Mid-Century Modern Houses Driving Tour

This tour features the work of architects who were leaders in the development of Modern design such as Richard Neutra, Harwell Hamilton Harris, and John Lautner, as well as the prominent local firm of Buff & Hensman (some with their early partner Calvin Straub), one of the influential Case Study Program houses, and a rare example of an experimental design by Wallace Neff.

Mobile Tours

These residences include early examples from the 1930s as well as from the post WW II building boom in Southern California – expressing the era’s new sensibilities about structure, materials, and open plans, with efficient designs to meet family needs and tight budgets, while celebrating their connection to the Southern California setting.  Much of the Pasadena area was already built up by the middle of the 20th century, and the development of challenging sites such as hillsides provided dramatic settings for some of these outstanding examples of International and Modern style homes.

Historian Alson Clark wrote that “The postwar Pasadenans managed to combine, successfully, creatively, the post-and-beam rationalism which ultimately came from Neutra, the Arts-and-Crafts tradition of Wright and the Greenes, and the high standards of design and technique perpetuated here by architects like Myron Hunt, Reginald Johnson and Roland Coate into a fresh, convincing expression of residential architecture.”

(Please note that the yards and driveways of these homes is private property, and exercise caution when stopping  to look at homes on narrow hillside streets.)

You can click on any property in the list below to jump to information about that property in the California Historical Resources Inventory Database.  Known as the CHRID, this program promotes and protects cultural heritage through documenting and sharing information on historical resources.

1.  Schonbach House, 701 Linda Vista Avenue (Link)
Built in 1948, this post-and-beam Modern house designed by Leland Evison makes excellent use of its siting.

2.  Kubly House, 215 La Vereda Road (Link)
A 1965 home designed in the International style by Craig Ellwood & Associates, who also designed the Art Center College of Design building at 1700 Lida Street.

3.  John Kelsey Residence, 1160 Chateau Road (Link)
Located on a winding road, this 1962 Mid-Century Modern Style house was designed by John F. Kelsey for his own family.

4.  Bea House #2, 145 Patrician Way (Link)
This 1956 Mid-Century Modern Style home featuring post-and-beam construction and extensive glazing was designed by Buff & Hensman.

5.  Rose House, 222 Cherry Drive (Link)
Designed by Richard Rose, this International /Modern style house was built in 1964.

6.  1444 Poppy Peak Drive (Link)
This 1936 minimalist Modern Ranch house by Harwell Hamilton Harris was moved to the current location in 1951 and re-sited by architect Leland Evison.

7.  1525 Poppy Peak Drive Link)
Designed in 1957 by Kenneth Nishimoto for family members, this house is in the Mid-Century Modern style, with Japanese influences.

8.  Constance M. Perkins House, 1540 Poppy Peak Drive (Link)
Designed by Richard Neutra, this 1955 International/Modern style house and studio utilizes his signature “spider leg” extensions of its structural members. It was the first house designed as a Historic Treasure (now called Historic Monument) by the City of Pasadena.

9.  Wirick House, 1617 Pleasant Way (Link)
Considered one of the definitive works of Buff, Straub & Hensman, this 1958 post-and-beam house is in the Mid-Century Modern style.

10.  Graham Laing House, 1642 Pleasant Way (Link)
The 1935 Laing House by Harwell Hamilton Harris is a classic example of early Modernism, and has been called “simplified Wright”.

11.  Norton House, 820 Burleigh Drive (Link)
This post-and-beam house in the Mid-Century Modern style was designed by Buff & Hensman in 1954.

12.  Dahlstrom House, 780 Laguna Road (Link)
A 1949 design by John Lautner in the International/Modern style.  This is the only house in Pasadena by John Lautner, whose iconic floating octagonal “Chemosphere” house in Silverlake is one of the most recognized houses from the mid-century modern period.

13.  Puelicher House, 901 Laguna Road (Link)
This International/Modern style house designed by Boyd Georgi in 1960 floats above the stream that parallels Laguna Road.

14.  810 Hillside Terrace (Link)
This 1954 California Modern house with Japanese influences was designed by Harry Sims Bent and features unique Japanese-influenced concrete screens and a carved wood front door.

15.  Case Study House #10, 711 S. San Rafael Avenue (Link)
One of the earliest “Case Study House Program” projects sponsored by Arts  & Architecture magazine utilizing prominent new architects to explore post-WW II housing solutions using new materials to meet the needs of the average family, this is a 1947 International/Modern design by Kemper Nomland and Kemper Nomland, Jr.

16.  Dubnoff House, 1150 La Loma Road (Link)
This unique post-and-beam design by the firm of Buff, Straub & Hensman was built in 1960.

17.  Smith House, 1175 La Loma Road (Link)
This Mid-Century Modern style house was designed in 1961 by Dennis Smith, who later joined the Buff & Hensman firm.

18.  1035 Lagunita Road (Link)
This 1958 International/Modern style house includes Aztec detailing at the garage wing.

19.  Frank House, 919 La Loma Road (Link)
This 1957 post-and-beam design by Buff, Straub & Hensman is in Mid-Century Modern style.

20.  1060 Stoneridge Drive (Link)
This Mid-Century Modern style house was designed by Carl Maston and built in 1956.

21.  480 Madeline Drive (Link)
This 1961 house in the New Formalism style incorporates Moorish elements, and was designed by P.J. Ellerbroek.

22.   Wallace Neff Bubble House, 1097 S. Los Robles Avenue (Link)
One of the only remaining “Airform” houses created by Wallace Neff, this house was designed in 1947. In response to a shortage of building materials during WW II, it was created by spraying gunnite concrete onto a rubberized balloon structure.

23.  Sechler House, 670 Alpine Street (Link)
This 1954 International/Modern style house by Nyberg & Bissner utilizes post-and-beam construction with large areas of glazing.

24.  Spencer House, Culbertson House Accessory Structures, 875 Canon Drive (Link)
This 1952 International/Modern design by Smith &Williams, which incorporates accessory structures that were originally part of the 1911 Cordelia Culbertson House (Greene & Greene,) is an outstanding response to its wooded site and existing features.

Mid-Century Modern Houses Driving Tour Map