Beyond the Third Little Pig

Purdue University Demonstration Concrete House, Lafayette, Indiana.  Burnham Bros. & Hammond, Architects.  chas. Gambsky & Co., Builders.

If the third little pig had been building in the 1940’s he might have chosen to go brick one better and build from concrete.  At least according to his booklet promoting Concrete Homes, that is.  They give it the hard sell in shiny black and white photos interleaved with comments like “Any house you are planning to build, any architectural style from Cape Cod to Modern, will be a better house if built with concrete,” and, “this rugged, durable, firesafe type of construction assures low annual cost.”  I’m not sure any style of house is better in concrete – or really that any house is  full stop.  But it does have its uses.  I’m going to be exploring the benefits, drawbacks and history of concrete for the next few posts.  Meanwhile here are a few more design gems from the 40’s concrete industry and a lovely little piece of advertising copy straight out of Murder Must Advertise.

“Liveable” in Westport, Connecticut.  Frank Harper Bissel, Architect.

“Modern” Concrete Home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  Edward G. McClellan, Architect, F. Tomlins, Builder

“Cool in Summer” in Miami Beach, Florida.  Lester F. Preu, Designer and Builder.

This one is apparently “Easy to Decorate.”  Fresno, California by Richmond Construction, Co. Builders.

“And People Do Like Concrete Homes”

“When a person signs a contract to build a house of his own, his heart beats to a faster tempo, and hopes and fears and thrills of excitement race through his mind.  All during the days it takes to build, he is filled with anticipation and impatience until the time when it is finished and he can say: “Last year I dreamed this house; now I am in it.  It’s my home.”

“But long before this, the wise builder did a lot of thinking and planning.  The decision to build was no snap judgement; for building a home is a serious, though happy, undertaking.  He studied and balanced his budget; he accepted and rejected; finally he had what he wanted.  When he chose his house and determined to build, it was because he liked more about that house than any other house he could afford to buy.

“Why do people like concrete homes?  Well for many reasons – they say – and for different reasons, depending upon how each looks at homes.  One said, proudly: “My house is the best-looking house on the street, and it’s a fine street.”  Another one thought it was because he was “building something very staunch and strong, that wind and flood and fire couldn’t wipe out.”  He wanted security.  Someone else admitted he thought that he “could sell it, make some money on the deal and build another one something like it.”  He had an eye for business, but he never had so much fun as he had planning and building that house.  A thoughtful reason was this:  “I saw a very old concrete house, and it looked so new and apparently cost so little to keep going that I couldn’t go against my judgement when I decided to build.”

There were many reasons, and altogether they are the reasons why anyone should like concrete homes.

So, what was better this year than to show some of the houses people liked to build these last few years, and to demonstrate why they like to live in them?  The pictures and block plans are real houses from everywhere, and show that people have different tastes, all successfully worked out in concrete.  This booklet, with pictures and reasons, is presented with the hope that folks who are planning to build will want to know why so many people like concrete homes; that they may find many reasons why they, too, would like to build a durable firesafe home.”

The Portland Cement Association (1945)

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One response to “Beyond the Third Little Pig

  1. Your final clip from the Portland Cement Assoc. is exactly right on. Every house does have two costs. If people thought more about heating and maintenance when they were building, we would be seeing different homes being built.

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