Mid-Century Sacramento page on Facebook!

 Chase Bank (formerly a Home Savings and Loan) 4701 Freeport Boulevard Sacramento, CA 
- by Kris Lannin Liang

For those of you who are on Facebook, there is an open public group called "Mid-Century Sacramento" created by South Land Park Hills neighbor Kris Lannin Liang this last September.

"Mid-Century Sacramento is an online meeting place for mid-century modern enthusiasts in Sacramento and surrounding areas." Kris has added photos and posts regarding MCM in the Sacramento region.

So far there are 37 members. If you're on FB, join in!

2012 Update: the group above no longer has an administrator. Please join SacMod (Sacramento Modern) on Facebook.

Happy Tday!

Happy Thanksgiving from our MCM home to yours!

Ho ho -- oh boy!


The biggest modern furniture (+ more) giveaway I've seen this year is up for grabs with more to come at Apartment Therapy et al. Sign up for an account then fill out a submission form for each posted item/one entry per post for a crack at the goodies offered on a daily basis. Per their Daily Update:
"... Born from the idea that a Gift Guide is better if you give the items away, we've arranged for over 100 shops to give great design items away to you. You can enter EVERY giveaway each day and the odds are GREAT, as over 100 people will be winners."

Don't miss it. Enter early/enter often. Let me know if you get lucky!

Another stunning custom Carter Sparks home for sale

Yesterday I posted some additional information regarding Sacramento region mid-century modern architect Carter Sparks. I've also previously posted a little bit of history regarding Mr. Sparks. I wanted to do this so you had a little background on his life and work.

This beautiful four bedroom, four bath, 3,200 square foot Sparks home was referred to me by blogger J at ModernValley; we've been discussing Sparks' work and MCM in Sacramento a bit over the last few months.

Per the listing:
"A true master piece of relaxation. This warm inviting home offers custom wood working with vaulted ceilings, wood floors throughout, floor to ceiling glass windows over looking a meticulous landscape with custom ponds. You can totally relax with the privacy that will make you feel you are in the country while you are minutes away from downtown. This Carter Sparks Custom home is perfect for anyone who wants privacy with a flare. It also has a guest house for friends or staff. This is a beautiful home."
More regarding this home directly from the realtor.

Just gorgeous. If you can do it, now is a good time to break into your piggy bank for homes like these! For the record -- I'm not a real estate agent nor affiliated with one -- I am passing this information along as a public service to those who are interested and love MCM design and architecture as much as I do.

Carter Sparks: The Architect

I thought the time was right to talk more about Carter Sparks. While I've posted a little history regarding Mr. Sparks previously in this blog, I feel there is more to be said. Especially before I post yet another stunning example of his work that is currently for sale.

A synopsis of his personal history was written by Steve Gibson in Sparks' Sacramento Bee obituary, dated November 2, 1996:
Carter E. Sparks, an architect known for designing large custom homes with lots of glass and wood that blended in with the surroundings, died of cancer Wednesday at his Clarksburg residence.

He was 73.

"To me, he was a fine artist, not just a person creating a plan," said artist Greg Kondos, for whom Mr. Sparks had designed a home and studio. "His homes came out with a warm feeling."

Mr. Sparks designed some of Sacramento's most impressive homes, including some on the bluffs overlooking the American River.

Known primarily as a residential architect, he spent many years designing homes for Streng Brothers, which built thousands of units on subdivisions in Sacramento, Davis, Woodland and Elk Grove.

In addition to his work for Kondos, Mr. Sparks designed homes for Dr. Franklin and Sandra Yee, Dr. Israel and Joan Ore, Jim and Sharon McCuen and Dr. Thomas and Virginia Marshall.

A native of Ogden, Utah, he was the only child of Faye Carter Sparks and Cecil L. Sparks. His father was a master mechanic for Southern Pacific railroad and the family eventually ended up in southern Oregon.

Mr. Sparks studied engineering at Oregon State University before enlisting in the Navy as an aviation cadet in 1944. Dropping out of flight school, he was trained instead as a navigator, and commissioned as an ensign just as World War II drew to a close. Immediately after the war, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., and assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, where he met his first wife, the former Billie Dare, an enlisted person assigned to an office job there.

They began dating and married a few months later. Leaving Washington in 1946, the two Navy veterans moved to Berkeley, where they both enrolled at the University of California under the GI Bill. She studied liberal arts, while he signed up for classes at the School of Architecture.

He graduated in 1950 and worked for two architectural firms in the Bay Area before moving in 1955 to Sacramento, where he went into partnership with another architect, Don Thaden. In addition to homes, they also designed schools.

After he and his first wife divorced in the late 1970s, Mr. Sparks married the former Dolores "Dodi" Hernandez, who survives him. Other survivors include his daughter, Jennifer Sparks-Bellarbi of Sacramento; stepchildren Dennison Sheya of Phoenix, Charles Sheya of Lake Tahoe and Edward Sheya of Folsom; and six grandchildren."

Sparks' approach towards design, in his own words, were captured in another Sacramento Bee article by Patricia B. Smith dated January 24, 1988:
"The more idiosyncratic the client, the more interesting the house will be,'' says Sparks. "The same thing goes for the site. If it's interesting, it's easier to build an interesting house on it. One of my clients decided to build into a hill and that made for an interesting floor plan. Another couple, who were teachers, wanted a house that would be very flexible so they could teach at home after they eventually retired. So all the walls are storage units on wheels so they can be moved to change the number and the configuration of the rooms.

"At the moment, I am working on designs for inexpensive factory-built houses that young couples can afford. They average about 1,400 square feet and, including the lot, should cost about $75,000 in this area. My factory house designs are contemporary and can be put together in 'h,' 'l' and 't' shapes to make them more interesting.''

Carter Sparks says really listening to his clients is one of the ways he gets to know them. "I also like to look in their closets to see if I can find a favorite color and style of clothes they like.'' Though he says of the last group of volume house designs he did to fit a "general attitude,'' 35 of them sold to young architects. "I guess that says something about architects thinking alike,'' he said.

While it is well-known that Sparks designed custom homes, commercial buildings, schools, and models for Streng Bros. Homes, many are unaware that he also designed homes specifically for Blomberg (of Blomberg Windows) that were built here in town. I'll have more details regarding this in a later post.

My inner librarian wishes to share this Foster City Eichler Homes brochure with you

Plan FC-13 by Claude Oakland

From my library to your eyeballs -- the brochure for Eichler Homes of Foster City. This stuff is too good to hoard for myself.

The brochure can be seen in its entirety here on my Flickr photostream. It has some cool pix; for example:

Exterior to interior view

Interior to atrium view

Raise your hand if you have heard of Claude Oakland. OK; now:

Plan FB-4 by John Brooks Boyd

How many of you have heard of John Brooks Boyd? If you haven't, let me introduce you.

Per the Spring 2004 Eichler Network Newsletter:
".... For many years, Boyd was Eichler's architect on the spot, customizing designs by Jones & Emmons, Anshen+Allen, and Claude Oakland to meet the demands of the clients and the site.

The Eichler custom homes were based either on standard Eichler tract designs or on homes specially designed by Eichler's architects for individual clients. While Boyd was rarely involved in designing the basic homes himself, at least two of his own Eichler designs were built: one in Foster City; and another in Mill Valley, near Eichler's Harbor Point development....

Born in Reno in 1931, Boyd served with the U.S. Navy's Sea Bees in the early 1950s, studied architecture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and then worked for Jones & Emmons before joining Eichler...."
More on John Brooks Boyd, including pictures can be found in the newsletter, available directly from the Eichler Network.

If anyone has any Eichler Homes (or related) ephemera they'd like to share that hasn't been posted online, feel free to drop me a note and I'd be happy to post here!

Ailing Eames or sorry Saarinen?

Looking for someone locally who can repair your Mid-Century (or other era) furniture? I have two suggestions for you -- folks with whom I have worked directly in the past and can heartily recommend.

The patient: our silly Jetsons boomerang couch

Good with wood:

South Land Park Terrace neighbor David Sundquist aka Furniture Man works primarily with wood and mostly on-site. He repaired our sagging boomerang couch that had structural framework problems after being moved several times (pictured above). South Land Park neighbors will be pleased to hear David is familiar with modern furniture (has worked on Eames chairs) and specializes in precision repairs (for surface damage such as scratches/gouges). David can also do small upholstery and leather repairs. Cabinets, built-ins and millwork are other specialties, as well as antique restoration. You may reach David via his cell phone: 916.715.5216

Upholstery specialists:

Bill and Terri of B & T Upholstery and Repair have reupholstered several pieces in our house over the last 15 years. Including the giant purple biomorphic couch pictured above. The couch was quite a sight transported on its side in the back of their El Camino -- it looked like a purple Weinermobile! Be sure to visit their gallery of "before" and "after" pictures.

Blast from the past -- 1955 Arcadia Sliding Glass Doors/Eichler Homes Ad

House + Home, April 1955, Page 258.
"Joseph L. Eichler and his prize-winning architects, Jones and Emmons, A.I.A., know the important points of difference between Arcadia and other sliding glass doors.

That's why they specify Arcadia exclusively for Eichler Homes. For even a single point of difference may pay off with added profits on your present project. Spend five minutes with Arcadia's 1955 catalog -- and see!

There's more to Arcadia sliding glass doors than meets the eye!"
I can attest our original Arcadia doors are still operating beautifully in our 1955 Eichler Home here in Sacramento!

Another Custom Carter Sparks: Open house 11.15.09 2-4pm

Update: Fantastic pictures available regarding this home have been kindly posted by J of Modern Valley on his Flickr photostream. Don't miss them! They add incredible dimension and depth, as well as a detailed account of Mr. Sparks' incredible work!

Occasionally I find out about mid-century modern homes in the Sacramento region that are either for rent or for sale. I am not an agent nor am I affiliated with one. I am passing this information along as a public service to those who are interested and love MCM design and architecture as much as I do.

Today's fresh catch: Another gorgeous Carter Sparks custom home in Sacramento's Wilhaggin area near Fair Oaks Boulevard. This home was previously featured in a June 2005 "Inside Arden" article (via The Beam Guy).

Built in 1961; Three bedrooms and three baths; 3,143 square feet. See my previous post for a brief background on architect Carter Sparks.

"Carter Sparks designed with soaring main gallery that captivates breathtaking views of pool and garden. Sophisticated living space wrapped in massive brick & wood infrastructure crisply defined by sheer walls of butted glass. Dramatic Mid-Century Classic with Honduras mahogany paneling & bleach birch floors."

More directly from realtor.

December 10th Meeting Regarding Neighborhood Safety/Watch

The South Land Park Neighborhood Association announced on their Facebook page that there will be an area wide safety meeting on December 10, 2009 from 6:30 - 7:30PM at Belle Cooledge Library.

"Neighbors, the South Land Park Neighborhood Association, together with City Council Member Rob Fong, are hosting a Crime Meeting to discuss recent crimes, Neighborhood Watch activity and organization, and how we can all contribute to keeping our neighborhood safe.

The meeting will also be attended by Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Neighborhood Services. We encourage all residents who are concerned about safety to attend, and we especially encourage those interested in coordinating a Neighborhood Watch to attend, as you will be provided with all the necessary tools and resources. The meeting will be from 6:30-7:30PM and will be at the Belle Cooledge Library. Save the date!"
I've mentioned the SPLNA before in a previous post and recommend joining and getting involved if you haven't done so already.

You look radiant!

Here in Sacramento, it is my understanding that most -- if not all -- of the original radiant heating systems with galvanized pipes are no longer operable. If you are one of the lucky neighbors that has a system that still works, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below this post!

I ran across some information today via Ideal Bite (a blog devoted to "green living") that struck me as worth sharing here. Per Ideal Bite:
* ... Depending on the size of your house and how high your ceilings are, radiant heating can save 30% on your heating bills (and might help you snag a tax rebate).
* Since it doesn't involve vents, forced air, or ducts, radiant floor heating can reduce dust mites by 80% - good news if you or your fam have bad allergies.
* You'll get more-even heat distribution throughout rooms - so you won't have to hang out near vents to feel warm.
Go to Ideal Bite's post directly for further information and links.

If you are interested in exploring "green" options for replacing your original radiant heating system in your Eichler Home, I recommend consulting with Matthew Piner of Piner Works Architecture and Building Group here in town, located within the Green Living Center. Per my conversation with Mr. Piner, there are a number of viable solutions for Eichler Home owners. Mr. Piner would assess your particular needs and situation and route you to the very best solution and an installer. Per a recent Sacramento Press article, "radiant systems offered by the Green Living Center ... employ sunlight and other natural environmental features to provide comfortable home temperatures."

Joe Eichler: The builder's builder

In July 1955, an Eichler Home -- similar (if not identical) in style to some of those built here in Sacramento -- graced the cover of House + Home magazine. Inside the magazine was an effusive article regarding the evolution of Eichler Homes over the last (then) eight years plus marketing strategies ("built-in merchandising") used by Eichler to sell them. Full scans of the article in its entirety are posted here on Flickr.

A floor plan identical to that of JE-85 (one of the Sacramento models -- see here for a brochure with more plans) by Jones and Emmons is featured in the article, as well as photos of other new design characteristics featured in our neighborhood. The article was written right after the Grand Opening of Eichler Homes here in South Land Park Hills and even mentions the practice of using the garage of the model as a showroom.

Special mention/credit: Associate Emiel Becsky worked with Jones and Emmons on their designs.

Also of interest is the number of homes originally planned for our subdivision: 142! As those of you who live here know, not all 142 were built. The reasons for this are likely a combination of economics as well as demand. At any rate, check out the whole article. You will undoubtedly see many familiar sights!

For a further look at Eichler Homes that preceded those in our neighborhood, see also an older article from American Builder, August 1952 scanned by SLP Hills neighbor Dane Henas.