Mid-Century Real Estate Question: The Carport Enigma. Why Are Most Mid Century Modern Homes Built Without Regular Garages?

Mid Century fanatics out there, can you tell us? I was born in the (ahem, way latter) part of the mid-century and grew up with this stuff and in a tri-level home. But in Chicago, bet your booty we had a garage! Anyone know why most mid centuries in Dallas and Cali come with carports instead of garages? Where did the carport originate anyhow? Speaking of, I drove by the “Bruce Goff House that is not a Bruce Goff House” the other day at 7507 Baxtershire, JanMar, Dallas’s famous round house. They have completely removed the dome in front.

Actually, they did this prior to selling. The home was last listed with David Nichols, Mathews-Nichols at Allie Beth Allman, was last in MLS for $899,000. Ohhh this puppy started out at $1,150,000. The story is that Bruce Goff designed it, but that has never been confirmed. I wonder if taking down the tree trellis helped move it. It closed in February of 2011 and is on DCAD for $651,000, which indicates that the selling price was somewhat lower than $899,000.

The  “Round House” as legend has it was commissioned by a Dallas bon vivante named Eddie Parker. Built in 1961, the home is loaded with 1960s-era materials such as bamboo, rattan, and Hawaiian mahogany. Amenities include an indoor pool, five bedrooms, four bathrooms, four living areas, and, at one time,  a wisteria-covered steel dome over the circular motor-court. Additional touches include mosaic murals and 24-karat gold-dipped ceramic tiles in the main living area. Oh yes, and a carport, which brought me to this conversation!

27 Comment

  • I thought that dome was pretty cool. Wonder why they took it down?

  • I thought that dome was pretty cool. Wonder why they took it down?

  • I would like to know what they did with the dome!

  • I would like to know what they did with the dome!

  • They were usually really cheap houses when they were the smaller ones. Crime was much lower, doors unlocked. We looked at quite a bit of these about 10 years ago when we thought we wanted that style. The lack of a garage was always a deal killer. It's sad now as there are so many cool looking designs of smaller and larger homes in Dallas, but they are totally falling apart.

  • They were usually really cheap houses when they were the smaller ones. Crime was much lower, doors unlocked. We looked at quite a bit of these about 10 years ago when we thought we wanted that style. The lack of a garage was always a deal killer. It's sad now as there are so many cool looking designs of smaller and larger homes in Dallas, but they are totally falling apart.

  • I would think it would be more in the line of showing off you auto as part of your lifestyle. Remember the big fins of the 50's cars. Also this type of architecture was a new way to look at things, streamline, ridding oneself of unnecessary things.

  • I would think it would be more in the line of showing off you auto as part of your lifestyle. Remember the big fins of the 50's cars. Also this type of architecture was a new way to look at things, streamline, ridding oneself of unnecessary things.

  • Actually – in the era of Mid-Century architecture, which began in the 50's – showing off cars was a symbol of wealth, and even the higher-end homes put garages and their entries at the front of the building, so TC is right. At the same time, many of the architects at the time wanted to create a sense of community – people would load/unload their groceries in the front of the home and neighbors could see when someone was home. The Eichler communities in California are perfect examples for this.

  • Actually – in the era of Mid-Century architecture, which began in the 50's – showing off cars was a symbol of wealth, and even the higher-end homes put garages and their entries at the front of the building, so TC is right. At the same time, many of the architects at the time wanted to create a sense of community – people would load/unload their groceries in the front of the home and neighbors could see when someone was home. The Eichler communities in California are perfect examples for this.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have created the concept of a carport. He and many of his architect followers did not like the imposing look of garages. Carports are more open, airy and lighter and thus fit into the open floorplan concept by extending it to the carport. There are many positives to the carport, such as helping to elminate junk and clutter…which also keeps them clear for parking your car…wow!!! How many people do we all know that have two car garages full of crap and their cars are sitting outside.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have created the concept of a carport. He and many of his architect followers did not like the imposing look of garages. Carports are more open, airy and lighter and thus fit into the open floorplan concept by extending it to the carport. There are many positives to the carport, such as helping to elminate junk and clutter…which also keeps them clear for parking your car…wow!!! How many people do we all know that have two car garages full of crap and their cars are sitting outside.

  • So now we know the rest of the story on the carports. I can understand the whys a lot better. Personally we do keep both of our cars in our 2 car garage (with an over sized width) because of the need to keep the cars protected from the high winds, hail and/or tornado storms, like tonight. Hoping our garage doesn't get converted to a carport tonight with this bad line of storms.

  • So now we know the rest of the story on the carports. I can understand the whys a lot better. Personally we do keep both of our cars in our 2 car garage (with an over sized width) because of the need to keep the cars protected from the high winds, hail and/or tornado storms, like tonight. Hoping our garage doesn't get converted to a carport tonight with this bad line of storms.

  • It was an architectural decision to make the home seem lighter and like it was hovering.The garage with a door appears heavier and more solid. Look at Richard Nuetra houses and other examples. Also the modernist mid-century homes came into full bloom in the Sunbelt; Florida, Arizona, California, etc – less need for the garage. It was mainly an aesthetic decision if you read the eras architectural treatises.

  • It was an architectural decision to make the home seem lighter and like it was hovering.The garage with a door appears heavier and more solid. Look at Richard Nuetra houses and other examples. Also the modernist mid-century homes came into full bloom in the Sunbelt; Florida, Arizona, California, etc – less need for the garage. It was mainly an aesthetic decision if you read the eras architectural treatises.

  • Marc, Ed, Al, thanks for all these great responses. Very interesting! I figured it had something to do with milder weather because the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park, Ill. has a garage. I have forgotten if Farnsworth House does or not.

  • mm

    Marc, Ed, Al, thanks for all these great responses. Very interesting! I figured it had something to do with milder weather because the Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oak Park, Ill. has a garage. I have forgotten if Farnsworth House does or not.

  • Farnsworth House does not have a garage, and it gets very, very snowy in rural Illinois: http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm

  • mm

    Farnsworth House does not have a garage, and it gets very, very snowy in rural Illinois: http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/history.htm

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  • Farnsworth House doesn’t have a garage OR carport! What a pity that the dome of Goff’s house was removed! It created an ethereal, uplifting space.