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Minimal Traditional House Plans for 1940s-1950s America

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Minimal Decoration After the Great Depression
Small, white house with front door entrance underneath the front-facing cross gable.

A suburban Minimal Traditional house in upstate New York.

Photo © S. Carroll Jewell

Chances are good that many Americans have lived in this style of house at some point in their lives. Displaying minimal decoration but traditional in design, these homes were built in great number throughout the United States from the Great Depression to the end of World War II. Described in McAlester's Field Guide to American Houses as Minimal Traditional, the architecture was practical, functional, and no-nonsense.

As Americans became more prosperous, the Plain Vanilla style lost its popularity. "Minimal" died out while other designs became more popular. Developers tried enhancing this "starter home" by adding more and more architectural details. The house plans on the following pages, particularly "Panarama," "Colonial Heritage," and "Contemporary View," show how 1950s developers attempted to market these plain houses to a more modern audience.

Minimal Traditional Floor Plans for America:

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Sources:

  • Martin, Sara K. et al. Post-World War II Residential Architecture in Maine: A Guide for Surveyors. Maine Historic Preservation Commission, 2008–2009. PDF accessed February 7, 2012.
  • McAlester, Virginia and Lee. Field Guide to American Houses. New York. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1984.
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