Time Flies!

Whew, what a year it's been!

The Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour completely took over the first seven months of my year - a real labor of love and totally worth it. The tour donated $3,000 to our neighbors at the Short Center South -- a day program that serves adults with developmental disabilities.

Our small but spirited army of three also founded Sacramento Modern (aka SacMod), a non-profit association whose mission is to promote, preserve and protect modern art, architecture and design in the Sacramento region. We're working on events for the coming year. Stay tuned for announcements and the unveiling of our new website. Many of you have expressed an interest in participating; thank you and bear with us while we make room.

My favorite thing has been rediscovering our region's recent past by researching who designed and built our city. I look forward to learning more in the months ahead.

Here's to a happy, healthy, peaceful and productive 2011!

Chair-y Christmas!

Here's a 1948 advertisement for Eames' iconic LCW, LCM, DCW and DCM - available back in the day in Sacramento at Breuner's.

From the Sacramento Bee, October 27, 1948, Page 9:
"Breuner's Decorator Galleries Presents the Eame's (sic) Chair from the Herman Miller Collection - the most widely publicized and used chair in the entire field of Modern Design. So comfortable as an occasional chair in the living room. So comfortable for the conversation group or cocktail hour. So comfortable as side chairs in the dining room. So comfortable for pull-up chairs at long bridge sessions."

Adjusting for inflation (I used the CPI Inflation Calculator):
Dining chair, metal legs and low chair, metal legs, in 2010 dollars = $385.69
Dining chair, wood legs and low chair, wood legs, in 2010 dollars = $407.93

These chairs were originally available to the public in 1946 and are still available to this day. (A bit more pricey, even adjusting for inflation). For further information on the history of these chairs, more here.

Beautiful Sacramento Eichler for sale!

A lovely three bedroom, two bath Sacramento Eichler home has come up for sale this week. Many of the home's original details -- such as the majority of the Philippine mahogany walls and the original cabinets -- have been kept intact. Hurray! Act quickly, I don't think this one will be around for very long! See the link for more photos and details.

Thanks to JW for the heads up on this one -- I pass these along as a public service to those who are interested and love MCM design and architecture as much as I do.

Remembering those in need this holiday season

I hope you've enjoyed my posts on holiday decorations and gifts -- but the best gift of all is giving to those in need and to causes and organizations that serve our community. Due to the economic downturn, this has been a hard year for many in our region. Sacramento has also seen hard times in the past. This post is a nod to that history -- along with suggestions on how to help our fellow Sacramentans right now.

Many people are familiar with the work of photographer Dorothea Lange -- did you know she took many photos in the Sacramento region during the Great Depression? Here are some examples of photos taken at American River Camp in November of 1936.

Destitute family. American River camp, Sacramento, California.
Five children, aged two to seventeen years

Child of migratory worker. American River camp near Sacramento, California 

 Daughter of migrant Tennessee coal miner.
Living in American River camp near Sacramento, California

 Migrant winter camp on outskirts of Sacramento, California.

Please view this excellent video with additional pictures and stories the people who lived in American River Camp during that time.

Here are some organizations that provide assistance at the local level. This is by no means a comprehensive list but, rather, a starting point. It includes favorites from some of my local friends. Do you have any favorites? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Sacramento Steps Forward
Loaves & Fishes has many programs that feed the hungry and shelters the homeless. Some of my friends' favorites include Mustard Seed School, Women's Empowerment, and affiliate programs such as Family Promise of Sacramento and SafeGround Sacramento.
Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
River City Food Bank
Sacramento Crisis Nurseries
Sacramento Children's Home
Big Brothers and Sisters of the Greater Sacramento Area
Wellspring Women's Center
Tubman House
My Sister's House
St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children
Meals on Wheels
Sacramento Habitat for Humanity
Wind Youth Services
Breaking Barriers
See also seasonal programs such as the Sacramento Bee's Book of Dreams and USPS' Operation Santa.

Happy Big Seven-Five, Tower Bridge!

Today, the Tower Bridge in Sacramento celebrated its 75th birthday. The bridge was originally dedicated on December 15, 1935. A great article, including pictures of the original dedication ceremony, can be found at Sacramento Press.

I'm including some pictures of Tower Bridge from my postcard collection. Note the above postcard shows the bridge and State Capitol but no Capitol Mall! That is a long post for another day, with a rich and interesting history all its own.

If you are interested in an in-depth look at the bridge, start with a brief but excellent history of the bridge at the Historical Marker Database. Additional history, construction pictures, and a look at the controls can be found here (you'll have to scroll down a bit). My favorite group of pictures is available via American Memory from the Library of Congress -- lots of black and white photos as well as sketches and plans of the bridge.

Tower Bridge was designed by Alfred W. Eichler, who was a Senior Architectural Designer for the State Department of Public Works. The bridge was the first vertical lift bridge on a California highway and was originally painted silver. According to the Historical Marker Database, "Eichler conceptualized the Tower Bridge in the Streamline Moderne architectural style, a later outgrowth of Art Deco that gained worldwide popularity between World War I and World War II (1919-1938), as the style symbolized progress, modernization, speed, efficiency, and technology."

In addition to the Tower Bridge, Alfred Eichler also designed many other state buildings throughout California. He was also a watercolor artist and photographer. You can see some of his art displayed on his great nephew's website as well as a biography.

Structural engineers Frederick W. Panhorst and George Thompson also collaborated on the Tower Bridge project. Panhorst, according to Caltrans, "served as the Chief of the Bridge Section of the California Division of Highways from 1931 to 1960. He was also a National Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers." A bridge over the Russian Gulch on Route 1 in Mendocino County is dedicated to him. A wonderful collection of Mr. Panhorst's papers can be found online.

My favorite way to drive in to Sacramento is using CA State Route 275, going over the Tower Bridge, and driving down Capitol Mall. I recommend this route to all newcomers and locals who like to mix things up and take in the scenery.

Gifts for the Sacramento Modernist

Looking around for a great gift for your mid-century/modern fan? Here's a list of things that you can get around town. Prefer to shop online? Follow the links below and you won't have to do much more than click your way through.

For the local architecture admirer: a book celebrating Dreyfuss & Blackford's 60 years of "notable works past, present and future." I love this. WANT!

For the modern art lover: a membership to the Crocker Art Museum. This is a gift that will keep giving throughout the year. Great art, great programming. Yes.

For the lighting and design aficionado, anything from Lumens. Check out their mid-century and retro lighting and their clocks and radios.


For the gourmand, delicious chocolates and more from Ginger Elizabeth. Beautiful, modern, and delectable chocolates! This gift is sure to win you brownie points.

For the those who yearn for a blast from the past, Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records has old jukeboxes, pinball machines, and advertising memorabilia. Oh, and records. Lots of records.

For the vintage fashionista, go to Fringe. This boutique that sells gifts, vintage jewelry, and clothing is constantly changing and evolving but always chic. Cool home accessories too!

For the mid-century modern bookworm, look no further than Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts. See my earlier post for more details.

For those who love handcrafted and vintage goodies, check out our local Etsy dealers from the SacEtsyTeam.

If you're making a list and checking it twice, it's easy to keep it local. See also my previous posts on vintage furniture and retro and vintage decorations. Happy holidays, everyone!

Tour featuring six cool MCM homes in Napa this weekend!

Special thanks for this intel to fellow blogger Kimberly of Mid-Century Living. Kimberly has an amazing mid-century modern home in Napa, a keen aesthetic, and a good eye for design.

On December 11, 2010 Napa County Landmarks/Napa County Historical Society, will host the 22nd Annual Holiday Candlelight Tour. This year the tour will showcase "impressive 'California Modern' homes in Monticello Park, a mid-century neighborhood on the outskirts of Napa. These large and lovingly maintained homes demonstrate the beautiful and innovative design features of post-war architecture and landscape design."

For more information, read this great article from the Napa Valley Register.

I wish I could go to this!  If you go, please take pix and send me a link!

Mod Menorahs and Designer Dreidels

We almost burned down the house with my daughter's handmade menorah last night. May I suggest that wood is not a good material? Which brings me to a post I've had on my mind for weeks; you didn't think I was just going to talk about Christmas, did you?

Turns out many others have beaten me to it and have done a great job too -- here are a few:

The Invisible Agent did a spectacular post on Mid-Century Modern Menorahs. Go. Visit. Enjoy. (Thanks Amy!)

I looked around on Etsy and found this lovely spage-agey one. Love it! And it's sold, darn it:

Looking for something newer? DesignMilk has some beauties to share:

And Whorange weighs in as well:

I also ran across some really nice dreidels. Here's one available by Nambé, designed by Marilyn Davidson:

And here are some by a nice Jewish boy named Jonathan Adler:

This one's for you who fling your latkes in the air some time; saying Aaay-Oh; spin the dreidel (thanks Jason!):

Have Yourself a Merry Mid-Century Christmas

While running around town I've noticed some great vintage and retro Christmas items. Here are a few that caught my eye recently:

Jingle/East Sac Florist has a wonderful mid-20th century display in their store. They had several beautiful themed trees as well, including a Dia de Los Muertos tree!

If you are looking for vintage decorations I noticed that 57th Street Antique Mall has them flying in and out on a daily basis. Tomorrow is a good time to visit; they are having a winter sale. Thanks to Mimomito for the intel! Here's what I found at 57th Street the other day:

This post was inspired by a friend who is creating a 1950s-1960s Kitschmas this year. Anyone out there have an amazing mid-century Christmas display to share?