Society of Architectural Historians – Book Review


A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes 
by Chris Lukather 
Foreword by Alan Hess

A paean to the humble vernacular ranch house, this book explores a builder responsible for more than 3,000 homes from the 1940s to the ’60s. Mellethin Birdhouse homes—named for their distinctive roof ornament—were more traditional and less celebrated than Eichler Homes. The author discovered them on his personal house hunt, and was inspired to learn more; the main essay chronicles his search for both a home and the story of William Mellenthin. The book has the attitude of an enthusiast rather than a scholar, yet presents a wealth of archival material, from blueprints and family photos to contracts and advertisements. Though the book focuses on Mellenthin as the builder, Lukather acknowledges architect Leo F. Bachman, with whom the builder worked for many years.

Writing Disorder; 2017; 112 pages; softcover; $35.