There are over 4,000 Mid-century Modern homes in Redlands, how did they get here? Redlands is well known for its wealth of Victorian homes. We all know they came from wealthy migrants from the East and Mid-west, who built mansions on acres of orange groves.
From the 1950s forward, those groves were incrementally subdivided into smaller parcels and sold off to more middle class individuals, who built appropriately smaller homes and also developers who built tracts of new modern homes with garages!
What was it about the homes built during that time that was significant in history? In the US, the Modern Movement proliferated in the 1950s, ushering in the post World War II boom. The post war era created a huge middle class due to GI Bill benefits, robust employment and good wages, which allowed regular people to build custom homes. And so, Mid-century Modern Architecture was as much a part of a social movement as an architectural expression.
Prior to that, architects worldwide embraced a new paradigm, which grew from the Dutch De Stijl, and German Bauhaus movements and was ultimately coined the International Style by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russel Hitchcock at an exhibition of European architects’ work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
This new architecture was about mass production, new materials, clean lines, simplicity and integration with nature. Key components included exposed structural systems, open floor plans, flat roofs, walls of glass and simple, affordable materials. Form was to follow function.
Many sought out young architects, who in Southern California had worked under European masters such as Rudolph Schindler, who came to Los Angeles in 1920 to work for Frank Lloyd Wright on the Barnsdall House in Hollywood and Richard Neutra who came to LA in 1925 to work with Rudolph Schindler on the Lovell Health House in Newport Beach.
What spurred the proliferation of modern homes was the Influential magazine “Arts and Architecture”. In January 1945, the magazine initiated the “Case Study” program, a commission of modern homes whereby major architects of the day were to submit designs to be built mostly for Southern California sites. The program ran until 1966. The house designs appeared in the magazine. The black and white photos published were provided by architectural photographer Julius Shulman.
The model homes were to use inexpensive and efficient new materials and construction methods to build millions of mass-produced homes to satisfy the post WWII housing boom. Ten of the houses built in Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura Counties are currently on the National Register of Historic Places. They were formally listed July 24, 2013.
The architect of 221 Mariposa was Claire Henry Day. Clare Day was born in 1920 in Fort Lewis, WA, from a Pennsylvania Dutch and Scots-Irish family. Clare’s family moved to Ohio where Clare attended the University of Cincinnati in 1938, studying architecture and urban planning. Clare won the Lincoln Memorial Student competition and graduated with honors in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.
Clare found his calling as part of the Modern Movement in San Bernardino County in the 1950’s. He started his own practice and started designing custom homes. He designed 35 private and 104 public buildings from the early 1950s to the mid-1980s.
Clare Henry Day created a legacy of architectural and master planning projects in Redlands and throughout the east San Bernardino Valley. His Redlands projects include the Smiley Elementary Multi-Purpose Building, Clement Junior High School, Redlands High School Boys Gym and the home of Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, as well as many others. In 1996, Clare became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, where after many years, he became president. In 2007 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Inland Chapter of the AIA.
The Robert G. Campbell Family were the first owners of 221 Mariposa. They hired general contractor Swen Larson to build the home. Mr. Larson was at one time, the mayor of Redlands, between 1993 and 1995.
Robert G. Campbell held many positions of prominence in Redlands himself. He was Principal of Cope Junior High, as well as a counselor, teacher and principal at Redlands High School, an administrator and ultimately, the Assistant Superintendent at Redlands School District. He was married to Elizabeth (Rita) H. Campbell and had two children.
Robert Campbell III died July 4, 1985 and sole ownership went to his wife, Rita, who passed away October 5, 2009. After her death, ownership changed to Stefan & Virginia Balbo on May 24, 2010. The following alterations were done by the Balbo Family: new roofing and HVAC in 2010 and new plumbing in 2011.
The Balbo Family sold the house to the Mee Family, Eric and Courtney on May 17, 2019. The Mee’s have done extensive renovations both inside and out, but have retained as much of the original house as possible. Both the interior and exterior were sensitively and appropriately scaled and designed to seamlessly integrate the original remaining components with contemporary aesthetics. The most recent permit was for a new swimming pool in 2021, which completed renovations to date.
The main components of the three-bedroom, two-bath, 2,986 Square foot house are: the open plan, the seamless integration of interior to the exterior landscape, the visual expression of structural system, i.e., exposed columns and beams, the use of ordinary and common off-the shelf materials that were new to the market at the time.
Features of the Home
● Roof: Flat roof with deep overhangs
● Foundation: Concrete slab
● Structural System: Exposed posts
● Floor Plan: Open floor plan
● Windows: Floor to ceiling glass
● Landscaping: Patterned block screen wall, exposed aggregate concrete paving
● Sited to highlight panoramic views
● 23,958/0.55 acre lot
● Wood frame construction w/ stacked concrete block, exposed aggregate concrete, overhang for shade on east and west sides, privacy screen on west side at family room (added)
● Interior patterned block screen wall (divides family room from dining room)
Researched and written by Mike Albanese and Michelle Hong
Presented 12 June 2023