Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pacific Design in St. Louis, Missouri

As I have mentioned previously, I find a lot of my information in old magazines. Last year I discovered American Builder and it is a gold mine of information on popular deisgns for residential and commercial construction from back in the day.

American Builder, Nov. 1961

As I was trying to track down a lead for this story last year, I discovered that the magazine published two different issues each month, a Western issue (for builders in California, Colorado, Arizona, etc) and a second version for the builders in the Eastern half of the United States. I only had access to the Western issues here at a local University archive, but my friend Nathan in St. Louis, helped me out and sent me the information I was looking for in the Northern issue from August 1959 along with some additional background information about the builder. Thanks Nathan!

Stop by and check out his nice website to promote preservation and appreciation of Mid Century design in the St. Louis area Modern-STL.com

St. Louis had its share of well known tiki establishments, including The Mainlander and Trader Vic's at the Bel Air East Hotel. But what's not commonly known is that this midwest city also tried its hand at building Pacific styled residential homes. While in some parts of the country, Pacific or Hawaiian style tract home subdivisions were all the rage (specifically Southern California) it was quite a different story in the conservative midwest in the early 1960s.

American Builder, August 1959 (Northern Issue)

I don't think its a coincidence that this article ran in August 1959, the same month that Hawaii became the 50th State and mainland American was going crazy for anything Hawaiian.

Designed by Robert 'Bud' Krieckhaus

This house was built in the Harwood Hills Subdivision by the Burton Duenke Building Company (the pictured house still stands and remains mostly unaltered today). Duenke was largely responsible for bringing the 'modern' ranch home to St. Louis, eventually building hundreds of homes in the area.

I love the builders comment about the public's reaction to the style as a violent liking or disliking!

The short article also ran a few construction details on how to construct the Dickey roof line (remember, this is a trade magazine).

Around the same time that this article was published, Burton Duenke was also heavily involved in developing the Lake of the Ozarks as a tourist destination, and construction of his Tan-Tar-A resort (approx. 140 miles southwest of St. Louis). The resort was somewhat a result of Duenke's travels, which may also explain the idea for a Pacific-Style home in St, Louis.

Take a closer look at the above picture of the resort and you will find traces of exotic rooflines...

You can also see the exotic influence in the roof and extended decorative ridge beam in the restaurant.

At Tan-Tar-A, Duenke also built the Happy House outdoor restaurant and lounge.

No traces of tiki, but they did have some Japanese glass floats hanging from the ceiling

A quote from the back of restaurant postcard reads "The Happy House brings exotic South Sea Island atmosphere to Tan-Tar-A resort."

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