Mid-century modern architecture is not known for being flashy. Architects in the 1950s and 60s took their inspiration from nature, designing unadorned homes with low sloped roofs and large windows. They may not stand out from the outside, but inside it’s a different story. Saturday’s Mad About Modern Home tour offers a chance to go inside 8 of the city’s mid-century gems. Duncan McFadyen talks to Historic Charlotte executive director Nicole McBeth.
MCFADYEN: So driving by these homes sometimes, you don’t really notice them; you don’t think they’re going to be anything special. Is this tour an attempt to show people these homes really can be spectacular places to live?
MCBETH: It’s deceiving from the curbside. But once you walk in, you really do appreciate the integration of the function as important as the form, and then the elements of nature that come through makes it a fantastic environment to be in.
MCFADYEN:Was this ever the mainstream style of architecture for the city? I know driving through Myers Park, you see these stately colonial homes. Did mid-century ever dominate the type of construction in the city?
MCBETH: In pockets it did. If you go down Providence Road, two of the homes [on the tour] are in the Cloister neighborhood, and that area is pocketed with many mid-century modern and evolved that way. So if you just drive a few miles out from the city center, you would’ve seen it.
MCFADYEN: Let’s talk about a couple of the homes on the tour. First of all there’s the Valencia Terrace home, which you tell me has an interesting story behind it.
MCBETH: Yeah, that’s a wonderful property. So, a young couple gets married, she’s originally from California, he’s from North Carolina. He convinces her to move to the east coast if he builds her a California modern style home. They do, and she remained in the home until the age of 97. Her vision inspired the now new owners to reinterpret it and maintain that mid-century modern style.
MCFADYEN: Another one is a home, or group of homes, it’s the Kimberlee apartments behind Park Road Shopping Center. It looks like it’s still very historically accurate to the architecture.
MCBETH: It is, it’s a wonderful property that I’m sure many people in Charlotte have passed before. It’s a mid-century modern co-op building. And the property that we’re featuring there is two of the original condos have been combined into a lovely penthouse apartment with views of the Sugar Creek Greenway. And it’s maintained a lot of the original features including the canned lighting and hallways, and it’s really cool to see it reinterpreted in 2013.
The Mad About Modern Home Tour is Saturday, May 11, from 10 to 4. Tickets are available for $25 at any of the homes on the tour. There's more information at madaboutmodern.org