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Postwar Homes

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The Post-War Styles, 1945 - 1968



dallas m streets post war home

Construction of homes (and formation of new families) was virtually shut down during the war years of 1943-1945, as the nation mobilized all its resources for war. When World War II ended, hundreds of thousands of young veterans came back home, married their sweethearts, and began looking for a place to live. There was a tremendous burst of pent-up demand for housing of all sorts. Anything a builder could knock together would be snapped up immediately. There was a real possibility that millions of substandard homes would be built.

The Federal government created the Federal Housing Administration in order to achieve two goals: 1) To make it easy for mortgage lenders to loan more money with lower down payments, and 2) to set up nationwide building standards and provide a means of enforcing them.

Older neighborhoods such as Vickery Place and Greenland Hills still had a few vacant lots at the end of World War II, but they were filled in no time. Hundreds of new neighborhoods were laid out all around the perimeter of Dallas, and they filled up in record time. The postwar economic expansion combined with the "baby boom" to create a new era in the housing industry which extends right through to today.

LOW INTEREST IN REVIVAL STYLES

The new postwar mass market of homebuyers had no particular interest in historical revival styles such as "Tudor" or "Mediterranean." This was the "jet age," and it seemed only proper that homes should be "streamlined" by stripping them of all vestiges of historic architectural detail.

With economic and social factors creating such an overheated housing market, the years immediately following the war were not a time of great design philosophy, but rather a time for experimentation with new building materials. Asbestos and asphalt shingles, steel windows, aluminum siding, concrete blocks, and plywood were the products of the redirected war industries. The goal was to build fast and cheap. American technology allowed builders within this time period to build an average house for ten dollars per square foot.

Lot Sizes

The first subdivisions laid out after the war had substantially the same lot dimensions as the subdivisions of the past. Most lots were approximately 50 feet wide by 150 feet deep. But the growing demand for homes with a long, low profile led to a change to 60 ft. by 125 ft. lots.

Minimal Traditionals

The exterior styles in the typical new subdivision sought to reflect a vision of the future. The florid architectural detailing so typical of homes from the 1920's came to be regarded as clutter. It was eliminated, and the result was a look that is now classified as the "minimal traditional style". This style borrowed loosely from either Tudor or NeoColonial antecedents, but the pitch of the roof was lowered in order to emphasis the horizontal line (and, just as important, to save construction dollars). There was usually a single gable facing the street. A small porch was provided to shelter the entry door from the rain, but the big outdoor living porches of the twenties disappeared. The old ganged windows of the 1920's had begun to disappear during the Depression years, and they were now replaced almost totally by single units. Corner windows were also commonly used.

dallas real estate m streets

dallas real estate m streets

Street Views Of Postwar Traditional Homes

Ranch Houses

Beginning about 1950, the so-called "ranch house" began to make an appearance. These are one story homes, with very low roofs and usually no gable. Overhangs are deep. They are generally two rooms deep and as many as four to five rooms in width. Windows are high and horizontal. The garage, or carport, is often attached to the house. Vickery Place's version of the ranch house is 5133 Goodwin, 5133 Vickery, and 2611 Madera. Relatively few homes in Vickery Place were built in these styles, partly because their wide-but-shallow floorplans were not well suited to the 50-foot-wide lots in neighborhoods laid out before World War II. In the newer postwar subdivisions, lots were made wider, (but not quite so deep) in order to accommodate the new home styles.

FHA and VA

The post war economic boom, the newly created Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Veterans' Administration (VA) loan programs, and the Interstate Freeway system, fostered the explosion of new suburbs. The new suburbs could offer larger houses, more bathrooms, and newer schools. Families moved to the new suburbs. The older inner city suburbs, with their craftsman bungalows, tudor cottages, and prairie style two-story homes, lost favor with the homebuyers of the 1950's and 1960's.

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