Pre-Fab, Fifty Years Later

Pre-Fab, Fifty Years Later

Jul 22, 2008

It was the modernist Holy Grail – a prefab, vintage 1958. An aluminum home with wood interiors built by Alcoa and designed by Charles M. Goodman, it awaited at a very possible price. It had post and beam construction, an open plan covered in oak, redwood and cypress. All at 3500 finished square feet. "Do you realize how much this would cost on the coasts?!"

Sure, it was in the burbs, but first tier. Maybe we could transition to no restaurants and a commute… past the micro-ranches. It hadn't make its auction price, but that was clearly because no one understood it.

Then we arrived. And saw what happens when pre-fab ages into less-fab.

The good:

Living areas were almost as great as the well-staged and lit photos
(as for the built-ins: Paging BluDot!).

A welcome welcome.
Mid-century details like this on the aluminum window exterior were seductive.

The bad:

Wear had tear – twisted, tetanus-inducing trim, a raw pipe where there was a bathroom sink, and ghost-residue of ex-decals on cabinets. Then there was the damage done to the otherwise amazing aluminum closet doors.

Hollow-core doors showed what happens when affordable materials get abused.
The carport had a great California feel—but wouldn't at -10 Fahrenheit.

The fugly:

Purple was an interesting choice.

The kitchen felt like a dropped-in model, with an unfortunate 20+ year-old counter update.

The intact baths felt like a bad motor-inn. The whites didn't match the creams. The other was the same, in institutional yellow.

The basement had a neglected social hall/failed key-party vibe.

We left with a last, longing look at that lovely living room and closed the fantastically oversized front door. Is there someone willing to sink some serious money into the most expensive house on the block? If so:

Review the listing.

See other pics and hear a third-party audio review of the home.

Photos: front, thumbnail and top Sotheby's

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