Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MCM Eye Candy

As you may know, the home we retired to in Oregon is a Mid Century Modern post-and-beam house, built in 1957.

Google drive by 4-12

Since we bought it I’ve had lots of fun looking for furniture and accessories from the Fifties, and have really come to love the modern architecture of the period. In fact, we’re working on starting a social group for local MCM homeowners and aficionados. Turns out my neighborhood is just full of amazing houses.

But what I want to share with you is not my neighborhood – it’s a bunch of MCM architecture mostly from the Seattle area. Rambling around online I came across the University of Washington Library’s photographic collections, particularly the Dearborn – Massar collection. They were a husband and wife team who took pictures of Pacific Northwest architecture from the Forties into the mid-Sixties. Mostly houses but also schools, medical buildings, offices, churches.

I love the house pictures! I’m sure we all see interior decoration all the time, but these are from the period the houses were built. I’ve been struck over and over at the simplicity of kitchens then. And the wonderful furniture I drool over is often in living rooms that by today’s standards are quite bare, with just a few pieces in them. Every once in a while I see something in a picture that I actually own – a teapot, my dining chairs. Maybe I’ll run into my new/old Ben Seibel creamer in someone’s kitchen.

Iroquois china Ben Seibel creamer

There are over 1300 pictures in the collection, all in black and white. Yes, color might be nice, but in grayscale I think you are more aware of shapes. Some of the pictures seem to be repeats, but even so there’s a ton to look at.

Overturf residence interior showing kitchen, Seattle, 1954

I’ve been pinning some of them to my Pinterest board. So far nothing I’ve pinned has been pinned by anyone else, and given the ubiquity of Pinterest these days, that tells me that not enough people know about these photos. So if you’re a Madmen fan who’s been enjoying their sets, or grew up in the Fifties and have fond memories, or just like MCM architecture, go take a look. A lot of time and effort went into scanning all these pictures, they deserve to be enjoyed!


  1. In your social group, please consider starting to document the MCM homes in Salem! Our Local Landmarks and listings on the National Register of Historic Places are all 19th century and pre-war Bungalow/Craftsman things. But of course the National Register has a 50 year guideline, and it's time to document that MCM history before too much of it is lost! There are few MCM commercial buildings in Salem, and the number of homes is much greater. So there's a real opportunity here! Glad you're thinking about this.

    1. That's exactly what we've been thinking! I do keep spotting commercial buildings here and there. There are a number of MCM schools in Salem too. And lots and lots of great houses.

  2. Replies
    1. You are most welcome! I'm hoping the usage statistics on this collection will soar as more people find out about it.


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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