A few weeks ago, I was flipping through some microfilm copies of the Commercial Dispatch from the 1950s, and I came across this interesting article about the state of residential real estate in the South. Although it’s meant as a little fluff piece to sell new homes to housewives, it has some insightful observations about the post-WWII rejection of the stereotypical Southern home with a big porch in favor of brick Ranch homes with “at least one pine-panelled room.” In this same period of newspapers, I also copied off some eye-catching advertisements for the Columbus construction firm D.S. McClanahan & Son that provide good visuals demonstrating the very trends that the article references. Coincidence? or clever marketing?
Southern Homes Reflect Change
Antebellum Styles Being Replaced By Modern Trend in Dixie
ATLANTA (INS)–The antebellum Southern plantation house, with its wide verandah and impressive pillars, is no longer the “dream home” of the South.
The average Southern home buyer today is looking for a ranch-style house, built of brick, containing at least one pine-panelled room, and in the medium-price range.
Sam Brannan, Atlanta realtor, says there have been other changes; for instance, most Southern families are now putting the porch in the back of the house for greater privacy. The porches generally are screened.
Pine panelling is very popular. Brannan says it has even invaded the kitchen in many cases, and most of the modern ranch homes have numerous natural finish knotty pine cabinets in the kitchen.
About 50 per cent, he added, are using natural finish woodwork throughout the house, in addition to a pine panelled den or bedroom and a kitchen done in knotty pine.
Brick of all types is being used. Most popular, though more expensive than the other types, is the used or “antique” brick, recovered from other buildings. Brannan says that the rustic effect given by the used brick is much in demand.
Most of the homes are of red brick, but other popular types are tri-colored and sand-colored brick.
Carports are a fairly new, but widely accepted, idea in the South. The realtor says that almost all new homes are built with carports, and very few have garages.
Basements too, are on the way out. Utility rooms now are built beside the carports, and central heating plants are run horizontally and attached to the floor joists.
Outdoor living is more popular than ever before. The trend is toward terraces, patios and barbeque pits with the new homes.
Margaret Reisman, Atlanta interior decorator, says that color trends are away from the dark colors generally associated with Early American decoration and toward lighter, dull shades of the same tones. Particularly popular, she pointed out, are shades of green, gray, beige, and brown.
Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, Miss. August 24, 1953, p. 2