Blast from the Past – Year 1960

Article from The Asheville Citizen, Thursday July 28, 1960

Minnichs’ Mix Contemporary With Tradional

What kind of house does and architectural engineer build for himself?  The home of S. Clinton Minnich on Sunset Mountain is a fascinating example.  Clint, an engineer, and Tony Lord, architect, two of the Six Associates, worked for a year in their spare time on the plans.  The Minnichs wanted a contemporary design as a background for traditional furniture and wanted to try new materials and new uses of old materials.

Marian says that people are beginning to call its location “Rotary Ridge” because so many members of Rotary Club live up there.  From the mail box where one turns off Old Toll onto Bent Tree Road it is half a mile to the house.  A walk at the left of the carport leads to a front door set between floor-deep windows with louvered glass above.  The exterios is stone from Flag Pond, Tenn, and oak siding.  Oak and firpanels on the “town” side are painted Delft blue, yellow, rusty red, black and white above and below aluminum windows.  Marian actually had nightmares worrying about the effects before they were finished.

Many things about the house are unusual.  The only conventional ceilings are in the kitchen and bathrooms, the rest are raftered with exposed beams bolted together with large iron bolts at the rooftree.

Room dividers separate living and dining areas from the entrance hall and breakfast from the laundry area in the kitchen.  This gives a feeling of height and spaciousness.  It also provides better circulation of air.  The whole place is practically dust-free because of the warm air furnace equipped with an electro-static filter.  Thanks to Clint’s efforts it can be washed out in a few minutes by merely turning a valve.

Another feature is the absence of plastered walls.  The whole fireplace end of the living room is stone, another wall is pine stained blue-green-gray and the rest is glass door and windows framing the western expanse of mountains.

Pine panels the master bedroom, 13 year-old Ken’s room and the rumpus room and Larry’s immediately below.  All of the oak floors are done with a dull, walnut wax stain instead of shellac.  Washable pink plaid fabric wallpaper and resilient black-streaked vinyl tile floor decorate the bath adjoining the two first floor bedrooms.

Great thought has gone into planning the large and workable kitchen.  The overall color scheme is grey and turquoise but cabinet doors are each painted a different color, picking up some of the soft deep tones of exterior panels.  Just think how convenient that would be to identify where something is – such as the salt behind the blue door.

The gray slate entrance hall and stairway lead down, beside a red brick wall, to the lower level.  Sliding wood panel folding doors open on a rumpus room with raised brick fireplace and whole wall of bookshelves.  Furnished with studio beds it doubles as a guest room.  To the left is a bath having a stall shower of beautiful red Tennessee marble.  Across the hall is a tiny efficiency kitchen.  When Marian’s parents, Capt and Mrs. K.B. Bragg of Annapolis, MD. Are here they like to get up early and prepare their own breakfast.  Frequently when entertaining Marian bakes a ham or turkey down there.  Of course the refrigerator is stacked with snacks for the teenage boys and their friends.

Larry, now 15, hopes to go into medicine, so bookshelves in his room are adjustable for large textbooks in the future.

Opposite is what every house should have, a workroom with built-in desk on one wall and huge deep storage shelves for luggage and “junk” on another.  Marian has made heavy draw curtains to conceal them, but mostly they are pulled back.  Her sewing machine stands open in the middle.  A phone with a long cord is accessible to the other rooms by means of a pass through.

Not quite visible at lower left of the picture is a door from the rumpus room to the small terrace, one of two and the front walk fromed of gravel heavily mixed with concrete to look like stone.  Above, out of sight, off the master bedroom is a redwood balcony supported by the house beams.

Like everyone who has built recently the Minnichs found that costs exceed the budget, necessitating elimination of something.  In their case they amputated a third bedroom on the first floor and workshop for Clint below.  Now they don’t even feel the need of them.

Note: Clinton Minnich was an engineer employed by the Six Associates.  The Six Associates were: William Waldo Dodge, Jr., Henry Irvin Gaines, Anthony Lord, William Stewart Rodgers, Erle G. Stillwell, Charles Waddell. Information couresy of Laura Hope-Gill.

2 responses to “Blast from the Past – Year 1960

  1. Thanks for posting! I love reading older articles about Mid-Century Modern stuff.

  2. patrick lee lucas

    the traditional/modern balance is something i see a lot of in loewenstein’s work…at the flip side of the equation, he also designed traditional houses with modern features….but having traditional furniture in his modern houses was very much the norm, in part because of designers that he worked with (sarah hunter kelly, otto zenke, to name two) as well as clients that demanded more traditional ephemera.

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