Isthmus Cover Story: Ranch-O-Rama

2 min read Check out my profile of Madison’s Mid-Century Homes for Isthmus!

My story on Madison’s MCM history is the cover story for Isthmus! Check out this excerpt or read the whole story HERE!

Isthmus Cover: Ranch-o-Rama

Madison’s mid-century homes are undergoing a renaissance

The eye-catching Postweiler house sits on a quiet street in Madison’s Midvale Heights neighborhood. A 1955 ad called it “tomorrow’s home…TODAY.” Characteristic stack bond masonry, with bricks set in a grid rather than offset, wraps a shaded entry and highlights a trapezoidal window wall, seeming to both showcase and protect the open living room. Every element — from the slim proportions of the thinner Roman brick to the double garage door with its three horizontal windows — amplifies its elongated, ground-hugging character.

Perron Nicholas and his wife, Mary Lauten, wanted to simplify their lives, relocate from Mount Horeb to be closer to work and friends, and find a home with distinctive qualities. When Nicholas drove by the just-listed house in 2014, he knew he had to have it. He didn’t realize he would be moving into a historic landmark.

Madison is home to a lot of ranch houses. Many are basic, but others have truly remarkable designs, featuring dramatic roof lines, envelope-pushing floor plans, and subtle modernist detailing. Some were designed by name architects; others are just the best work of area home builders.

Spurned for decades, ranches are in demand again. Mid-century modern styling is pervasive in current home and interior design — what was old has become new again.

Mid-century ranches are rightsized, livable, and filled with charming small details. They are better built than most new construction and easy to add on to and modify. They’re located in easy-commute neighborhoods near many local services. The real estate website Trulia lists the ranch-style house as the most popular type of home for sale in 34 states, including Wisconsin. Modern buyers, like their mid-century counterparts, are falling in love with the idea of the ranch house.

I’m one of them. Mid-century-era homes were not on my radar until I moved back to Madison, my hometown, three years ago looking for a hands-on renovation project. I’d planned to take a year sabbatical from my day job as a residential architect focused on sustainability. What I found in my never-updated 1952 ranch was a new passion. The deeper I dug, the more obsessed I became with the potential of mid-century ranch houses.

The ubiquitous simple ranch house is a form of modernism for the rest of us — an accessible conduit to tap into the great ideas and design of the mid-century period.

History in our midst

… want more? Read the rest of the article at the Isthmus website!