A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes
In the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s housing developments began peppering the available land outside of Los Angeles. Affordable, family-friendly communities like the San Fernando Valley initiated an exodus to the suburbs. It was in the Valley that designer-builder William Mellenthin developed his singular brand of cozy, charming home which became known as the Mellenthin Birdhouse ranch home—so called because they featured a cupola or dovecote built prominently into the roof. Architect, author and historian, Alan Hess, describes why Mellenthin’s homes were so coveted: “the dovecote, or bird house, (Mellenthin) incorporated prominently into gables facing the public street reinforced the straight-shooting, unpretentious utilitarianism and friendly rural values” of the times.
Gathering information from original Mellenthin homeowners, articles, brochures, as well as the Mellenthin family, A Birdhouse in Paradise reveals many facts and details about this industrious and influential man. The volume features rare photographs and documents (many never seen before) that illustrate a young, burgeoning San Fernando Valley as it became “the new suburban paradise,” as well as floorplans and photographs of the iconic ranch homes.