William Mellenthin, Home Builder & Designer
Legendary Builder and Contractor of San Fernando Valley Birdhouse Ranch Homes
William Mellenthin (1896-1979) built thousands of homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. He worked 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. These homes featured a cupola built prominently into the roof of the home. These homes can be found throughout the Valley, and are still popular with homebuyers today. A Mellenthin “Birdhouse” is a uniquely styled home of mid-century design—more traditional than modern. Mellenthin built homes as far north as Montecito, and south to Orange County. Some of the Mellenthin/Bachman homes can also be found in San Marino. There is also a home that Mellenthin designed for a woman in Nebraska. His son, Mike Mellenthin, built homes just like his father.
“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 and lecturer
“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
A Mellenthin sign was featured in an old episode of Highway Patrol.