Doelger's Streamline Moderne

Upcoming lecture focuses on builder Henry Doelger's impact on the Bay Area and more
Doelger's Streamline Moderne

Henry Doelger is famed for being the 'Henry Ford' of homebuilding, pioneering mass-produced houses in San Francisco's Sunset district and later in Daly City's Westlake, and becoming the largest homebuilder in America by 1940.

Doelger (1896-1978) isn't known for being a modernist. But how about his 'Styleocrat' model, with flat parapets, glass block walls, and silvery railings around the balcony?

At 6 p.m. Thursday, October 17, San Francisco planner Mary Brown and Woody LaBounty, founder of the Western Neighborhoods Project, will discuss 'Sunset for the Masses: the Influence of Henry Doelger,' at St. Anne of the Sunset, 850 Judah Street, San Francisco. The talk, sponsored by San Francisco Heritage, is $12 for non-members.

One focus of the talk will be Doelger's Streamline Moderne office building. "It's a great landmark to all these merchant builders who developed, what?—a quarter?—a third of San Francisco?" says LaBounty.

Doelger may not have been a pure modernist, but he was building houses with atriums—he called them 'patios'—decades before Joe Eichler did. Doelger also developed techniques of mass production, including prefabricated parts.

His homes "were in the reach of people who couldn't afford homes before that," LaBounty says, adding, "he was a business visionary in figuring a way to get these affordable houses done in an efficient way."

For more on 'Sunset for the Masses,' click here.