New CA-Modern Is in the Mail

Fall ’16 issue explores culture, construction as the basic components of today’s MCM life
New CA-Modern Is in the Mail
From mahogany paneling to flat roofs to a San Jose Eichler community that draws identity from shared modern design—all at the heart of the new fall 2016 issue
of CA-Modern magazine, available now. Our cover story profiles San Jose’s Morepark, whose newcomers include the Blaine family (pictured above): Keith, Megan, and baby Henry. Photo by James Fanucchi
New CA-Modern Is in the Mail
New fall '16 CA-Modern.
New CA-Modern Is in the Mail
Give lauan some love!
New CA-Modern Is in the Mail
Bay Area building legend Earl 'Flat Top' Smith (center). Photo courtesy Duncan Smith

Mahogany wall paneling, flat roofs, a community that draws identity from shared modern design—all these basic components of Eichler homes are explored in the new fall 2016 issue of the Eichler Network's CA-Modern magazine.

"What sets the neighborhood apart is, we're all excited to be here, and we're all trying to make it so much better," one Eichler resident tells features editor Dave Weinstein in the cover story, which explores the history of San Jose's first Eichler tract, originally known as Morepark.

In addition to that, the magazine includes stories on mid-century Bay Area residential building legend Earl 'Flat Top' Smith, the fascinating art of photographer Stephen Albair, new historic status for a special Eichler home, options for home fireplace installation, reviews of the latest books and recordings of modern culture, and a feature exploring the lure and the shortcomings of Eichler's trademark Philippine mahogany paneling.

The discussion of Eichler's original mahogany wall paneling actually gets kicked off in 'Morepark on the Move,' the issue's story on San Jose's Morepark. The 89 three-bedroom homes there were built on three parallel avenues in the early 1950s. They are smaller and concurrently cheaper than most Eichlers built after them, a fact which continues to attract buyers in the Bay Area's highly competitive home market.

"It was really important for Adam to keep this wall," one Morepark resident says of her husband's determination to preserve the only mahogany wall left in their newly purchased home, which originally had all paneling and no sheetrock whatsoever. "He wanted to keep the character of the Eichler house."

Another resident of Morepark, located in San Jose's Rose Glen neighborhood, comments, "The house is all lauan [mahogany] and, especially on a summer day, it feels like a retreat."

A separate Weinstein story extensively explores 'Lauan's Lost Love,' posing the question: why have so many Eichler owners today shunned their homes original paneling, transforming their walls "smooth and white, the wood panels either painted over, covered with gypsum sheetrock, or removed entirely"? There's also discussion of the wood's unfortunate vulnerability to fire and fading over the decades, as well its controversy about not being genuine mahogany at all.

Of course, another prominent characteristic of Eichlers is the flat roof, which was also a trademark of most of the 25,000 homes built by the legendary Earl Smith. Smith was nicknamed 'Flat Top' for his personal design and construction of what he termed "economy homes in a modern motif" from the late 1940s to the late '60s throughout Northern and Central California.

Smith's story is profiled in our in-depth feature 'King of the Flat-tops.'

"He felt the need of the blue-collar worker, and also for the guy who came back from World War II," says Duncan Smith of his father's homes, which generally cost about $7,000 back then. "They needed houses."