Growing up in the Dallas suburbs, the ranch house was ubiquitous. It’s what the word “suburb” means to me. I see a ranch house and I see yellowed summer days, neat little lawns, abutting fences and paved driveways with little pieces of broken glass just waiting to lodge in the unsuspecting foot of a kid running to the front door for lunch – baloney sandwiches on Wonder with yellow mustard. (Forgive me, but there has been steady snow, more than a foot, over the last 24 hours and I am a bit snow-blind, desperate for a warm day, if only in memory.)
For the record, seeing the proliferation of McMansions that have sprouted like weeds across the nation, I do believe these houses are worthy of preservation and historical designation.
I’ve been to Tucson a few times, and find it to be a pretty groovy – if funky – little town. It rambles and has a certain endearing shabbiness to it. It also has some of the coolest looking post-war neighborhoods you’ll ever come across, with bright colors and – believe it or not – totally pleasing ranch architecture.
I’ve always found that the ranch house spoke to the American boom of the the 1950s, when millions of Americans were able to buy houses and settle areas that were pretty inhospitable, at least by today’s suburban standards. The best of ranch house architecture embodies the Usonian ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright, and speaks to the master’s philosophy. They have open living spaces, open fire places and large windows onto the backyard, even if it’s just scrub or hardpan with a rusting swingset. The worst have that horrible peeling green carpet that everything in the 1970s seemed to have.
Take a look and decide for yourself.