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May 25, 2024

What’s the significance of mid-century modern architecture in Sacramento? We just found out

Uniquely is a Sacramento Bee series that covers the moments, landmarks and personalities that define what makes living in the Sacramento area so special.

An original 1955 Eichler mid-century modern home in Sacramento’s South Land Park Hills neighborhood sold in November 2023 for $810,000 — a little over a month after listing. The home had only two owners in 68 years.

In February, a Carmichael mid-century residence sold for $1.5 million one month after hitting the market. That deal was $260,000 over the asking price. The Carter Sparks-designed home had known only one previous owner in 62 years.

Both home sales illustrate how popular the California modern architectural style is in the Sacramento region.

On Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council took note by designating a part of South Land Park Hills — covering 48 mid-century modern homes developer Joseph Eichler built in the mid-1950s — as a historic district.

The designation will help ensure the preservation and rehabilitation of the California modern architectural style in the four dozen homes off of South Land Park Drive.

“This is a positive direction for Sacramento to help bring attention to and protect a niche product,” Sacramento appraiser and housing analyst Ryan Lundquist told The Bee. “Replicating an Eichler today would be very expensive, so it’s important to find ways to help preserve properties like this. It’s good for neighborhoods and the region to have architectural variety.”

The Eichler mid-century modern architectural style is known for its open living spaces, floor-to-ceiling windows, seamless indoor-outdoor flow and minimal ornamentation.

Eichler’s ranch homes helped fill the demand for quality, affordable housing as veterans returned to their families after World War II.

Non-profit organization Sacramento Modern (Sac Mod) worked for years to get the historic district designation. Sac Mod was founded in 2010 to preserve modern art, architecture and design in the Sacramento region.

“It’s official — we are pleased to announce the South Land Park Hills (Eichler) Historic District!” the group wrote on Instagram. “We have worked on this long-term as a neighbor and organization. This project is the culmination of many volunteer hours and dedicated research efforts over many years.”

Eichler completed a total of 59 mid-century modern homes in South Land Park Hills, according to the city. Some are outside the district.

“The designation will help the Eichler Homes neighborhood maintain its character-defining features — its feel, cohesiveness, and sense of place — and prevent drastic exterior alterations,” Gretchen Steinberg, president of Sacramento Modern, said in an email.

“Unfortunately, some of the original 59 Eichler homes have been altered beyond recognition. The designation helps prevent further loss. A group of homeowners participated in developing general guidelines identifying what the main character-defining exterior features are—and made specific recommendations.”

Gaby Moreira, a Realtor with Mid Mod Sacramento who specializing in mid-century modern homes, said the designation is a celebration of Sacramento’s character.

“It’s great to see South Land Park Hills get recognized as a historic district,” she said in an email. “Joseph Eichler’s mid-century homes are architectural gems, known for their open floor plans and stylish design. This move not only preserves these cool homes but also honors Eichler’s push for inclusive, affordable housing. It’s a win for history buffs, architecture fans, and anyone who loves seeing our city’s unique character celebrated.”

A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons were the architects for Eichler.

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