Its got the kind of living room fireplace in front of which Mad Mens Betty Draper could comfortably drape herself. Rob Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show might have flipped over the stylish entry with a geometrically sculpted redwood room divider.
And Leave it to Beavers June Cleaver never would have parted from the streamlined metal-cabinet kitchen, as timelessly elegant as her single strand of pearls.
Beth Behrendt and Bill DeSalvos home in Fort Waynes Wildwood Park looks as if it could have been the set of any number of TV shows depicting the late 1950s or early 60s – and for good reason.
Through its architect, Ed Gibson, its got a Hollywood pedigree.
Gibson – the first black man to be licensed as an architect in Indiana – was heavily influenced by Paul Revere Williams, a much-accoladed black architect from Los Angeles. During a career spanning much of the 20th century, Williams was known as Architect to the Stars for designing homes for the rich and famous. Clients included Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, Lon Chaney and Jennifer Jones, and his homes graced the subdivisions of Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills.
Gibson didnt stray far from the mid-20th-century modern aesthetic he shared with Williams when laying out 3451 W. Washington Road.
The home will be one of a dozen in Wildwood Park on display noon to 5 p.m. June 16 during the annual Historic Home and Garden Tour sponsored by ARCH, Fort Waynes non-profit historic architecture preservation group. The southwest Fort Wayne neighborhood was recently nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
Using natural materials to bring the outdoor environment indoors, Gibson created a sprawling mid-20th-century modern ranch made of cut limestone. Walls of windows flank a rear patio and an angled ceiling covered with Indiana redwood planks and beams rises above the living and dining areas. A cut stone fireplace, with a matching apron, occupies the living room.
Behrendt says she and her 48-year-old husband fell in love with the place from the outside the first time they saw it while house-hunting in Fort Wayne – even before the home was even on the market.
We both have modern tastes, and we knew we wanted a midcentury style. And we knew we wanted a ranch after all those years of going up and down steps, says Behrendt, referring to her familys previous residence, a three-story rowhouse in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a research librarian for a non-profit group.
Behrendt, 44, who was raised in Fort Wayne and is the mother of three young boys, says one thing she appreciated about the house was its easy flow – its built in an L-shape that places the kitchen literally in the center of the house and the bedrooms in a separate wing.
Even though its a large house, I always feel I know where everybody is, she says.
Another appreciated feature – wooden built-ins throughout. An area hidden from the rest of the master bedroom houses closets and drawers, bookshelves line walls in whats now a media room and one of the childrens bedrooms has a built-in desk. A built-in plant trough in the living room extends across a window to the outdoors.
You really didnt need much furniture to move in to this house, Behrendt says with a laugh. She adds she plans to scour antique shops and garage sales for appropriate pieces to go with a chaise sofa and large Danish modern dining table the family already owned.
An Eames chair is high on our radar, Behrendt says, referring to iconic molded-wood or two-piece lounge chairs designed by Charles Eames, an MGM set designer of the 1940s.
Previous owners had made important changes, including transforming a second kitchen designed for kosher living into a laundry room and purchasing a large, stainless steel restaurant-style stove for the main kitchen.
The couple turned finished space in the basement, which houses maids quarters with a full bath, into a playroom for their sons – Jack, 11; Mick, 8, and Max, 4.
The boys also will become beneficiaries of their parents current project – a full-size pool and an expanded patio nestled between the homes two wings.
We thought this (pool) would be enjoyable for the boys, especially as they got older, Behrendt says. Its really our first fun project.
Behrendt says a precious possession is a two-page newspaper spread from 1950 given to her and her husband by the houses previous owners. It features pictures and descriptions of the home shortly after it was built, as well as ads placed by major contractors.
Back then, she says, the house was a conversation piece because of its size and modern California style. People remarked about the houses flat roof because it was so different from the pitched roofs they were used to.
I was just in high school, so I dont know too much about what people thought, but seeing all these different large houses being built at that time, I think people thought that (some) people had a lot of money and they could put in whatever they want, she adds. It was a very different house for Fort Wayne.