In the 1920’s, new technology, planners and architects changed the face of residential areas. To deal with this, builders began connecting homes with electrical and telephone wires and garages were added to backyard landscapes. These affected the exterior look of the homes and neighborhood. Architect, Andrew J. Thomas’ solution for this new development was to bury the wires underground and hide the garages in the basement with landscape graded to expose the doors at the rear of the building. In an era when only a small percent of the population owned a car, he made space to park two. Long before the idea of cluster homes became popular, the houses were positioned in blocks, such that the backyards melded together to form a great commons area that all of the residents could enjoy. To reinforce his concept of neighborhood, Thomas designed all of the homes in the same French Norman style, each with only minor architectural differences with most of them constructed in mirror image pairs. To maintain that integral look, houses were sold with landscaping designed by the architect.
The construction, materials and interiors benefit from the same attention to detail: graduated slate or terra-cotta tile roofs, wavy-edged red cedar siding, Ohio sandstone, copper gutters and downspouts and exterior brick, kilned in a pallet specially designed for the development. Steel beams supporting four-inches of concrete separate the basement and the first floor of each home. A re-circulating plumbing system delivers hot water to the farthest extents of the home, immediately. Walls are made of steel lath and plaster. Windows are steel casement style. Quarter-sawn oak floors are featured, single-panel interior doors are equipped with rose-brass knobs and solid brass hardware and steam-radiators covers are adorned with a simple deco look that remains visually appealing today.
The homes are of nine different types (D, H, J, K, L, M, N, P and Q as designated by the architect.) All feature a guest’s lavatory, library/sun room, usually behind the living room along with the expected dining room and kitchen on the first floor. At least one “servant’s chambers” and three or four bedrooms with three full baths are found on the second floor.
Some noted features in the houses:
v The plaster walls curve into the window opening, without the use of a traditional perimeter of molding
v The wooden discs mounted above the window on each side to facilitate the installation of drapery rods
v The thick ceramic tiles fired in rich green, vibrant pink and dense cranberry (sometimes combined!) in the full baths on the second floor
v The shoe closets that are featured in at least one of the bedrooms
v The built-in kitchen nook
v Slone valve (Flushometer) toilets throughout
v Wrought iron mailboxes
v Heavy paneled oak doors
v Sliding, roll-away garage doors
In the gardens, the following are original plantings:
v Japanese Azaleas
v Ligustrum (Privet) Hedges at the perimeter
v Flowering Crabtree
Architect Thomas believed that homeowners had a responsibility to the neighborhood first. According to an original sales booklet, “The exterior belongs not only to him, but in part to his neighbors, as well.” For that reason, most of the owners of the 81 homes have respected the community and only minor exterior alterations can be detected. We urge you to continue this tradition and join a chorus of owners who have enjoyed life in these interesting homes.