Birdhouse’ homes

Updated below
Reader Pat Lydon emailed with some information on the “birdhouse” homes that JCarr asked about. Lydon says that his grandfather, Carl Mortensen, built homes with the distinctive birdhouse detailing on the roof of the attached garage for the William Mellenthin Co. If anyone has more information, an email would be appreciated.

I can add this. The Mellenthin Co. built homes in a number of Valley subdivisions beginning around 1935. A “California Modern” model home opened at 4257 Laurel Canyon Avenue with a covered loggia connecting the dining room and service porch with a two-car garage, but the L.A. Times article mentions nothing of a birdhouse design. Mellenthin also built in the Sherman Woods development (on either side of Sepulveda Boulevard south of Ventura Boulevard) in the 1940s, and in the 1950s opened model homes in Sunshine Terrace off Laurel Canyon (model home at 11972 Sunshine Terrace), the Hidden Woods section in Van Nuys (13145 Weedington Street) and at the southwest corner of Beeman Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood.

In 1951, Mellenthin paid $130,000 for the 12½-acre Buck Jones estate—described as “east of Fulton Avenue between Magnolia and Chandler Boulevard”—for subdivision into “rustic homes.” Jones’ own Spanish Revival ranch house at 14050 Magnolia Blvd. later became the Mar-Ken School for child actors (see entry in the Blog Archives.) All of those neighborhoods mentioned would be likely places to look for the birdhouse features.

Update: I started a discussion at the L.A. Conservancy Modern Committee website that brought up some new information. Margot Tempereau, a Woodland Hills real estate agent who runs ValleyModern.com, posted there:

“There’s something about the “birdhouse” Mellenthin (or Mellenthin-style) homes in the Valley that can be very appealing if they are in (or near) their original condition. They were built to last generations, are usually situated on large lots, often have front porches, diamond pane windows, big family rooms, red brick fireplaces, pine kitchens…very “Father Knows Best” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”, nostalgically. They are EVERYWHERE in the SFV, but sadly, many have been updated so poorly nearly all the original charm has been lost. Recently we did find (and sell) a home of this style in nearly original condition, meticulously maintained by its original owner. It was truly a “time capsule” and we (and the buyers) loved it.”

There’s more at the Modern Committee site.

Lydon also sent along this photo taken in Burbank of the Great Valley Snowfall of 1949.

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