William Mellenthin was a licensed builder and contractor in the state of California. His company, William Mellenthin Builder (or Wm Mellenthin Builder), constructed and designed distinct, well-built homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley from the 1920s through the 1960s.
His iconic Birdhouse ranch homes are still admired and sought after today. With their quality build, design and materials, these homes were made to last. Although some of the homes have been remodeled, today there are still many in their original, preserved condition.
Not much was known about William Mellenthin, and little had been published about his work. What was available were bits and pieces of information, snippets here and there, that shed little light on the person behind these great homes. In 2017, Chris Lukather wrote a book about Mellenthin titled, A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes. This book provides a more complete story of the man behind the homes. It details much of the work he did in the Valley from the late 1930s to the end of his career in the 1970s.
William Mellenthin was a contemporary of builder and designer, Cliff May. They both built homes in the San Fernando Valley. Many well-known Mid-century Modern architects, such as John Lautner, Dan Palmer & William Krisel, A. Quincy Jones, and Richard Neutra also built homes in the Valley. Although these men probably didn’t travel in the same social circles, they shared a common love and appreciation of Southern California architectural and design.