Mid-Century Moderns in Salem
Generally, the conversation goes something like this…
“I don’t want a cookie-cutter house.” Period, end of story. As the conversation flows, inevitably a potential client sends me a link to a mid-century modern home; that is what they are looking for in the area. Homebuyers looking for mid-century moderns in Salem are a specific homebuyer demographic. Sleek lines, earthy elements, and natural light are important design factors to them.
Salem didn’t grow quite as quickly during the 1950-1960 decade and so while we have some midcentury modern homes, we don’t have a lot of them. There is quite a bit of demand for these unique homes, and they tend to sell quickly. They are located in just a couple of neighborhoods in Salem, built into hillsides and on top of ridges to take advantage of Cascade or Coastal Range views.
The local architects that designed mid-century modern homes
Philip Settecase, a local architect, designed several of these homes in the Candalaria and Laurel Springs neighborhood. He used wood elements extensively, used pebble rocks for an entry floor in one, and designed the wall of windows that tends to be a defining characteristic of these homes. He is probably the most prolific of the local architects for this design style.
In 1956, the Williamsons hired Edwin MacCollin to design them a home that took advantage of the views from their lot on Mulberry in Candalaria. Edwin went to work and created the star house. Yes, if you look down at the roof, the home is indeed shaped like a star. Even the front door is unusual. The front door is made up of two slender doors that open together and connect at a right angle. There is nothing cookie-cutter about this house.
The star house
Wilbur Wilmot, also a local architect, designed a great MCM in Candalaria. It was his own home that was a tri-level with gorgeous wood ceilings and stairs in the center of the home that wound around an interior opening for a tree. The accent lighting around the home is a nice touch at dusk and brings added highlights to the exterior of the home.
The Arrowhead, named and designed by architect W.A. Wollander, is a custom-designed house focusing on the concept of “occupant zoning.” The main living area, master bedroom, and guest room were designed to be upstairs for the adult space, and the kid’s bedrooms, bathrooms, and family room downstairs for their space. The intercom system installed in the home so parents could monitor their kids since nanny cams didn’t exist in 1963. The arrowhead roof was specifically designed to allow water to flow down to the point during the rains to create a waterfall off the tip of the arrow. The architecture is distinctive, and driving around the neighborhood, this home is easy to spot.
In 1957, the Embick family built a home with a barrel ceiling on Holiday in Candalaria. The exterior looks like a typical MCM with the flatter rooflines and large front windows. Inside, the unique living space with the wood beams masterfully crafted into a half-barrel shape adorns the living room and main floor master bedroom. The large windows blend the interior and exterior spaces in the traditional MCM style.
While these are not all of the architects and mid-century moderns in Salem Oregon, these are some classic examples of what you can find in the city if MCMs are what you are looking to purchase. Homes designed to maximize views or to work with the slope of the lot are always interesting to see from this era.
Written by Melina Tomson-a vintage home specialist and sells MCM and vintage homes in the Salem metro area. You can see samples of the MCMs sold here.