"'Miracle House Hoop-La'" is a primary-source study of the influence of the tropes of "dream houses" and "miracle houses" within the building industry from 1944 to 1946. Though technophilic "miracle houses" had been dreamed up and promised to a desperate public throughout the Depression and the war years, the imminent challenges of the postwar housing crisis caused developers and builders alike suddenly to downplay the very vision they had been peddling, fearful that consumers would demand too much from their housing. Accordingly, the industry made a concerted effort to define the perfect postwar house as a site of "pseudo-individuality," rather than as a site of technological miracles. Drawing primarily on trade journals as a window on the industry, the article makes the case that this episode is emblematic of relations between industrial forces and social constructions of the individual.


Joseph Hudnut, "The Post-Modern House," Architectural Record (May 1945), 70.
Kenneth Jackson, The Crabgrass Fron- tier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York, 1985), chs. 3-5
Craig Whitaker, Architecture and the American Dream (New York, 1996)
John Archer, Architecture and Suburbia: From English Villa to American Dream House, 1690-2000 (Minneapolis, 2005).
Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, chs. 10, 11
Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (New York, 1987), chs. 5, 6
Greg Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth-Century Metropolis (Baltimore, 1997), ch. 2.
Greg Hise, "The Roots of the Postwar Urban Region: Mass-Housing and Community Planning in California, 1920-1950" (Ph.D. diss., Uni- versity of California, Berkeley, 1992), 271
Howard Ver- milya, Director of the Technical Division, FHA, "Potential Technical Development of Post-War Homes," Insured Mortgage Portfolio (third quar- ter 1943), 24-25, 37-39.
Theodor Adorno, "On the Fetish Char- acter in Music and the Regression of Listening" (Über den Fetisch- charakter in der Musik und die Regression des Hörens, 1938)
J. M. Bernstein, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture (Lon- don, 1991), 40.
Ben Agger, The Dis- course of Domination: From the Frankfurt School to Postmodernism (Evanston, 1992).
Walter Benjamin in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Repro- duction" (1936) in Hannah Arendt, ed., Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, trans. Harry Zohn (New York, 1968), 217-51.
Benjamin's concepts in Celeste Olalquiaga, The Artificial Kingdom (New York, 1998), 87-95.
Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York, 2001), xvii
S. Robert Anshen, address at the opening of the exhibition Contemporary Architecture in the United States, Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, Stan- ford University, Stanford, Calif., [30 Oct. 1945]
"The Postwar House and Its Materials," Arts and Architecture (Nov. 1945), 43.
Madison Avenue (pseud.), "Advertising in Wartime," New Republic 110 (21 Feb. 1944), 236.
Paul R. Williams, The Small Home of Tomorrow (Hollywood, 1945), 7.
David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford, 1989), 36, 68.
Roland Marchand, Creating the Corporate Soul: The Rise of Public Relations and Corporate Imagery in American Big Business (Berkeley, 1998)
William L. Bird, Jr., '"Better Living": Advertising, Media, and the New Vocabulary of Business Leadership, 1935-1955 (Evanston, 1999).
George Nelson and Henry Wright, Tomorrows House: How to Plan Your Post-War Home Now (New York, 1945)
Robert Lasch, Breaking the Building Blockade (Chicago, 1946).
Stuart Ewen, Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture (New York, 1977), 109
Jackson Lears, Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America (New York, 1994), 244-46
Bird, "Better Living."
Official Guide Book of the Fair (Chicago, 1933).
Robert Boyce, Keck and Keck (New York, 1993), 44
Brian Horrigan, "The Home of Tomorrow, 1927-1945," in Joseph J. Corn, ed., Imagining Tomorrow (Cambridge, Mass., 1986), 137-63
Judith Collins and Al Nash, "Preserving Yesterday's View of Tomorrow: The Chicago World's Fair Houses," CRM [Cultural Resource Management]: The Journal of Her- itage Stewardship 25, no. 5 (2002), 27-31.
H. W. Jandl et al., Yesterdays Houses of Tomorrow: Innovative American Homes, 1850 to 1950 (Washington, D.C., 1991), 83-85, 89
"Fuller's House: It Has a Better Than Even Chance of Upsetting the Build- ing Industry," Fortune (Apr. 1946), 167-79.
"House of Tomorrow," Historical American Buildings Survey, doc. no. IN-243, 9, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., available through http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/index.html.
Ed Tyng, Making a Worlds Fair: Orga- nization, Promotion, Financing, and Problems with Particular Reference to the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940 (New York, 1958).
Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, and Thomas Mellins, New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars (New York, 1987), 727-55.
Marc H. Miller, "Something for Everyone: Robert Moses and the Fair," in Been Sheppard, Marc H. Miller, et al., Remembering the Future: The New York Worlds Fair from 1939 to 1964 (New York, 1989).
Moses called "interesting and stimulating, but hardly scientific." "Moses Envisages Future Highways," New York Times, 21 Jan. 1940.
Paul Duguid, "Material Matters," in Geoffrey Nunberg, ed., The Future of the Book (Berkeley, 1996), sec. 3.
Owens-Illinois Insulux Glass Block advertisement, Architectural Forum (Jan. 1945), 141.
Marchand, Creating the Corporate Soul, 342, 343.
Tyng, Making a Worlds Fair, 26.
Madison Avenue, "Advertising in Wartime," 235 (see n. 9).
Richard Pratt, "The House Planned for Peace," Ladies' Home Journal (Jan. 1944), 58.
Lizabeth Cohen, A Con- sumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York, 2003).
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Elizabeth B. Mock, Tomorrows Small House: Models and Plans (New York, [1945])
repr. from Museum of Modern Art Bulletin 12, no. 5 ([summer 1945]), 8.
Pratt, "House Planned for Peace."
Greater San Jose, Look at Your Neighborhood (San Jose, Calif., 1945).
Saturday Evening Post, 14 Oct. 1944, 70.
Oscar Stonorov and Louis I. Kahn, afterword to You and Your Neighbor- hood (New York, 1944), 91.
Ibid., 11.
Ibid., epigraph.
Ibid., 11.
State Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission [hereafter SRRC], Postwar Housing in California: Based on Findings of the Northern and Southern California Project Committees on Postwar Home Building in California (Sacramento, 1945), 18, 19.
National Housing Administration (NHA), Housing Needs, National Housing Bulletin 1 (Nov. 1944)
SRRC, Postwar Housing, 8.
Homes for Veterans (Century Pictures for the NHA, 1946), NARA, RG 283
Keller Easterling and Richard Prelinger, Call It Home: The House That Private Enterprise Built, laserdisc (Santa Monica, 1992), at 12306.
Robert Watt, "Labor Problems—Now and Postwar," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 240 (July 1945), 51.
SRRC, Postwar Housing, 26.
"Answers to Ten Postwar Questions," American Builder and Building Age (Jan. 1944), 37.
M. J. Kamaitis, letter to the editor, American Builder and Building Age (Jan. 1944), 80.
David Monteyne, "Framing the American Dream," Journal of Archi- tectural Education 58 (Sept. 2004), 24-33.
George W. Miller, letter to the editor, American Builder and Building Age (Dec. 1944), 7.
M. L. Colean, "The Factual Findings," in Amer- ican Housing: Problems and Prospects (New York, 1944), 75
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Builders of 1-Family Houses in 12 Cities, no. R 1151 (1940).
Nelson and Wright, Tomorrows House, 199
n. 13
The Housing Committee (Henry E. Hoagland et al.), "The Program," in American Housing, 329.
Structor (pseud.), "On and Off the Record," American Builder and Build- mg Age (Feb. 1944), 26.
"Forum of Events," Architectural Forum (Jan. 1945), 66.
Time advertisements, American Builder and Building Age (Oct. 1944), 55; (Nov. 1944), 15.
Koven Waterfilm Boilers advertisement, Architectural Forum (Feb. 1945), 150.
John E. McNamara, "Promote Con- trolled Indoor Climate—To Sell Future Homes as 'Havens of Family Health, '"American Builder and Building Age (Oct. 1944), 97.
Marchand, Creating the Corporate Soul, 343-44
n. 12
Traffic World, 23 June 1945, 1639.
F. W. Dodge Corporation Committee on Postwar Construc- tion Markets, "Construction Potentials: Postwar Prospects and Problems, a Basis for Action," Architectural Record (Dec. 1943), 11
Lasch, Breaking the Building Blockade, 104
n. 13
S/Sgt. Thomas Curtis ("somewhere in France"), letter to the editor, American Builder and Building Age (Nov. 1944), 7.
"Hang Together—Or Assuredly We Shall All Hang Separately," Amer- ican Builder and Building Age (Oct. 1944), 81-82.
"Show the Public Model Homes to Combat the Dizzy Dreams!" Amer- ican Builder and Building Age (Oct. 1944), 95.
"Professor Says Postwar Homes Not to Be Miracles," 75
"NAHB Campaign Gains Wide Cooperation; National Consumer and Pro- fessional Publications Devote Big Space to Help Builders Debunk 'Imprac- tical Miracle Home,'" 76, 129.
"This California House 'Looks Ahead, "'American Builder and Building Age (Sent. 1944).
"Postwar Building Techniques," Architectural Forum (Jan. 1945), 129.
Elizabeth B. Mock, If You Want to Build a House (New York, 1946), 9.
John Brinckerhoff Jackson, "The Domestication of the Garage," in The Necessity for Ruins, and Other Topics (Amherst, Mass., 1980), 111
Clifford E. Clark, Jr., The American Family Home, 1800-1960 (Chapel Hill, 1986), 203.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Probable Volume of Postwar Construc- tion," bulletin no. 825 (1945), 20
Hise, "Roots of the Postwar Urban Region," 357 n. 13
n. 4
Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles, 160-61
seen. 3
Hise, "Roots of the Postwar Urban Region," 118
Jandl, Yesterday's Houses of Tomorrow
n. 16
Ibid., 93
Richard Plunz, A History of Housing in New York City: Dwelling Type and Social Change in the American Metropolis (New York, 1990), 247-48.
Philip Nobel, "Who Built Mr. Blandings' Dream House?," in Mark Lamster, ed., Architecture and Film (New York, 2000), 58.
Donald Albrecht, ed., World War II and the American Dream (Cambridge, Mass., 1995).
Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), 244.
"Today's House," Architectural Forum (July 1946), 98.
Structor (pseud.), "On and Off the Record," American Builder and Build- ing Age Qan. 1944), 23.
Harvey C. Mansfield and Associates, A Short History of OPA, Office of Temporary Controls, Office of Price Administration, general publication no. 15 (Washington, D.C., 1948), 140.
"Subdivision by Gregory Ain," Arts and Architecture (Nov. 1945), 33-34.
Albert Earl and Ben S. Trynin, "The Aircraft Industry After the War," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 222 July 1942), 171.
Miller, letter to the editor, 7
n. 42
Nobel, "Who Built Mr. Blandings' Dream House?," 62-63.
Arthur M. Johnson, "American Business in the Postwar Era," in Robert Bremner and Gary W. Reichard, ed., Reshaping America: Society and Institu- tions, 1945-1960 (Columbus, Oh., 1982), 102.
Lears, Fables of Abun- dance, 247
n. 14
American Builder and Building Age (Nov. 1944), 10.
http://defoenet.com/ ship- build/defoehomesOl.htm and linked pages.
Defoe Homes advertisement, Architectural Forum (Jan. 1945), 151.
Defoe Homes advertisement, Fortune (Apr. 1946), 41.
Defoe Homes advertisement, Architectural Forum (July 1946), 23.
Lasch, Breaking the Building Blockade, 158
n. 13
Pratt, "House Planned for Peace," 54
n. 25
Structor (pseud.), "On and Off the Record" (Feb. 1944), 26
n. 46
C. Hartley Grattan, "The Future of the Pacific Coast," Harpers Maga- zine (Mar. 1945), 307
Kevin Starr, Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (New York, 2002), 207.
Structor (pseud.), "On and Off the Record," American Builder and Build- ingAge (May 1944), 23.
Grattan, "Future of the Pacific Coast," 306.
Starr, Embattled Dreams, 207.
SRRC, Postwar Housing, vii-ix
n. 35
Starr, Embattled Dreams, 207.
Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles, 140, 141
n. 3
Hise, Magnetic Los Ange- les, 160.
SRRC, Postwar Housing, 38-39.
Georg N. Meyers, "Your Post-War Home," Yank: The Army Weekly, repr. in Architectural Forum (Feb. 1945), 112.
"Where Is Prefabrication?," Fortune (Apr. 1946), 131.
Home-Ola advertisement, Architectural Forum (July 1946), 149.
Elizabeth A. T. Smith, ed., Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses (Cambridge, Mass., 1989)
Thomas Hine, "The Search for the Postwar House," 169.
Dwell Home program in Allison Arieff, "I've Got An Idea ...," Dwell 3, no. 3 Jan./Feb. 2003), 15.
Henri Lefebvre, The Produc- tion of Space (1974), trans. D. Nicholson-Smith (Maiden, Mass., 1991), 164-68.
Kenneth D. Ruble, The Magic Circle: A Story of the Men and Women Who Made Andersen the Most Respected Name in Windows (Bayport, Minn., 1978), 128-29.
Meyers, "Your Post-War Home," 112.
"Fuller's House/' Fortune (Apr. 1946), 167-79; and Jandl, Yesterdays Houses of Tomorrow, 92-93, citing "For Fuller Living," Interiors (May 1946), 118
see n. 16
Fortune (Apr. 1946), comprising "Bricks without Straw?," 114-17
"Where Is Prefabrication?," 126-31, 233-50
Eric Hodgins, "Mr. Bland- ings Builds His Castle," 138-43, 180-89
Roger Allen's strange gloss on the Blandingses ("Mr. Blandings Digs His Grave," Architectural Forum [July 1946], 44-45)
Clark, American Family Home, 203
n. 58
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
"A Nationwide Look at the under-$ 10,000 House and the Mood of Those Who Build It," Architectural Forum (Apr. 1946), 106, 109.
J. C. McGoldrick, "City Building and Renewal," The Annals of the Amer- ican Academy of Political and Social Science 242 (Nov. 1945), 96.
Elizabeth Gordon, "You Should Dream Better Dreams," House Beauti- ful (May 1946), 81-122.
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (1958), trans. Maria Jolas (Boston, 1969), 6.
Anshen, "Postwar House and Its Materials," 43 (see n. 8).
Adorno, "On the Fetish Character in Music"
n. 5
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), trans. John Cumming (New York, 1972).
Pratt, "House Planned for Peace," 57-58
n. 25
Advertisement, Architectural Forum (July 1946), 30.
Arkansas Soft Pine Bureau advertisement, American Builder and Build- ing Age (Jan. 1944), 30.
Lears, Fables of Abundance, 246, 249
n. 14
David Har- vey, Spaces of Hope (Edinburgh, 2000), 179.
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