Birdhouse in Paradise

William Mellenthin Builder

Legendary Builder and Contractor of San Fernando Valley Birdhouse Ranch Homes

William Mellenthin (1896-1979) built over 3,000 homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley from the 1920s to the 1960s. He is known for building quality homes in a variety of architectural styles. Mellenthin is most remembered for his “Birdhouse” ranch homes in the Valley that featured a cupola built prominently into the roofs of his homes. These homes can be found throughout the Valley, and are still sought after by homebuyers today. A Mellenthin “Birdhouse” is a uniquely styled home of mid-century design.


1953 birdhouse

“As a San Fernando Valley builder after the war, Mellenthin kept pace with the democratizing influence of the Ranch House. The dovecote, or bird house, he incorporated prominently into gables facing the public street reinforced the straight-shooting, unpretentious utilitarianism and friendly rural values that the suburbs — and their builders, developers, and architects — clamored to reflect.”

Alan Hess, architect, author, lecturer and advocate for twentieth-century architectural preservation

A Birdhouse in Paradise. If you grew up in the San Fernando Valley, you probably knew someone who lived in a Mellenthin home.

“By combining the indoor-outdoor domestic spaces, rambling floor plans, and sturdy construction methods, the Midwesterner (William Mellenthin) became a force to be reckoned with during the nascent real estate bonanza that engulfed the region in the immediate postwar era. Until recently, however, Mellenthin’s work had been largely forgotten due to its humble qualities and the ubiquity of the dovecote style in the San Fernando Valley, following the wholesale adoption of his “birdhouse” treatments by other contemporaneous builders. Nonetheless, interest in Mellenthin’s work is increasing, especially as real estate prices continue to climb around the region.”

— Antonio Pacheco, West Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper