The downside of cast plaster is that while it performed well indoors, it usually did not stand up to the weather outdoors. There are still some original cast-plaster letters out there, even on Eichlers 50-plus years old, but by and large they are mounted on houses with protected overhangs. It is for this reason that Eichlernumbers.com introduced replicas of the original Eichler house numbers in weather-resistant, solid-surface Corian.
As it turns out, Eichler had two distinctive visual brands. One was the house number, and the other the 'Eichler script' brush font. The branding value for Eichler was the implication that even the smallest details were considered in crafting his unique dwellings.
For Eichler homeowners, the value after their home purchase, beyond the simple enjoyment of the good looks their house numbers brought, was that they and all their neighbors could wear a badge of exclusivity—a small but unifying element that made Eichler neighborhoods cohesive and 'happening' places to live. As the communication theorist Marshall McLuhan once put it so well, "Print technology changes our perceptual habits ("visual homogenizing of experience"), which in turn affects social interactions."
While it is a requirement to have house numbers plainly visible and attached to the house, not all house numbers in modern neighborhoods are actually mounted to home facades. For instance, many of the homeowners in the Balboa Highlands Eichler tract in Granada Hills have opted for a theme with supplemental house numbers painted white on curbs in front of their homes. Utilizing the Eichler script, and with a nod to Eichler's original numbers, they've branded their homes in a distinctive yet modern way. You know you are in a special place when you cruise that neighborhood.
Mid-century modern houses deserve the complete statement that a proper address can bring. It is truly yet another example of less is more, and a perfect complement to the minimal, unadorned sculpture of your home. Fifty years from now, dwelling units may have a Facebook-compatible, wireless, barcoded, holographic image for their addresses. But for now, we're happy to report, there are still some creative house-number choices out there that serve as ideal crowning touches for the mid-century modern home.
Guest 'House Doc' Carmen Nicholls is a San Jose Eichler homeowner and operator of EichlerNumbers, which produces a spiffy, affordable line of weather-resistant repro house numbers for Eichler and other MCM homes. Online at EichlerNumbers.com.
Photos: courtesy Scot Nicholls