(Kansas City, Missouri) - The ranch house became an integral part of the vocabulary of the U.S. housing market after World War II, when the demand for a single-family home reached record levels. Among the converts were builders and buyers in Johnson County, Kansas.
Today, there is a resurgence of interest in this modernistic, uniquely American architectural creation and a new generation of homebuyers is discovering its allure. Mary van Balgooy, a leading authority on the ranch house and biographer of influential architect and ranch house pioneer Cliff May, discusses the legendary builder, the ranch home's influences and features, and the race to preserve it on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
The presentation, The Postwar Dream Home: The Ranch House, begins at 6:30 p.m.
By 1945 and the end of World War II, Americans were brimming with optimism and embracing progress and innovation. Homes and other buildings of the era reflected that, and the concept of the California ranch house - incorporating elements of modernism, built out rather than up - spread eastward across the country. Historians trace its inception to May, a California architect who favored livability over façade and built a one-story, tile-roofed courtyard home on speculation in San Diego in 1931.
Though popular taste embraced other types and styles of houses by the 1960s, architects, builders, and developers had so exhaustively and effectively promoted the ranch house that it remained one of the most dominant architectural forms in the nation's suburban landscape.
Van Balgooy, a frequent speaker and consultant on the interpretation of 20th century domestic architecture, is an award-winning museum professional who has worked in a variety of institutions including historical societies, preservation organizations, universities, and governmental agencies. She was collections manager for the U.S. Supreme Court from 2002-08, worked nearly six years as executive director of Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation in Rockville, Maryland, and currently is executive director of the Society of Woman Geographers.
The event—co-sponsored by the Johnson County Museum Foundation and the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust—coincides with the museum's exhibit What Is Modernism? on display through November 21, 2015.
A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.