William Mellenthin (1896-1979) is known as one of San Fernando Valley’s “pioneer developers,” building more than 3,000 homes in SFV and throughout the greater Los Angeles area. A Mellenthin home was known for its excellent quality (able to withstand major earthquakes, for example). Mellethin, himself, was known for building “birdhouses.”
Mellethin’s “birdhouse” ranch homes were so named because of one particular characteristic – dovecotes (which look like birdhouse holes and are “either on the garage, living room, or bedroom”). The birdhouses were very popular in the 1950s. They featured cupolas, diamond-paned windows (often floor-to-ceiling), brick fireplaces, board-and-batten siding, and low-roof lines. The houses have a fun, whimsical, cozy look with excellent curb appeal. Think back to the traditional, family houses of the Leave It to Beaver era.
“Paradise Leased” blogger Steve Vaught said back in 2013 that “Birdhouse houses became, and remain, an almost ubiquitous sight throughout the San Fernando Valley and could … even be called the quintessential Valley home.”
If you’re in the market to buy a home in the area, keep an eye out for the birdhouses. Some have been altered over the years, but there are still a number in their original state. They are also quite sought-after.
Author Chris Lukather’s published a book earlier this year about Mellenthin’s life and work titled “A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes.” Lukather says that Mellenthin’s “homes, which used to go for $25,000-30,000, can go for a million dollars today.”
If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.