More Than a Prefab
June 7, 2021 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Don Scholz, a trained engineer and self-taught architect (and father of Boston front man Tom Scholz), was one of the mid-century's preeminent builders of pre-fabricated homes, and introduced contemporary California design concepts into middle America. Here's a neat Flickr collection of factory brochures and period press for some of the designs.
posted by hwyengr (15 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I know topics of single-family homes and suburbia don't always land well with MeFites, but living in a Scholz home myself, it's remarkably well-built and functional. Any house with 2 bars can't be evil.
posted by hwyengr at 9:28 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]

I'd hope for better mobile reception than that.
posted by Grangousier at 10:10 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]

Tom Scholz was a founding member of Boston, but he was the lead guitarist, not the front man.
posted by crazy_yeti at 10:51 AM on June 7

THE founding member of Boston...

RIP Brad Delp
posted by Windopaene at 11:08 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

And, these are very cool mid-century houses...
posted by Windopaene at 11:43 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

That mark 58 ad has so many of the terrible functional designs on the exterior - the interior looks really nice and is pretty cool.

The garage takes visual precedence and gets nicer architectural windows, and is about 1/3 the size of the human space.

The roof is cut in over the front door - so rain dumps on your head when trying to actually use the front door instead of driving into the garage.

It is so short and far from the street, it basically fades with the curvature of the earth.
The soffits are apparently Alcoa aluminum, like a trailer house.
Celo-Tex drywall is still a product that exists and is in use.
Aluminum windows- a modern feature then - now pretty terrible.
Features a modern central A/C in 1958. Wasn't really common until later.
The wood paneling is a veneer.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:23 PM on June 7

Sounds like the home described in the beginning of Isaacson's 'Jobs' bio, I think?

Personally I think they're very pretty houses. Our culture has a lot of ugly houses in my view.

(When the band Boston started getting attention, Tom Scholz often got more media focus than Brad Delp. Journalists like to refer to the Les-Paul-style tinkerer/inventor angle.)
posted by ovvl at 12:32 PM on June 7

The issue with introducing California design concepts into middle America is ignoring that designing for continental climate was a major factor in the layout of houses inland. I'm not saying prefab houses are bad, but ignoring physical design choices that help deal with a hot summer, cold winter environment is probably why these have AC so comparatively early.
posted by Ferreous at 12:37 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]

Thanks, hwyengr! I managed to get lost in these, which was just what I needed today.

This is my first MeFi comment, after years of lurking (although only months as a member). This type of thing is very much what I love about this place - a topic I had never considered and certainly wouldn't have looked up on my own, presented in a way that entertains and informs me, at least a little.

Also, I was moved to begin a song called "Any home with two bars (can't be evil)". Should it ever amount to anything, you will, of course, get co-writing credit.
posted by Lazy Buffalo at 1:18 PM on June 7 [12 favorites]

I'm a huge fan of vintage floorplans and architectural brochures, but I haven't been able to find a lot of midcentury ones. It is interesting to see the "restyling" of these kinds of sprawled-out homes. "California Contemporary" is a style that doesn't appeal to me (especially when prefab), but to see the demonstration of a house becoming a "colonial" or a "French Provincial" by... adding some trim onto a giant sprawling L ... is a hoot.
posted by Hypatia at 1:30 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

My biggest gripe with the brochures is seeing the options that our builders cheaped out on. You mean I COULD have had an indoor charcoal grill? A sun patio off the dressing room? COME ON.

you will, of course, get co-writing credit.

That's hwyengr with an "H"
posted by hwyengr at 1:35 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]

You mean I COULD have had an indoor charcoal grill?

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:41 PM on June 7

I saw a couple of indoor grills when I was house hunting. There are lots of mid-century houses around here. Kinda makes you wonder which fancy built-ins from today's kitchens are going to seem ridiculous in the future.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:13 PM on June 7

There's apparently one of these not that far from me. It's clearly someone's private home and all and as much as I enjoy going around and taking photos of midcentury houses, I try not to be too weird about it (I drove to one neighborhood but then didn't get out of my car because it didn't feel right to park and take photos).

Still, it might be fun to go drive by this one at some point.
posted by edencosmic at 5:56 PM on June 7

"The exterior walls are Johns-Manville asbestos Flexboard"
posted by rfs at 4:33 AM on June 8

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