Eichler for the Weekends - Page 4

Under a playful blanket of snow, the magical A-frame retreat makes a carefree connection with the ‘real you’
A Frame
In the late 1950s, during the height of the A-frame boom, the Douglas Fir Plywood Association mass-marketed Dr. David Hellyer's "easy-to-build" A-frame cabin plans.

“So that’s when we started looking at Squaw Valley. It was wider and more open.” Soon they were ready to buy a lot. “They were very cheap. I think it was $1,500 or $1,800; this was 1955.”

By chance, the Perlmans met George Rockrise at a dinner party that same year, shortly before they bought their Squaw Valley land. Rockrise had also purchased some land in Squaw on which he was planning to build a vacation cabin of his own, and offered to design one for the Perlmans.

“We talked about it, and he told us about A-frames, which I had never heard of,” Perlman says. “Rockrise made a little model using, as I recall, pieces of shirt cardboard. We were intrigued, and he said it could be built very cheaply.” The home was completed in summer 1955.

A year-and-a-half later, photographer Ernie Braun’s equally intriguing image of the Perlman house, featured on the cover of Sunset, ushered in the A-frame’s ascent into California trendiness.

Perlman’s intersecting A-frame differed from the traditional structure by basically sticking two rectangular A-frames together. The design allowed for not only more space, but also more light through the windows at each of the three ends.

The end facing Squaw Valley featured a glass wall that afforded a view across the meadow from the living room. A second-story loft housed bedrooms at the peak of the triangular roof, but it didn’t extend into the large, open area of the main living room.

“The way we furnished it, we never lost sight of that wonderful view,” Perlman says. “I’m getting very sentimental thinking about it. I would lie on that couch and look at that soaring triangular space, up to the top. It was a wonderful space to be under.”

Upstairs, the magic continued, Perlman recalls. “We had this wonderful view looking westward toward a bunch of trees. The nearest house was partly hidden, and the rest of it was the lovely expanse of the peaks above Squaw Valley.”

The space was great for parties, which Perlman and his wife Anne loved to host. “And we made back some of the expense of building the house by leasing it out during the 1960 Olympics,” Perlman says.

“Our tenant then was Mrs. Harrah, of Harrah’s club in Reno. Our house had a view across the valley toward the ski jump. The Harrahs used it to hold cocktail parties, because it was so striking and had a nice bar and wonderful fireplace.”

Sadly, the Perlman house was torn down after David Perlman sold it in 2003. The new owners wanted something bigger, and it didn’t work for them to add on.

But Rockrise’s own house remains. Not exactly an A-frame, it works as something of a cross between the Klaussen house and Perlman’s house. Intersecting diagonal rooflines create prow-shaped windows on each corner, providing copious light and a dramatic look.

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