pictures and he had a hunch that the fixtures were from E. J. S. Lighting Corporation from Los Angeles and began his research.

Bo then sent me this picture of Lamp EJS Model 1204, page 70 from 1959 E. J. S. Lighting Corporation's catalog and I immediately knew he was correct. Per Bo, "None of the other catalogues showed wood wall brackets remotely like this shape - one of those details where everyone had something slightly different. The catalogue states the bracket is walnut. This catalogue is 1959, so perhaps if your light is original to the 1955 home EJS had evolved the design a little by this time. The 1204 sold for 19.40 in 1959."

Bo also confirmed that the original rounded style rayon cord is no longer available, so I decided to try to rehab the lamps using the original cord, even though I had obtained new rayon flat cord from Revival Lighting.

Our electrician, Norman Metcalf, and I discussed this re-use and decided that the undamaged old cord was just as well-insulated (if not more) than the newer cord. Once he disassembled the first fixture we got quite an eyeful of what heat from excess wattage can do to a fixture.

After rewiring the fixtures, Norman recommended lower watt CFL's instead of incandescent bulbs. We used 60 watt equivalent CFL's. After Norman's repair magic, we can now rest easier that the lamps will no longer be a fire hazard. The CFL's generate less heat, use less energy and the fixtures are no longer too hot to the touch. They throw a decent amount of light and due to the enclosed design of the fixture are just as aesthetically pleasing.

If you have a vintage lighting project, I recommend Norman from Metcalf Electric at (916) 456-6862. I've been working with him for years at our other mid-century home up the street. He is easy to work with and will help you find a good solution specific to your needs.

Blast from the past -- Grand Opening of Eichlers in Sacramento!

Special thanks to pinetree on Flickr for posting two May 13, 1955 newspaper ads in the Sacramento Bee for the grand opening of Eichler Homes for sale in Sacramento.

For direct scans from microfilm, go here and here.

"Now, the news you've been waiting for... Eichler Homes comes to Sacramento... in lovely South Land Park Hills. Grand Opening this weekend!

3 and 4 bedrooms plus large all-purpose room. 2 baths. 2 car garage. $17,750 to $21,000. As low as $500 down to Vets. From $2650 down on FHA terms.

America's most honored builder proudly invites you to visit the newest Eichler Homes. . . this weekend in South Land Park Hills. See the latest designs of the famous architect team of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons. See the famous "custom" extras that are standard in Eichler Homes: air cooling, cork tile floors, Philippine mahogany wood paneling, engineered radiant heating, built-in G.E. clothes washer/dryer, Waste King garbage disposer, built-in Thermador oven with range, oversized 2 car garage, extra room, closets with built in chests..."

"Smartest looking home we've ever lived in. . .and our new Eichler Home is so easy to take care of, too! -- says Mrs. Russell Illig, Eichler Home owner in Palo Alto, California.

We never realized what a difference good design can make in your living 'till we moved into an Eichler home. Its clean, simple lines not only set off our furniture and decorations beautifully -- they make housekeeping so much easier than in conventional homes.

The modern way to live! Like Mrs. Illig discovered, Eichler Homes are truly years ahead of other homes -- in design, in durability, in luxury features. They have an exciting, glamorous, contemporary look -- inside and out. And every detail has been carefully planned to contribute to your convenience, your comfort, and your pride in ownership.

Eichler homes -- the growth of an idea...

Ten years ago an architect-designed contemporary home was beyond the reach of most families. Eichler Homes believed that by using modern production methods -- large scale purchasing of materials and volume construction -- it could produce the latest and finest in homes, designed by America's leading architects, at a price within the reach of the discriminating buyer.

Today, Eichler Homes are regarded as the leaders in the home building field. Eichler Homes have been featured in articles and stories in America's leading magazines and newspapers time and time again. They have won more awards and citations of merit than any other homes in America.

More important, they have brought a new and better way of life to more than 2500 families in Northern California. Knock on the door of any Eichler Home. Ask the owner how he and his family feel about their home. We feel sure his answer will make you want to join the hundreds of successful young businessmen, professional men, artists, writers, and their families in experiencing a new, rewarding way of life in Eichler Homes. See you this weekend!"

Cool poster!

An "Obey the Eichler" poster from Crestview Doors via Tikimama of Atomic Tea Party totally cracked me up today!

The poster is part of Crestview Doors' Save Your Neighborhood Campaign: "... an effort on behalf of Crestview Doors to promote awareness of mid-century modern residential architecture and to support efforts to preserve, protect or reinvent it."

I've been meeting more of the neighbors this last week and several of them have mentioned how much they love the original intent and architecture of the Eichlers in the neighborhood.

South Land Park Neighborhood Association

Just a little post to spotlight the South Land Park Neighborhood Association. The association is a non-profit group of neighborhood volunteers and does the following:
  • Represents our members to City and County government, and work with other neighborhood associations on issues that affect our residents and businesses
  • Provides a non-partisan forum for discussion on neighborhood concerns
  • Monitors local government programs or decisions that affect our neighborhood
  • Keeps members informed on neighborhood issues
You can join the association for $10 per person/year, or $25 per person/3 years. They send out quarterly newsletters, regular email updates about neighborhood activity, concerts, and events, and offer several events for members only throughout the year. See their website for further details.