In the early 1960s, amid affluence, loneliness, and increasing longevity, a new type of community appeared in the United States: the “active-retirement complex,” with thousands of houses and/or apartments and an unprecedented range of communal facilities. Though such communities were instantly popular, skeptics likened the first examples to internment camps, and to deflect such critiques, developers like Ross Cortese began to prioritize design. In Retirement Planning: Charles Warren Callister, the Neighborhood Unit, and the Architecture of Community at Rossmoor and Heritage Village, Matthew Gordon Lasner describes how Cortese hired acclaimed San Francisco Bay Area architect Charles Warren Callister, known for his innovative private and ecclesiastical commissions, to design a new retirement community known as Rossmoor, located in the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek. Long interested in housing reform, Callister attempted to serve the needs of seniors, especially their needs for community and activity, by employing a village plan and arranging the housing in “neighborhoods” around clustered courtyards, both at Rossmoor and at a later project, Heritage Village in Connecticut. Lasner’s study examines the experiences of residents of Callister’s complexes to determine whether this approach, which was rooted in theory rather than gerontological research, “worked” as intended.
In 1966, San Francisco Bay Area architect Charles Warren Callister (1917–2008) won an Honor Award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (in the category of Middle Income Housing—FHA Insured) for his first master-planned community: Rossmoor, a new complex for seniors then under way in the East Bay suburb of Walnut Creek.1 The following year he won two more awards for a second large-scale senior complex: Heritage Village, in Southbury, Connecticut, halfway between Hartford and Westchester County in New York. One award was presented jointly by the trade group National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the trade magazine House & Home; the other came from the American Institute of Architects’ Better Homes for Living program. Heritage Village went on to earn half a dozen additional awards, including one in 1983 from the Urban Land Institute, the leading real estate research group in the United States.
The prize committees commended the two projects—whose architecture and site planning were done by Callister’s firm, Callister, Payne and Rosse—for their beauty, their controlled development, and their comprehensiveness. NAHB and House & Home noted Heritage Village’s “outstanding efforts in attaining congenial neighborhoods and a better way of community development.”2 The AIA cited the project’s environmental planning, cluster grouping, and land use.3 Although the members of HUD’s multidisciplinary jury—which included, among others, an executive from the Rouse Company (then developing Columbia, the planned new community in Maryland) and architects William J. Conklin and Vernon DeMars—initially expressed reservations about “huge projects for the elderly,” ultimately they concluded that they “wished all age groups could live in an environment as totally attractive as” Rossmoor (Figure 1). “Great care and attention,” they explained, “has been given to every detail—to the architecture; the site planning; the site development and landscaping the entire environment.”4
On the strength of these senior housing projects—and the great amount of publicity each received, including in Time, Look, and House Beautiful magazines—Warren Callister, as he called himself, quickly acquired a national reputation as one of the leading practitioners, and experts, in the field of master-planned community design for retirees as well as for other age groups.5 Early excitement about Rossmoor in professional circles led to the commission for Heritage Village.6 Now Callister began to attract attention, and work, from community builders around the country. Over the next quarter century he won commissions for approximately 150 projects across twenty-five U.S. states, ranging in size from individual apartment complexes with hundreds of units on a few dozen acres to vast new communities planned for hundreds of thousands of people encompassing thousands of acres, like Valencia in Southern California (mostly unbuilt) (Figure 2).
Through recognition for Rossmoor and Heritage Village, Callister acquired a national platform that enabled him to promote his ideas about aging, community planning, and the future of the U.S. metropolis. Beginning in the late 1960s, he was regularly invited to speak at conferences on community building, new towns, and housing hosted by the American Institute of Architects, NAHB, the American Society of Planning Officials, the International Apartment Association trade group, and countless cities, towns, and planning agencies, from Richmond, Virginia, to Bozeman, Montana. Callister rarely published his thoughts, which helps to explain why his design work appears so infrequently in the literature on U.S. architecture, housing, and community planning. But at the time, he was as equally sought-after as better-remembered (and better-documented) designers known for new communities, including San Francisco’s Lawrence Halprin, who planned the acclaimed Sea Ranch in California, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Ian McHarg, who worked on The Woodlands in Texas.
My questions in this article, however, are not simply about Callister’s impact or legacy but, rather, about what ideas animated Rossmoor and Heritage Village, and how well these ideas suited the residents’ needs. More broadly, what do these places, as designs and as lived communities, reveal about the power of site planning—which became Callister’s primary field from the mid-1960s—to address complex social issues?7 Like other architects of large-scale communities, both for the elderly and for other groups, Callister insisted that this area of practice was not only a product of new ways of life, new demands on space, and new patterns of work, travel, and communication but also essential for accommodating them. Was his provocative assessment justified?
Like nearly all novel forms of housing, the retirement complex emerged in response to changing social and economic conditions, in particular the rise of a new “affluent society” subject: the middle-class retiree. Such retirees were not just “oldsters,” as they were still often called, but elders with resources to support lives of independence and leisure, who had graduated from the workaday world of production to one of consumption. The retirement complex housing type was rooted not in the nascent field of gerontology, however, but in the profit motive—and in design discourse. Especially important was the “neighborhood unit,” an older community planning idea that had been conceived to nurture another category of extraeconomic subject, children and adolescents, by encouraging their families to develop face-to-face community in the otherwise vast, impersonal, and commercialized modern metropolis.8
One of the best-known planning concepts of the twentieth century, the neighborhood unit, and its variants, had been tested out in such high-profile demonstration projects of the 1920s and 1930s as Radburn, near New York City; Baldwin Hills Village in Los Angeles; and Greenbelt, near Washington, D.C. It soon fell out of favor in U.S. reform circles, however, as liberal planners worried that it might sustain racial segregation. In part as a consequence, historians have long assumed the neighborhood unit to have become irrelevant in the United States by the 1950s, as the country embraced mass suburbanization and parsimonious public housing. It briefly enjoyed the spotlight again in the 1960s in connection with didactic “new communities” like Reston, Virginia, and Columbia, which sought to temper the serial suburb, but as they struggled in the market, the idea seemed to recede once and for all.9
Yet while overlooked by scholars of postwar architecture and planning, who have largely focused their attention on the stereotyped and oppositional realms of the middle-class suburban tract and the city-center public housing complex, not to mention the needs of children and those rearing them, the neighborhood unit in fact enjoyed a third U.S. act, in developer-built housing, both single-family subdivisions and, especially, multifamily complexes. Levitt & Sons, Eichler Homes, and other “community builders” incorporated elements of it in their postwar subdivisions.10 And, as I have argued elsewhere, beginning in the 1960s it came to play an even more important role in the conception and design of apartment complexes, especially those marketed to another emerging leisure-oriented demographic group: unattached young adults, or “swinging singles.”11 At Rossmoor and Heritage Village, the neighborhood unit served similar ends for seniors.
Like the neighborhood unit itself, Callister’s planned retirement communities were shaped by a mixture of innovation and nostalgia. Following earlier experiments, and like contemporaneous new communities and resorts (such as The Sea Ranch), Rossmoor and Heritage Village tried to create a new urban pattern that was relatively dense yet dominated by natural features as the result of clustering, the use of natural-looking materials and landscaping, and the studied rejection of applied ornament. This was in contrast to conventional suburbs, with their regularly laid-out streets, lawns, and distinct individualized structures (whether houses or apartment buildings). Simultaneously, Rossmoor and Heritage Village worked to keep residents oriented and to shape their behavior by invoking familiar environments. Architecturally, they embraced bold new forms but were also tethered to local traditions: the regional modernism of the Bay Area in the case of Rossmoor and, at Heritage Village, the vernaculars of rural New England. Socially, Rossmoor and Heritage Village created worlds apart without historical precedent that appealed mostly, it turned out, to a homogeneous segment of the housing market. Even at Rossmoor, which was marketed as a nonspeculative, or limited-equity, cooperative, most buyers were from the ranks of the well-educated and white upper-middle class.
Many critics, for these reasons and others, derided the planned retirement community idea. Experts on cities like the critic Lewis Mumford, experts on people like anthropologist Margaret Mead, and experts on aging like leading gerontologists shared the belief that seniors would not want to segregate themselves in such places and, more important, should not.12 Yet while the format had little appeal for many, it quickly became ubiquitous. This article, which builds on the work of urban historians John Findlay and Judith Ann Trolander, who have explored other pioneering examples, as well as my own work on the history of multifamily housing in the United States, begins the task of writing the architectural history of this important type, which historians have neglected for too long because of age bias, lack of interest in private multifamily housing, and suspicion of the profit motive.13
Employing Callister’s rarely examined manuscripts, drawings, and photographic collections, held in the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California, Berkeley, along with design and trade press coverage, mass-media coverage, local newspaper coverage, internal publications like community newspapers, and, in the case of Rossmoor, a series of postoccupancy studies, this article introduces the design and planning of each project, analyzes Callister’s ideas about community planning and aging, and offers a glimpse of early life in the two communities. My arguments are simple: that historians should pay more attention to planned communities and private multifamily housing in the United States; that despite their unscientific origins, Callister’s designs “worked” as intended; and that as a category of historical analysis, to paraphrase historians Corinne T. Field and Nicholas L. Syrett, age matters.14
Callister’s Progressive Ambitions
Callister was in many respects an unlikely figurehead, not only for the nascent senior housing movement but for any mass-built housing movement. He lacked a pedigree as an architect, both generally and in the modern movement, given his education at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the curriculum was still focused on the Beaux-Arts. He also lacked credentials, given that he was drafted into the U.S. Army (first into the Corps of Engineers, although later he served in the Air Corps) before he could earn his degree, and he never returned to complete it.15 He was also unlicensed. Yet, paradoxically, his work was very much in the avant-garde.
As revealed by thousands of pages of his personal notes, in college Callister devoured the writings of cutting-edge architects like Walter Gropius, recently transplanted from the Bauhaus to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and critics like Sigfried Giedion, who had helped establish the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne, or CIAM; Henry-Russell Hitchcock; and Mumford, the United States’ most vocal and prolific opponent of lay city-building practices and champion of modernist, expert-led alternatives.16 Callister wrote a term paper comparing the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier in the realm of city planning (he titled it “Ecology,” noting that “after beginning my research I discovered that we might not have cities in the future”).17 Later, while in the service, he wrote a report about Telesis, the Bay Area group of young modernist architects and landscape architects inspired by CIAM that led West Coast conversations about regional planning, urban redevelopment, and housing reform.18
After the war, in 1945, Callister moved to the Bay Area with his wife and first child—and his Texas classmate Jack Hillmer. The move was motivated in part by Callister’s interest in the work of Telesis, but he was also attracted to the region’s extraordinary natural beauty, which he had glimpsed from the air during the war. Hillmer (1918–2007), Callister’s close friend and perhaps lover (they lived together as life partners for the last several decades of their lives), felt the same. Callister rented an apartment in Marin City, a public housing project built for wartime shipyard workers, and with three other Texas friends and aspiring architects—Philip K. Buskirk, John Pryor, and Victor Probst—he and Hillmer revived Telesis, which had flagged during the war in terms of both energies and membership. The men also rented and “built” (presumably built out) an office in the penthouse of a loft building in San Francisco. Astonishingly, given their inexperience, Callister and Hillmer convinced their landlord, commercial artist Haines Hall, to let them design a house for his family.19
Standing on a hillside in Kent Woodlands, in Marin County, the Hall House (1947) was spectacular, featuring a dramatic soaring roof pierced in multiple places to accommodate a series of mature oak trees, as well as a V-shaped deck that cantilevered out over the slope (Figure 3). As Callister later reflected, the aircraft designs that Hillmer had created during the war at Consolidated Vultee in San Diego inspired these forms. Sheathed in rough redwood recycled from an old stable on the property, the design employed what Callister and Hillmer claimed to be the first posttensioned concrete slab in the United States.20 Photographed by Minor White and others, the house drew national acclaim and was widely published, including in Life magazine.21 At age thirty, with one house in his portfolio, Callister proclaimed himself not so much an architect as an “Environmental Art[ist].”22
Over the next fifteen years, before he earned the Rossmoor commission, Callister designed nearly sixty other custom houses and many public buildings (all without Hillmer; the two had different styles of practice, plus Hillmer’s domestic partnership with architectural photographer Roy Flamm, which began in 1948, perhaps generated tension).23 These included half a dozen schools and four churches, among them the striking First Church of Christ, Scientist in Belvedere in Marin County (1952). (A lifelong Christian Scientist, Callister designed several buildings for Christian Science congregations in the area.) Callister also joined forces with two new business and design partners, John Morgan (Jack) Payne and J. Martin Rosse, and moved his office from San Francisco to Belvedere (he had already moved his family into an old carriage house on nearby DeSilva Island).24 Along with work by designers such as Henry Hill, Joseph Esherick, and Donald Olsen, Callister’s projects helped sustain and expand the San Francisco Bay Region style, solidifying his reputation as both a leading Bay Area modernist and, in the words of critic Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, the “ultimate stick architect.”25
Yet in addition to being committed to artistic purity and the freedom and authority of the architect, Callister was genuinely invested in issues such as urban and regional planning, social justice, and the reform of mass housing. Whether by virtue of his faith, his sexuality, his temperament, or his modest (Depression-era) upbringing, he was deeply compassionate.26 Alongside his college coursework in architecture (as well as painting and sculpture), he had studied sociology, exploring topics of urgent concern such as urban congestion and decay, housing privation, poverty, zoning, the garden city movement, preservation of the natural environment, and racial inequality (“Race is a concept not a fact. There is no such thing as black[,] yellow (etc.) men,” he wrote in his class notes).27 He also participated in what he called informal seminars with German architect Hugo Leipziger-Pearce, who had headed the local division of the housing nonprofit DEWOG in Breslau (now Wrocław) from 1927 to 1933 and was invited to Austin in 1939 to create the university’s first curriculum in planning.28 So in addition to the writings of Le Corbusier and Mumford, Callister had read The Communist Manifesto, leading texts on housing and planning such as those by Ebenezer Howard and Frederic J. Osborn, and early bulletins and reports published by the U.S. Federal Housing Administration and the Urban Land Institute.
This exposure to social theory and debates about cities, regions, and housing enabled Callister to become, he later reflected, “an architect with a larger overview of how architecture might best be applied…within the cultural and social nature of the community.”29 It also provided him, as well as many other architects of his generation, with a vocabulary through which to imagine himself as master not just of building and site but of neighborhood, city, and region. So while he was thinking about form, material, and style and collecting accolades for his private houses and churches, Callister perceived the limits of the title of “Architect, AIA,” with its implied emphasis on structural and aesthetic innovation. In these years, he often contrasted the benefits of working as an architect with those of working as an “environist” or “environtist,” or even as a “builder.” The last of these labels, he wrote, was “simple in meaning and intention” and perhaps “indicates my purposes the best.”30
Critically, Callister, more so than many of his avant-garde contemporaries, found ways to advance his social agenda, in large part because of his good fortune to be offered, and willingness to assume, roles typically outside the bounds of U.S. architecture practice, working in partnership with large-scale developers of speculative housing. The modern movement was rooted in efforts in Europe to address housing and environmental inequality. But in the United States, where the market remained the primary driver of the design of the built environment and, as a result, popular taste ruled, architects had few avenues for applying their ideas toward the betterment of ordinary homes and communities. Modern architecture and urbanism were instead relegated mostly to private commissions, the small public housing sector, and public buildings such as corporate headquarters, churches, and schools.
Apart from his work with Telesis—and a lone lecture about planning and housing that he and Hillmer delivered in 1946 to a local chapter of the American Veterans Committee following a screening of Lewis Mumford and Clarence S. Stein’s polemical short film The City (1939)31—Callister’s first projects to take this more social direction, and his first opportunities to build at a larger urban scale, came, like many of his commissions, through his neighbors. In 1955, developer Mary J. Burrell, who lived near Callister’s office, hired him along with landscape architect Thomas Church to plan the layout for Reedlands, a 200-acre single-family subdivision in Tiburon, as well as Reedcliff, an adjacent 25-acre tract of garden apartments.32 In 1958, Southern Marin Realty engaged Callister to plan a subdivision called Maringate for the Strawberry Peninsula, adjacent to DeSilva Island (unbuilt). And in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began accepting small-scale commissions from local builders to design a dozen or so built-for-sale speculative houses and a number of garden apartments.33 He also became involved in local planning and land-use debates and participated on various committees that were starting to grapple, amid rapid growth, with thorny questions about density and the desirability of hillside development in Marin County.34
Reimagining Senior Housing
Callister’s big break came by way of fellow Christian Scientist David W. Allen and the Belvedere Land Company, Allen’s family real estate firm. In 1954, Allen’s brother hired Callister to design a private house. Two year later, Allen did the same. Soon Callister was designing houses for Belvedere Land and assisting the firm with the design of a small shopping center. Then Allen invited Callister to design the Cove Apartments, a series of small but luxurious over-the-water buildings on Belvedere Cove in downtown Tiburon.35 Although only the first two sections were built, the Cove (1962) helped to set a new standard for multifamily design in the Bay Area (Figure 4). In contrast to the stucco-box look of most apartments in the U.S. West, the complex’s seven two-story units, which were arranged side by side and accessed by “gangplanks,” featured unfinished redwood siding inspired, according to Callister, by “weathered fisheries along the w[h]arfs.”36 They also boasted dramatic profiles. To help the buildings blend in with their low-rise surroundings, Callister treated their second stories as exaggerated, geometric mansards, which he sheathed in cedar shingles and punctuated with bold, heavy-hooded arches with round and trapezoidal profiles (forms that would reappear in his later work; see Figure 9).37
Through his work on the Cove Apartments, Callister acquired a much more significant opportunity: Rossmoor. Promoted by Southern California community builder Ross Cortese (1916–91), Rossmoor occupied the 2,200-acre Tice Valley near (and soon annexed by) Walnut Creek, a suburban town a dozen miles east of Oakland. (Like the Levitts in New York, who also launched their company in the pre–New Deal era of land scams and fly-by-night builders, Cortese evidently believed that labeling his product with his name—Rossmoor—would enhance sales.) Cortese (rhymes with “daisy”) entered the field of community building, which united the previously unrelated tasks of land development and construction, in the early 1950s. By 1956 he had begun building a tract of 3,500 detached houses in Orange County, California, called the Walled City of Rossmoor, the first gated community in the United States intended for families of moderate means. Then, in 1960, at Rossmoor Leisure World in Seal Beach (today Leisure World Seal Beach), also in Orange County, he pioneered another new community type: the mass-market new town-in-town for seniors.38
Before World War II, most older Americans lived with their extended families, in institutional homes for the aged or infirm, or in residential hotels. Relatively seldom did they maintain, let alone own, homes of their own. By the 1950s this situation was changing. For the first time, increasing longevity coupled with trade union pensions and Social Security benefits (introduced in 1935, with regular monthly payments commencing in 1940) made a comfortable, independent retirement possible for many ordinary seniors. Early efforts to cater to this group, primarily in states with mild winters and relatively low cost of living, such as Florida and Arizona, mostly took the form of trailer parks (in Florida) or uniform subdivisions of detached houses (in both states). Apart from the occasional grab bars in bathtub enclosures, the subdivision homes differed from standard suburban tract houses mainly in terms of materials (uninsulated concrete was commonly used), size (many houses had just one bedroom), and location (the subdivisions were typically sited on very low-cost land beyond the metropolitan fringe).39
As noted by Findlay and Trolander, senior housing began to assume a different character in 1959, when celebrity builder Del Webb (co-owner of the New York Yankees) launched Sun City, a large-scale master-planned complex outside Phoenix, Arizona. Sun City offered more housing types than had previously been available in retirement communities, including two-family houses and a few for-sale apartments. More important, Sun City also offered a rich and unprecedented array of leisure facilities and programming—a significant addition given that skeptics, including Mumford, had often critiqued communities designed for seniors as offering little for residents to do. Such leisure activities also promised to address a new social problem. Well before the sexual revolution of the 1960s, increasing affluence and changing mores led to a reduction in the size of American households, as more and more people lived alone or in couples. The movement of millions of people, seniors and others, out of communal housing—whether homes for the aged or boardinghouses and residential hotels for the unattached—and into independent, self-catering apartments and houses triggered an unexpected new social epidemic: loneliness. Sun City would allow retirees to fill their free time in rich and rewarding ways and to forge new social ties while living on their own, away from family. A golf course and a large recreation center with a circular—and thus more social—swimming pool stood at the center of the complex, along with dozens of shuffleboard courts, lanes for lawn bowling, and a building for hobby workshops and club meeting rooms. The community also included several smaller recreation centers and pools.40
Cortese anticipated that many seniors drawn to this new lifestyle might not want to move to exurban Phoenix. At Leisure World, he adapted Webb’s idea of “active retirement” for the big city, building nearly seven thousand apartments designed as attached, one-story row houses on a campus of more than 500 acres just half an hour (in light traffic) from downtown Los Angeles and ten minutes from downtown Long Beach. He also improved upon Webb’s model by offering an even more comprehensive set of community facilities, including an amphitheater and classrooms for college extension courses. Especially important was universal on-site medical care. Cortese had originally intended to build a Catholic hospital on the site, but after the Long Beach medical community objected to this plan, he instead introduced the idea of senior housing with health care, which proved to be a major draw in a nation lacking national health insurance (the U.S. Medicare program for seniors was not introduced until 1965). Leisure World, the largest owner-occupied apartment complex in the world until New York’s Co-op City opened a decade later, quickly sold out, transforming Cortese, a high school dropout, into one of the nation’s highest-volume (“top five”) home builders. He soon began planning more Rossmoor Leisure Worlds: the first two also in California, one at Laguna Hills, in southern Orange County, and one at Tice Valley, with others slated for New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Arizona, Hawaii, and Switzerland.41
Despite the first Leisure World’s success in the marketplace, critics regarded the development as a failure. Its vast size made many uneasy, as did the idea of sequestering seniors, much less enclosing them within walled, gated communities consisting of thousands of units. Questions about the design of the project further amplified the concerns about its scale. Leisure World comprised approximately 550 identical one-story buildings designed by Cortese’s in-house team, perhaps even by Cortese himself (he had studied architectural drafting in the army). If Barbara Miller Lane, discerning links to the single-family houses that Cortese built earlier with well-regarded ranch-house impresarios Cliff May and Chris Choate, has characterized the Leisure World buildings as elegant, they were also no-frills. The flat terrain, extreme repetition, and utilitarian site plan, with its compact parallel rows and X’s echoing the layout of military barracks, felt stultifying, especially before the landscaping matured. As a real estate reporter for the Los Angeles Times noted: “Critics of retirement communities have compared them with concentration camps and likened their residences to rabbit hutches.” These negative associations were likely reinforced by the fact that Webb, whose Sun City was often confused with Leisure World in the public imagination, made no secret of his involvement with the building of the internment camp for Japanese Americans at Poston, Arizona, in 1942.42
To address these critiques, Cortese began to prioritize more upscale designs (which, it is easy to imagine, would also appeal to a more upscale, and thus lucrative, clientele). For Laguna Hills, he instructed his in-house staff to create a more whimsical visual language, thus its community buildings, for instance, alluded to California’s Spanish missions. For Tice Valley, desiring a Bay Region architect with an impeccable reputation, he turned to Callister. (Cortese later hired Collins, Kronstadt & Associates—Richard Collins Jr. and Arnold Kronstadt’s firm based in Washington, D.C.—to design his complex at Olney, Maryland, and Royal Barry Wills Associates of Boston to design the one at Cranbury, New Jersey.)43
Cortese first learned about Callister through trade coverage. In the summer of 1962, as Cortese contemplated how to proceed with the Tice Valley site, which he had acquired in 1960, House & Home published a cover story about Callister that showcased several of his more breathtaking private houses. It also featured the Cove Apartments. “Not since [Bernard] Maybeck,” gushed the uncredited writer, “has any Bay Region architect taken such delight in the imaginative use of unpainted wood to enrich and emphasize structure, to define and enliven planes, to dramatize handsome forms and spaces.” Moreover, the article continued, “you find many of the same Callister features in [h]is built-for-sale houses and apartments.”44
To lure Callister, Cortese promised him considerable freedom in the design, including a strong say on the site plan. Callister, eager for the income and visibility, as well as for the opportunity to test out his long-held ideas about housing and community planning—and willing, given these interests, to take a chance on collaborating with a large-scale speculative community builder—accepted the job.
The project also suited Callister for another reason: it aligned with his communitarian impulses. Leisure World, following Sun City, was rooted, in part, in the spirit and practice of Eastern European Jewish communalism, with its emphases on mutual aid, the public realm, peer (as opposed to family) sociability, and human engagement and togetherness.45 Among the earlier senior subdivisions that had failed to catch on was a 1955 project, the evocatively named Youngtown, Arizona. Youngtown’s promoter, Ben Schliefer, a Jewish immigrant who came to the United States from Russia as a teenager and had long been active in Jewish civic organizations, purportedly drew inspiration from the Israeli kibbutz. In 1958, Schliefer launched Circle City, Arizona, a housing development specifically targeting members of the Workmen’s Circle (today the Workers Circle), a nationwide Ashkenazi Jewish fraternal group. Although small in scale and slow to sell—and a failure as an experiment in Jewish community making—Youngtown made headlines as the first housing development in the United States to impose explicit age restrictions on residents. Webb first got the idea for a senior development from television reports about Youngtown, and without its trailblazing example it is difficult to imagine that lenders would have financed Webb’s or Cortese’s later projects, even with Federal Housing Administration insurance.46 Although unaware of this lineage, Callister, who in the late 1960s would become deeply enamored of the counterculture and design at least one back-to-the-land collective, intuitively grasped this aspect, later describing Rossmoor and Heritage Village as “adult communes.”47
The origins of Callister’s interest in communitarianism remain obscure. Perhaps as a function of his religion or his sexual orientation, Callister hungered for the group and community throughout his adult life, while simultaneously harboring suspicions about the reliability of the nuclear family and consumerism as nourishing institutions.48 He relished living in suburban Marin County, with its coastline, mountains, and redwood trees, yet aspired to experience it in fellowship, imagining “new social units” that, among other things, would reject the formal separation of land uses prescribed by zoning laws.49 He also questioned the need, and desire, for privacy, entertaining thoughts in his notebooks of “communal pads,” “super families,” and free love.50 And although an auteur, he conceived of architecture, including his own work, as a collective endeavor, for decades considering the idea of reorganizing his practice as a guild or live-work cooperative while running his office more like a commune than a business, with musical happenings, driftwood-building beach parties, and visits by figures like Lloyd Kahn, but rarely a balanced ledger.51
Tice Valley, the site chosen for Rossmoor, was a secluded basin enclosed by dramatic rolling hills to both the east and west (Figure 5). Since 1930 the valley had served as the country seat of the Dollar family, headed by Stanley Dollar, one of San Francisco’s richest shipping magnates. Callister devised the master site plan for Rossmoor with the aid of Mott & Hayden, a leading land planning firm (Figure 6). Seward H. Mott, trained as a landscape architect, had a successful practice in Cleveland before the Great Depression, and he had previously served as executive director of the Urban Land Institute and head of the Land Planning Division at FHA. There, according to Miles L. Colean, an architect who helped establish and run FHA, Mott created “standards of subdivision design…[that] were vastly improved over what had been common in the [nineteen] twenties”; he subsequently “took to the road and lectured to builders and developers all over the country on the advantages of planned developments.”52 At Rossmoor, Mott and Callister scaled up a range of reform ideas that had only just begun to be tested out at smaller projects and promoted to builders in manuals like William H. Whyte’s Cluster Development. These measures included reducing the amount of space (and money) devoted to circulation and utilities, conserving open space, and, more generally, finding appealing ways to accommodate “apartment” households—groups like seniors and singles who often preferred multifamily living—in suburbia.53
The Rossmoor scheme, for which Callister later claimed sole credit, called for ten thousand apartments (marketed with real estate brio as “manors”) and a population of eighteen thousand. Most units were one story in plan, with a few set up as “townhouses,” a term then coming into vogue to market two-story garden apartments as attached row houses (Figure 7). All stood on the hillsides overlooking the valley floor, where the team placed complex-wide facilities, including a golf course and the main recreation center. Hilltops remained untouched, as was becoming the fashion in the Bay Area amid a nascent backlash against growth. Just outside the project’s gates and open to the public was a commercial center, also designed by Callister, with a motel, churches, gas stations, horse stables, and a shopping center with supermarket, post office, bank, cafeteria and cocktail lounge, and several smaller storefronts (Figures 8 and 9). The design suggested only minimal alterations to the natural landscape, reflecting Callister’s interest in ecology (an approach that would become a signature of his future site planning work). To retain the original profile of the valley to the extent possible, and to preserve its established trees, the plan called for minimal scraping and terracing, the typical earth-moving operations required for inexpensive wood-frame construction. The landscape design, by the Southern California firm Dreyton, Inc., hewed toward the wild, with heavy, low-maintenance ground cover.54
Callister arranged the housing in nine “neighborhoods” (see Figure 6). Each consisted of a series of buildings clustered around inward-facing courts featuring outdoor seating as well as small, freestanding pavilions with laundry rooms and lounges (Figure 10). To preserve views of the surrounding valley and hills, taller buildings (mostly three stories with eight units each) were placed upslope from lower, one-story buildings (each with four units) (Figure 11). (Although the initial proposals included six- and eight-story buildings nestled into steeper slopes, as well as towers of thirteen to seventeen stories, these remained unbuilt.) Callister intended the courtyards to engender community, but at the same time, he ensured privacy by providing every apartment with a balcony or enclosed patio (Figures 12 and 13).55
Rossmoor’s design addressed the needs of retirees in a variety of ways. To accommodate the physical requirements of less able-bodied residents without the expense of elevators, Callister designed the three-story residential buildings with entrances placed midway between the top two stories on the upslope side, with half flights of stairs leading up and down to the apartments (Figure 14). He reserved ground floors for parking spaces accessed from the downslope side and serving the next structure down, thus allowing nearly everyone to park at grade. Following designs for Leisure World Seal Beach and other senior housing, bathrooms and interior fixtures such as outlets (for power and telephone) and shelving minimized the need for residents to bend down or reach up. The width of doorways accommodated wheelchairs. Callister’s designs also addressed more intangible, psychological aspects of residents’ needs. After interviewing Callister, a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner wrote about Rossmoor: “There are ideas [for making residents] feel secure—both emotionally and physically. There are ideas for shielding them from fear and for keeping them heathy, for preventing loneliness. There are ideas for preventing crime, for saving their money, and ideas to prevent them from vegetating in a monotonous old age. There are even plans to stave off the pains of class consciousness and status seeking.”56
According to Callister, the (somewhat) limited range of floor plans and prices—eight models, all with one or two bedrooms, priced from $13,595 to $18,195 (approximately $135,000 to $180,000 in 2019 dollars)—would allow “everyone to relax without pretense.” During the war, he elaborated, “we all wore the same uniforms. There was no ostentation. There were none of the symbols of wealth. And so we all began talking right away.”57 Gated entry helped, too. Callister rejected reactionary law-and-order politics: by 1968 he publicly called for disarming U.S. police.58 Yet he acknowledged that many seniors “are afraid of younger people. They are afraid of the racing car that might knock them down and cause them to break a hip. They are afraid that if this happens they will be bedridden and that they won’t get well. They are afraid of being mugged.”59 To help orient Rossmoor’s residents, Callister planned roads that followed a loose grid, at least where topography allowed (see Figure 6). Recalling the urban layout of San Francisco, he claimed, would ease new residents’ transition from life in the city to life in the senior enclave.
Callister suggested something similar about the complex’s architecture. Rossmoor’s modern, abstracted geometries and specific finishes, including its rough-hewn shingles, embodied the Bay Region traditions of redwood craftsmanship and Japanese-inspired aesthetics (see Figure 1). Although budget constraints and the imperatives of large-scale building ruled out innovative structural systems and high-quality materials, Callister’s work at Rossmoor—including the community centers, Lutheran church, and shopping center, with its dining room loosely inspired by Maybeck’s Faculty Club at the University of California, Berkeley—recalled such systems and materials (see Figures 8 and 9). Rossmoor’s evocative rooflines played a particularly important part in shaping the community’s image, with their mixture of hipped forms with deep, blocky overhangs and, in the case of some of the one-story residential buildings, flat forms punctuated with exaggerated telescoping pavilions floating over clerestory windows. “This place doesn’t look anything like Los Angeles” (or anywhere else), Callister proudly explained. “We’ve used materials, shapes and forms that are found in San Francisco.”60 If the midcentury suburb thrived by virtue of its placelessness, as William H. Whyte asserted in The Organization Man, Rossmoor succeeded by giving seniors, reliant on community and unmoored from old lives, the specificity they craved.61
Rossmoor’s architecture also projected an air of youthful vitality. Avoiding explicit association with agedness had become an imperative of retirement housing, in contrast to institutional housing for the elderly. When retirees in South Florida exchanged hotel rooms for apartments, rented and (mostly) owned, in the 1950s, developers greatly reduced the size of apartment building lobbies, or even eliminated them, to ensure that the infirm did not use them as lounges. When Webb created Sun City, he imposed a minimum age well below retirement to support the fiction that it was an “adult” community—with no noisy children or need to pay for schools—rather than “God’s waiting room,” as some called Miami Beach. Cortese told Callister that he planned to prohibit funerals at Rossmoor’s churches.62
But perhaps the village system of neighborhoods and courts represented the most important physical aspect of Callister’s efforts to cater to Rossmoor’s target clientele. According to Callister, the village system would nurture the residents by making them more aware of one another, thus reducing the sense of isolation. “What makes this kind of place work,” he remarked, “is that these people know there are others around who do care. There is companionship…. If Molly doesn’t feel well today and is depressed, there are a lot of neighbors to look in on her. She’s not forgotten, and still, she’s no burden to anybody.”63 The sense of neighborliness and the “neighboring” behaviors engendered by the courts might even, he speculated, induce people to leave their cars at home and ride Cortese’s system of free shuttle buses—mobile social condensers!—that traveled a circuit through the neighborhoods, recreation facilities, and commercial center.
The village arrangement also served more pragmatic functions. It provided a means of phasing construction and marketing, essential to any large-scale private project. It also helped to organize ownership and governance: each of the nine neighborhoods constituted a separate “mutual,” or homeowners association. Most important, it satisfied FHA requirements. Rossmoor, like Cortese’s other Leisure Worlds—as well as the massive Lakewood subdivision near Long Beach where Cortese had built his first tract houses—employed a corporate-title plan of co-ownership known in the United States and many other places as “cooperative.” Loans insured by FHA’s Section 213 financed the project. Set up in 1950 to satisfy the decades-old demands of housing activists, such as Catherine Bauer, for a U.S. network of publicly subsidized but privately built, owned, and managed nonmarket planned communities open to people with a wide spectrum of incomes, the Section 213 program mirrored the system commonly employed in Western Europe to build public, or social, housing (what Bauer famously promoted as “modern housing”). To ensure that prices remained low, FHA required participating projects to prohibit private gain and imposed strict price ceilings on resales. Reflecting reformers’ mistrust of the profit motive and the real estate industry in general, Section 213, with few exceptions, also required sponsors to sell most units from plans before construction began. While this provision was intended to ward off speculative builders like Cortese, in practice it simply led them to structure larger projects as a series of smaller ones.64
Unlike Leisure World Seal Beach, Rossmoor proved a success among critics as well as buyers. Its strong sales record—coupled with Callister’s much-remarked-upon ability to produce striking architecture while keeping the project on budget—made it “one of the most talked-about developments in the U.S.” according to Time.65 One builder, a past president of NAHB, who “rushed” to visit from Salt Lake City proclaimed Rossmoor “the greatest thing that has ever been done” in housing.66 The relationship between Cortese and Callister, however, quickly soured. When Callister traveled to Japan with Jack Payne for four weeks in the fall of 1964, Cortese, an intense workaholic accustomed to in-house design staff and known for his short fuse, fired the firm “explosively.” (Cortese, however, continued to build according to Callister’s designs until financial difficulties forced him to sell Rossmoor in 1968, after which a series of new architects and landscape architects, including Robert Royston, were brought in.)67
The break with Cortese came as a blow to Callister, who was aggressively hiring draftsmen for his new field office at Rossmoor. But favorable attention in the media, both mainstream and trade, and Rossmoor’s commercial replicability—at least relative to other projects of its size that were shaped by more explicitly utopian goals, such as Reston, Columbia, and The Sea Ranch—quickly led to new projects: Callister received at least seven commissions for planned communities in 1964 and 1965 alone. Heritage Village was the most important of these projects, in terms of both its design quality and its impact on the broader culture as well as Callister’s own prospects (Figure 15).68
The sponsors of Heritage Village were three builders from central Connecticut: brothers Henry, Otto, and Frank Paparazzo. Like many U.S. builders of single-family houses around this time, they had recently begun to transition into the field of multifamily housing. (From 1946 through 1956, at the height of the postwar baby boom, just 7 percent of privately built nonfarm housing units in the United States were in multiunit complexes; by 1963 the share had climbed to 34 percent.)69 In 1964, they built a project called the Heritage Apartments (today named Heritage Cove), with 104 upscale redbrick and shingled-mansard rental “townhouses” on 14 acres along the Connecticut River in the “heritage” town of Essex, Connecticut. The complex was designed by a local alumnus of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Joseph Stein. When a 250-acre estate near a new freeway (Interstate 84) in Southbury’s Pomperaug Valley came up for sale, the Paparazzos decided to aim for something that built on the Heritage brand but was much more ambitious: the creation of a whole planned community.70
Unlike in California, where—thanks to rapid growth, the influence of figures like Bauer, and the nascent environmental movement—architects, planners, and builders had experimented with planned communities with some frequency since the New Deal, on the East Coast new private housing was, with few exceptions, still dominated by monotonous garden apartment complexes and single-family subdivisions. By the 1960s, however, demographic shifts generated a lucrative new market for apartments and opportunities for social connection in suburban housing that in turn prompted a nationwide revival in community planning. In the Northeast, this renewed interest manifested itself most vividly, and forcefully, in the region’s fastest-growing metropolitan area: Washington, D.C. Here, reform-minded developers Robert E. Simon of New York and James Rouse of Baltimore, motivated by a desire to curb tract housing by emulating the new towns of Europe, started work on the new communities of Reston and Columbia, respectively.71 By middecade, more ordinary builders, including the Paparazzos in central Connecticut, also began to take note of these shifts. Everywhere, the housing trend was facilitated by “planned unit development” (PUD), a novel kind of zoning overlay that began to appear in the early 1950s in the Bay Area, Southern California, and suburban Washington, D.C., which allowed for the clustering of homes on a given site, including in attached houses or apartments, so long as the overall density of the tract did not increase. Long championed by reformers as a way to avoid monotony, enhance community, and preserve open space, these kinds of developments now began to find wider acceptance.72
A mixture of marketing considerations and politics shaped the Paparazzos’ choice of the active-retirement format. By 1965, the success of Sun City and the Leisure Worlds had demonstrated the demand for planned senior communities. (That most of the tenants at the Heritage Apartments turned out to be seniors further underscored the importance of this market for the Paparazzo brothers.) Meanwhile, Southbury leaders regarded the development of the Pomperaug Valley parcel with trepidation, especially as the acquisition of additional properties increased its size to around 1,000 acres. Although the land was already zoned for housing, the scale of the development raised worries about traffic and the cost of services. By limiting residency to older adults (no burden on schools, few commuters), the project promised to address both concerns.73
A similar calculus motivated the choice of Callister as architect. Henry Paparazzo, president of the operation, and Otto Paparazzo, who took special interest in architecture and site planning, spent “weeks” studying work by “leaders in home community design,” then interviewed “ten or twelve” architects nationally and visited some twenty projects. Their search ended when they toured Rossmoor. They went straight to Callister’s office to speak with him, and then in April 1965, they flew him to New York and on to Southbury by helicopter. Offering Callister even more autonomy than Cortese had, they also agreed to what one trade magazine characterized as a “staggering” fee: $200,000 ($1.9 million in 2019 dollars). Callister’s preliminary scheme, conceived over the summer, not only promised attractive, forward-looking housing and a commercial center that would keep residents from venturing outside the community for day-to-day needs but also sought to preserve much of the site’s natural beauty. The town quickly approved and site work began in the fall.74
Callister built the scheme for Heritage Village directly on that of Rossmoor, echoing the earlier project both physically and socially. The program included medical care, a swimming pool, hobby and meeting rooms, classrooms, a theater, shuttle bus service, stables, trails, and, once additional acreage was added, a golf course. Existing structures, including barns, two eighteenth-century houses (one used most recently as the country seat of comedian and pianist Victor Borge, and the other reportedly once owned by Ethan Allen), and a mansion of more recent vintage, became clubhouses and other facilities (as did the two existing Dollar family houses at Rossmoor). Outside the gates, the Village Green commercial center included a hotel and conference facilities, a “financial center,” a “professional building,” a market for daily shopping, and the Bazaar, an innovative open-plan regional mall occupied by high-end specialty stores (see Figure 21).
As he had at Rossmoor, Callister arranged Heritage Village as a “village of neighborhoods” (originally nine, later more).75 Each section comprised several clusters, or “garden courts,” of four to six buildings of two to six units, grouped around small common areas that one resident characterized as “charming” and “extremely popular” (Figures 16 and 17). Parking was in small garages grouped a short walk from the apartments, insulating the courts from autos and asphalt.76 Initially marketed as Condominium I, Condominium II, and so on, the neighborhood sections soon received more evocative names recalling their particular natural settings, such as Lakeview, North Pond, Durkee Hill, and Krueger Woods. (Unlike at Rossmoor, apartments in Heritage Village sold on the individual-title plan of ownership, known as condominium in the United States, which superseded corporate-title co-ownership, or cooperative ownership, in most of the country in the mid-1960s; Figure 18.)77 As at Rossmoor, the provision of private outdoor space for every apartment tempered the communal emphasis (Figure 19). Additionally, Callister oriented the apartments’ living areas, with their large plate-glass windows, away from the courts and toward the woods, lake, and golf course.
Heritage Village’s design surpassed even Rossmoor’s in its inventiveness, which was striking for speculative housing—and helped to attract a more affluent and well-educated clientele, including many Manhattan sophisticates. Eager to fit the “mood” (one of the architect’s frequently used, if vague, design concepts) of rural Connecticut, Callister found inspiration not in Japan but in New England, playing with colors and forms inspired by regional vernaculars, from the barn to the town common. At the same time, Otto Paparazzo, keen to exploit the increasingly chic “California feeling” for which Callister was known and that had so impressed him at Rossmoor, insisted that the architect recycle at least some references to the Bay Region style. The housing that resulted was hybrid but highly original, with boxy, barnlike volumes clad in rough-sawn cedar stained in natural-looking colors (Figure 20; see Figure 17). The architecture of the Village Green commercial center was even more exciting, especially at the Bazaar, the design of which was led by partner Jack Payne, with its massive wood structural frame and wayfinding supergraphics by Barbara Stauffacher, who had recently done the photogenic paintwork at California’s highly publicized community The Sea Ranch (Figure 21). Throughout, custom lighting, railings, window trim, meter boxes, trash sheds, mailbox enclosures, and more, which the Paparazzos agreed to produce on-site at a dedicated carpentry shop, liberated Callister’s buildings from the use of stock elements.78
Heritage Village also outdid Rossmoor in its relationship to the land. To begin, the project set aside 850 community garden plots and a wildlife preserve of more than 100 acres. In addition, the Paparazzos allowed Callister to experiment with what the architect referred to variously as “field construction,” “sculpting in the field,” and “architecture on the spot,” a highly unusual arrangement for speculative housing. While the locations of major elements were fixed, the Paparazzos and their enthusiastic lender and equity partner, Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance of Philadelphia, essentially allowed Callister to shape Heritage Village without a site plan. Borrowing a technique he had learned from photographer Minor White—who, according to the architect, “listened” to places, sometimes for days, before photographing them—Callister walked the land before each new phase, in advance of the bulldozers, to determine the sites for the buildings cluster by cluster, drawing upon a suite of adaptable plans, some for upslope conditions, some for downslope (see Figure 15).79 This uncommon process yielded an uncommon harmony with nature. As veteran design journal editor and Heritage Village resident Joseph B. Mason later reflected, the greatest appeal of the place lay in how “the houses were sited to fit the land, and the…trees and landscape were preserved.”80
The freedom that Callister had to work in this unusual way was in part a result of the great authority that Rossmoor had earned him. It was also necessitated by the site’s conditions: Heritage Village’s rolling terrain required that nearly every building be customized to some degree. Most of all, however, the process reflected Callister’s unique relationship with Otto Paparazzo, which the architect characterized as one of “mutual respect and rapport.”81 Paparazzo (1925–2014), who had graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, was receptive to the informal and collaborative environment of Callister’s office and enjoyed close contact with his architect. Throughout the project’s early years, he and Callister’s on-site staff, which at various times included more than a dozen designers, shared office space in an old barn (later remodeled into the Women’s Club for the complex) with only occasional friction—a far cry from the usual contentious relationship between architect and developer.82
Unsurprisingly, Heritage Village ended more happily for Callister than did Rossmoor. He saw the project through to completion, and with nearly 600 more apartments than originally discussed (2,580 in total). By 1976, when the last new unit sold, 4,450 “Villagers” called the community home.83 The collaboration between Callister and Otto Paparazzo did not end there. The builder, with and without his brothers, went on to develop several more master-planned communities in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and beyond, some for seniors, some for all ages. Callister designed most of them, and in 1968 he opened an office in Amherst, Massachusetts, to keep up with the work. (Later the Paparazzo family also worked with other talented designers, including McHarg.)
Assessing Callister’s Designs
The enthusiastic attention showered on Rossmoor and Heritage Village by the press, the authority with which Callister discussed the projects, and their strong sales records all reinforced the architect’s status as an expert in the design of retirement housing and planned communities.84 As the San Francisco Examiner suggested, through Rossmoor Callister had “gleaned more about the goals, fears, habits, needs and quirks of character of persons in their second half century than the average psychologist picks up in a lifetime.”85 But what had Callister actually learned? To return to the questions posed at the beginning of this article, was he justified in his conclusions? Did Callister’s approach generate material benefits for seniors and thus merit special recognition and replication?
In reality, Callister could claim little specialized knowledge of the housing needs of older people. His research, in fact, seems to have been limited to visits to Cortese’s original Leisure World. Admittedly, he had few sources available to consult other than a small number of housing preference surveys and a few disapproving critiques of senior housing by public intellectuals like Mead and Mumford. The former dismissed the idea of communities organized by age as “golden ghettos.” The latter, writing shortly after turning sixty himself, argued that “the worst possible attitude…is to regard the aged as a segregated group, who are to be removed…from the presence of their families, their neighbors, and their friends, from their familiar quarters and their familiar neighborhoods, from their normal interests and responsibilities.” Dedicated housing, in this reading, offered little more than “desolate idleness, relieved only by the presence of others in a similar plight.”86
By contrast, some of Callister’s contemporaries and patrons attempted to dig deeper into questions around senior housing. Webb’s staff, after learning about Youngtown, consulted with Robert J. Havighurst, a trained chemist who had devoted most of his academic career to studying human development, education, and aging. Cortese, too, according to Trolander, met with experts at the University of Southern California. Later, he endowed the Rossmoor-Cortese Institute for the Study of Retirement and Aging, which eventually became the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Most of the experts with whom the builders spoke, however, agreed with Mead and Mumford that seniors should not, and would not, segregate themselves. Webb’s executives, undeterred, visited trailer courts, residential hotels, and early senior subdivisions in Florida to seek out alternative accounts and experiences, and what they found suggested that the active-retirement model had promise.87
Callister, though, followed his intuition, which was shaped in large measure by the professional discourse around community design. And this, in the mid-1960s, meant one thing above all else: the neighborhood unit plan.88 Clarence Perry, an advocate for playgrounds and recreation centers, invented the concept of the neighborhood unit in the 1920s as a way to sow middle-class values in all children of the modern metropolis. Fueled by Ruskinian nostalgia for the preindustrial village and the belief that a bounded community could foster stronger relationships than a bigger community, Perry proposed to use a combination of boundaries and shared community facilities to manage children’s social lives and development. First tested in the interwar projects of Clarence S. Stein, who billed himself as a “community architect,” and Henry Wright, most famously at Radburn, the neighborhood unit gained traction with avant-garde groups like Telesis as well as with FHA and the Urban Land Institute. Despite the growing reservations of progressive planners, by the 1940s the neighborhood unit became orthodoxy in community planning and subdivision design in the United States and, increasingly, around the world.89
Although Perry conceived the neighborhood unit for young families, Callister believed that its utility extended beyond child rearing.90 “A communal architecture is the essence of the environment” in senior complexes, he wrote. “The buildings are grouping around the occasions of meeting—the daily business of participation with your neighbor.” In short, for Callister, the architecture of Rossmoor and Heritage Village served as a kind of “stagecraft” to direct social life.91 Callister, who seems to have been unfamiliar with new studies in the social sciences in the late 1940s and 1950s that found tentative connections between social contact and patterns of circulation in housing, admitted that his intuitions might be off.92 Still, he argued, Rossmoor and Heritage Village met “a desperate need. These people have been segregated from their families anyway…from children who were not paying them much attention.”93 (Callister’s own parents still lived in Texas, 2,000 miles away.)
Despite these decidedly soft foundations—and Mumford’s warning that “we must not for a moment imagine that the architect…can provide the answers” for seniors (“or that beauty and order and convenience alone are sufficient” to meet seniors’ needs)—Callister’s faith in the theories of his formative years, including the notion, to paraphrase Mumford, that there is less chance of knowing your neighbors on a block with a thousand people than on one that holds a hundred, appears to have been borne out.94 In contrast to contemporaneous claims by Berkeley planning scholar Melvin M. Webber that modern communications meant community no longer depended on “propinquity” (proximity), residents of Callister’s complexes not only claimed to develop a fresh outlook on life but also quickly developed a sense of fellowship.95
This effect was especially strong in specific neighborhoods and clusters. Complex-wide clubs—for riding, hiking, chess, music, gardening, bridge, and more—allowed people to form friendships with others who shared their interests, but the village model mattered, too (Figure 22). As one resident wrote after three years at Heritage Village, “When the [central] Activities Building opened…we began making new friends on a basis of mutual interest rather than proximity and shared experience.” Yet “no matter how many” neighborhoods “arise and how many new enterprises engage our attention, we all…have the peaceful retreat of our own clusters, with…the shady patios and green lawns and the good neighbors, who can be relied on for companionship in idle hours and help in emergencies…and we are grateful.”96 Two postoccupancy studies of Rossmoor (commissioned by the new owners after Cortese lost control and conducted by outside research firms) corroborated this idea. They also suggested that this neighborhood effect deepened over time, with long-standing residents less active in complex-wide activities than newcomers but more likely to rate their neighbors favorably.97 Not everyone loved Callister’s arrangements. The surveys revealed that nearly one in five found the buildings repetitive or too close together, and more than half, when prompted, agreed that the houses were “drab.” But as a social terrain, the village of neighborhoods proved a success. More than three in four respondents found their neighbors to be “exceptional” or at least “friendly,” and more than seven in eight were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with life in the community. Virtually everyone appreciated the open space and vistas afforded by Callister’s site plan.98
Going forward, the neighborhood unit became standard in planned retirement communities, including The Villages in Florida, launched in the 1980s and today the largest senior complex in the world, with approximately 130,000 residents.99 Relatively few projects featured the fine-grained clustering characteristic of Rossmoor and Heritage Village because the 1980s saw a return to Sun City’s model of detached single-family houses. Still, nearly all senior communities, regardless of housing type or style, used a mixture of recreation centers, shopping centers, and, in some cases, gates to create the feeling of living in “a collection of quaint retirement neighborhoods,” as the promotional literature of The Villages describes it.100 Research on the social and health benefits of village arrangements remains thin despite the emergence of specialized fields such as environmental gerontology and the proliferation of retirement complexes in the United States (by the end of the 1970s there were already at least 2,400 such communities, with more than a million residents). But most of the investigations that have been conducted have corroborated the early findings at Rossmoor and Heritage Village and, in turn, Callister’s assumptions.101
Solving the Problem of Community
In the 1940s, under the heady influence of European modernist social housing and the collectivism of the New Deal and World War II, Callister, like many young U.S. designers, came to believe that architecture and planning could solve vexing social problems and generate new, more enduring forms of what he called “actual community.” Reorganizing the metropolis according to best practices, he wrote, “is the only realistic approach to freedom from our chaotic patterns” and “the falseness of materialistic collectivism.”102
Such naive attitudes came under increasing scrutiny in the 1950s and 1960s, as architects and planners applied them to the redevelopment of city centers, ripping asunder Black, Latinx, and other ethnic and predominantly working-class communities. Other U.S. observers, watching the planned communities of Reston and Columbia struggle to sell their more avant-garde multifamily units, including row-type houses designed by Charles Goodman and Chloethiel Woodard Smith, interpreted those failures as further evidence of the futility of community planning. More recently, skepticism about the claims of the New Urbanism movement, which emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, has underscored such doubts about the power of the physical environment to shape, much less determine, social outcomes. Yet the experiences of Rossmoor and Heritage Village also suggest that at least among certain groups, in certain circumstances, form does indeed matter. In such settings, neighborhood, however artificial, can encourage neighboring.
Callister’s retirement complexes did nothing to advance his larger, more utopian goals. Neither Rossmoor nor Heritage Village challenged the social geography or stratification of the capitalist city. Both, at least in the beginning, were overwhelmingly, if not entirely, white. And despite modest sales prices, the communities attracted well-heeled residents, often with highbrow tastes, echoing a pattern observed at other innovative planned communities in the twentieth century, from Ebenezer Howard’s Letchworth to Stein’s and Wright’s Radburn. Many of the men who lived in Rossmoor and Heritage Village had been employed in the professions or big business; many other residents, both men and women, came from the worlds of education and the arts. Rossmoor alone was home to hundreds of former teachers, professors, and school and university administrators. Alongside groups for veterans and for Chevron oil company employees, as well as groups devoted to politics, singing, and knitting, Rossmoor hosted a chapter of the American Association of University Women. Fewer public data are available for Heritage Village, but records indicate that the residents included many writers, among them a well-known drama critic and Pulitzer Prize winner; a former editor of Professional Builder and Good Housekeeping magazines; people from the worlds of music and art, such as sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (who lived with her “companion,” Ruth Talcott); the well-known literacy activist and feminist Welthy Honsinger Fisher; and a longtime Soviet spy.103
Still, the casual intimacy encouraged by Callister’s designs offered residents a novel and valuable sense of well-being. Perhaps, too, his designs achieved something more transcendent. Planned communities, Callister believed, not only offer beauty and pleasure but also afford “a new kind of regrouping” of our otherwise increasingly fragmented society: a “re-clustering into [a] more natural interaction,” free of ancient tribal prejudices or religious biases. In this way, such environments allow us “to find the most humanistic freedom of meaningful and fulfilling interrelationships.”104
Residents of Rossmoor and Heritage Village—largely Protestant, upper-middle-class, and white—surely did not understand their homes in such terms. Yet as one Heritage Villager wrote, he and his neighbors moved there from “many kinds of communities” and “widely diversified walks of life.” As a result, “one might very well think that this heterogeneous group would find it impossible to settle down and become not only neighbors but good friends. But that is exactly what they have done.” As individuals and as a group, they “adjust[ed] to communal living and have done so with tolerance, understanding and good humor.” As for the role of the physical—the clustering that so impressed the design juries? “The splendor of the hillsides, the fairways and the ‘cool green squares’ ” of the individual courtyards qualified Heritage Village as “superlative.” “Like it? We love it!”105
I am grateful to Anna Andrzejewski and Willa Granger for their feedback on a paper I delivered at their session at the SAH 2020 Virtual Conference, “The Architecture of Aging,” which served as the basis for this article, and to my fellow panelists and our audience for their comments and questions. I am also grateful to the staff, past and present, of the Environmental Design Archives at the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley, including Chris Marino, Jason Miller, Emily Vigor, and, especially, Waverly Lowell, for providing me all but unfettered access over many years to the Callister collection, both before and after processing; to William Stout for speaking to me about his work with Callister’s firm in the 1960s; to Karen Christensen and Kathy Jones for providing me access to Rossmoor; to Robert Bruegmann for his detailed comments on the manuscript; to Deborah Dash Moore for her insights on Jewish communalism; to JSAH editor David Karmon and the two anonymous reviewers for their rich, thoughtful, and helpful suggestions and queries; and to Hunter College, PSC-CUNY, and Georgia State University for research support.
Home Builders Association of Chicagoland, Apartment Council Seminar, 31 Oct.–1 Nov. 1968, flyer, folder II.7, Charles Warren Callister Collection, Environmental Design Archives, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley (hereafter EDA CWCC).
Photo stand-alone, Hartford Courant, 26 June 1967, D6.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1966 Honor Awards for Design Excellence (booklet) (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1966), 24.
“Design: Good Partnership,” Time, 19 June 1964, 52–53; Robert L. Siegel, “The Pros and Cons of Retirement Cities,” House Beautiful, Oct. 1964, 218–23, 245–50; John Peter, “Retirement Country Club,” Look, 13 Dec. 1966; “Landscaped for Living,” Look, 17 Sept. 1968, t24–26.
“Birth of an $80,000,000 Community: How Heritage Village Started and Grew,” Heritage Villager 3, no. 16 (15 Nov. 1969), 3, folder III.71, EDA CWCC.
The question of the power of physical form has long cast a shadow over the field of community planning and has been explored most recently and thoroughly in the work of scholars concerned with the New Urbanism movement. See, for example, Emily Talen, “Sense of Community and Neighborhood Form: An Assessment of the Social Doctrine of New Urbanism,” Urban Studies 36, no. 8 (July 1999), 1361–79; Emily Talen, “Plan vs. Process: The Case of Neigbourhood Planning,” Built Environment 45, no. 2 (Summer 2019), 173–89; Howard Gillette Jr., Civitas by Design: Building Better Communities, from the Garden City to the New Urbanism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
Clarence Arthur Perry, “The Neighborhood Unit: A Scheme for the Family-Life Community,” in Regional Survey, vol. 7, Neighborhood and Community Planning (New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1929), 20–140; Clarence Arthur Perry, Housing for the Machine Age (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1939), esp. chap. 3.
Lewis Mumford, “The Neighborhood and the Neighborhood Unit,” Town Planning Review 24, no. 4 (Jan. 1954), 256–70; Eugenie Ladner Birch, “Radburn and the American Planning Movement: The Persistence of an Idea,” Journal of the American Planning Association 46, no. 4 (Oct. 1980), 424–39; Christopher Silver, “Neighborhood Planning in Historical Perspective,” Journal of the American Planning Association 51, no. 2 (1985), 161–74; Jason Brody, “The Neighbourhood Unit Concept and the Shaping of Land Planning in the United States 1912–1968,” Journal of Urban Design 18, no. 3 (2013), 340–62; Donald Leslie Johnson, “Origin of the Neighbourhood Unit,” Planning Perspectives 17, no. 3 (July 2002), 227–45; Benjamin Looker, A Nation of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), chap. 2; Emily Talen, Neighborhood (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), chap. 3.
Marc A. Weiss, The Rise of the Community Builders: The American Real Estate Industry and Urban Land Planning (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987); Richard Longstreth, “The Levitts, Mass-Produced Houses, and Community Planning in the Mid-Twentieth Century,” in Second Suburb: Levittown, Pennsylvania, ed. Dianne Harris (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008).
Matthew Gordon Lasner, “Swingsites for Singles: New Housing for New Households in Mid-century America,” Places Journal, Oct. 2014, https://doi.org/10.22269/141007 (accessed 14 July 2021).
Michael E. Hunt, Allan G. Feldt, Robert W. Marans, Leon A. Pastalan, and Kathleen Vakalo, “The Retirement Community Phenomenon,” Journal of Housing for the Elderly 1, nos. 3–4 (Winter 1983), 1–2; Lewis Mumford, “For Older People—Not Segregation but Integration,” Architectural Record 119, no. 5 (May 1956), 192.
Judith Ann Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages: A History of Active Adult, Age-Restricted Communities (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011); John Findlay, Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture after 1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), chap. 4; Matthew Gordon Lasner, High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2012). For another recent architectural history of housing for the elderly, see Willa Granger, “Constructing Old Age: Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and the Architecture of Homes for the Aged, 1870–1965” (PhD diss., University of Texas, 2021).
Corinne T. Field and Nicholas L. Syrett, eds., “Chronological Age: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” AHR Roundtable, American Historical Review 125, no. 2 (Apr. 2020), 371–84.
Callister’s failure to complete his degree has been confirmed by G. Elizabeth Hankins, Student Academic Records, Office of the Registrar, University of Texas at Austin, email correspondence with author, 15 June 2021.
See, for example, folders I.4 and I.23, EDA CWCC. On Mumford, see Peter Ekman, “Diagnosing Suburban Ruin: A Prehistory of Mumford’s Postwar Jeremiad,” Journal of Planning History 15, no. 2 (May 2016), 108–28.
Charles Warren Callister, “Ecology,” course paper for Sociology 346, University of Texas, 16 May 1941, folder I.24, EDA CWCC.
Charles Warren Callister, “Telesis,” typescript, folder I.4, EDA CWCC. I discuss Telesis and its members’ activities in my book in progress, “The Communitarians: Bay Area Architects and the Quest to Rehouse America.”
Micaela DuCasse and Suzanne B. Riess, “Charles Warren Callister: Creating Places of Worship and Contemplation,” in Renaissance of Religious Art and Architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1946–1968, vol. 1 (Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library, University of California, 1985), 289; Charles Warren Callister, untitled notes in pen and pencil (for remarks at Jack Hillmer’s funeral or memorial service), folder I.18, EDA CWCC; “Seeds of Inspiration: Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Northern California Organic Art and Architecture,” homemade exhibition catalogue, Canessa Gallery, San Francisco, 1–27 Feb. 1999, folder III.45, EDA CWCC; Jack Hillmer, handwritten narrative biography, Jack Hillmer Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Jack Hillmer and Charles Warren Callister, carbon copy of typed description of Hall House prepared for Life magazine, July 1948, 3, Jack Hillmer Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Sally B. Woodbridge, “Charles Warren Callister,” in Toward a Simpler Way of Life: The Arts & Crafts Architects of California, ed. Robert Winter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 255.
“Hall Home Express Personality of Owners,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 10 Sept. 1949, M14–15; “San Francisco Houses: Photographs for LIFE by Charles Steinheimer,” Life, 5 Sept. 1949, 46–47.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, notes on “The Industry Capitalism Forgot,” Fortune, Aug. 1947, ca. 1947, folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
Law Office of Molly H. Minudri, San Francisco, Brief of Defendant and Cross-Complainant Roy Flamm (vs. Jack P. Hillmer, Plaintiff and Cross-Defendant), in the Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the City and County of San Francisco, Action No. 524726 and No. 524727, 1–3, Jack Hillmer Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Charles Warren Callister, narrative biography, typescript, undated, folder I.1, EDA CWCC; Diane Smith, “Warren Callister’s Designs at Town Hall,” Ark Beat, 1 Dec. 1999, AB7; Paul Heyer, Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America (London: Allen Lane, 1967), 104. In September 1949 it was reported that Callister and Hillmer were to design another house in Kent Woodlands, for client Peter Ribar, but only Callister worked on the project. See “Hall Home Express Personality of Owners.”
Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, quoted in Woodbridge, “Charles Warren Callister,” 255.
For early evidence of his compassion, see Charles Warren Callister, “Analysis with Prejudice, Warren Callister 10-26-40,” manuscript, folder I.21, EDA CWCC. In this essay, Callister critiques the University of Texas’s architecture program for not supporting students of modest means.
Charles Warren Callister, notes on “Sociology, Rex Hopper, 1940–1941,” folder I.21, EDA CWCC. See also Charles Warren Callister, narrative biography, typescript, ca. 1992, folder I.1, EDA CWCC; Callister, untitled notes in pen and pencil (for remarks at Jack Hillmer’s funeral or memorial service); Callister, “Ecology.”
DuCasse and Riess, “Charles Warren Callister,” 289; “Biographical Sketch of Hugo Leipziger-Pearce (1902–1998),” Hugo Leipziger-Pearce Collection, Texas Archival Resources Online, Alexander Architectural Archive[s], University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin, https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utaaa/00004/aaa-00004.html (accessed 28 July 2020); “Leipziger-Pearce, Hugo,” Herder-Institut für Historiche Ostmitteleuropaforschung—Institut der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, https://www.herder-institut.de/startseite.html (accessed 28 Aug. 2020).
Callister, narrative biography, typescript, ca. 1992.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, page headed “Oct. 15, 1949,” folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
“AVC to Hold Vet Housing Meeting,” Times (San Mateo, Calif.), 1 June 1946, 3.
Callister also designed model houses for Reedlands, with landscape design by Lawrence Halprin, and participated in marketing the lots, giving a public talk at the first model and leading a tour of the project for other architects. “New Officers Named by Peninsula Unit,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 2 Dec. 1955, 8; “Apartment Subdivision near Bel Aire Approved,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 8 Mar. 1956, 8; “Model Home to Be Shown at Reedlands,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 23 Nov. 1956, 22.
The garden apartments, in Tiburon, were for Kenneth Abernathy: “Marin Planners Approve Wolfe Grade Tract,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 1 Oct. 1957, 15.
“Unit to Study Policy for Hillside Lots,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 4 Apr. 1958, 2.
The primary architect of the shopping center, the Boardwalk, was John Lord King. In 1957, Allen also partnered with Callister on a proposal for a new civic center for Marin County, but that commission went to Frank Lloyd Wright. “Boardwalk Shop Center Year Old This Week,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 7 Feb. 1957, 25; “S. F. Architect Firm Bids for Civic Center,” Independent-Journal (San Rafael, Calif.), 1 May 1957, 18.
Charles Warren Callister, notes in pencil, page headed “How Does He Do It?,” folder III.53, EDA CWCC.
“Apartments in Belvedere: Bold Forms Sit at Anchor over San Francisco Bay,” Architectural Forum 119, no. 1 (July 1963), 114–15; “The Apartment Scene: It’s Like Living on a Boat,” Los Angeles Times Home, 12 Oct. 1969, 56–57.
Barbara Miller Lane, Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs, 1945–1964 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2015), 81–91; Lasner, High Life, 172–77; Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, 82–97. On community builders, see Weiss, Rise of the Community Builders.
Lasner, High Life, 163–72; Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, 23–27, 39–46. On earlier examples, from the 1920s, see Hunt et al., “Retirement Community Phenomenon,” 1.
Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, chap. 2; Findlay, Magic Lands, chap. 4; Matthew Gordon Lasner, “The Complex: Social Difference and the Suburban Apartment in Postwar America,” in Making Suburbia: New Histories of Everyday America, ed. John Archer, Paul J. P. Sandul, and Katherine Solomonson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), 343–63; Kevin E. McHugh and Elizabeth M. Larson-Keagy, “These White Walls: The Dialectic of Retirement Communities,” Journal of Aging Studies 19, no. 2 (May 2005), 241–56; Mumford, “For Older People,” 192. On loneliness, see Jill Lepore, “The Isolation Ward: On Loneliness,” New Yorker, 6 Apr. 2020, 64.
Lasner, High Life, 163–72; Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, 97–98; “Is Retirement Housing Today’s Best Bet for Boosting Sales?,” House & Home 25, no. 4 (Apr. 1964), 106–17; Siegel, “Pros and Cons of Retirement Cities.”
Tom Barratt, director of Golden Rain Foundation, Leisure World Seal Beach, interview by author, 25 Oct. 2007; Lane, Houses for a New World, 89–91; Tom Cameron, “Nailing It Down,” Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 1963, O1; Siegel, “Pros and Cons of Retirement Cities.”
“Is Retirement Housing Today’s Best Bet?”; “How to Appeal to Regional Tastes in Garden Apartments,” House & Home 29, no. 1 (Jan. 1966), 84–85.
“The Architecture of Warren Callister,” House & Home 22, no. 1 (July 1962), 107, 118. On the influence of this House & Home article, see “Is Retirement Housing Today’s Best Bet?”
For examples of ethnographic studies of Eastern European Jewish community life in the twentieth-century United States, see Barbara Myerhoff, Number Our Days (New York: Dutton, 1978); Kenneth L. Kann, Comrades and Chicken Ranchers: The Story of a California Jewish Community (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993).
Ironically, no matter the emphasis on community, the remote Arizona desert proved not communal enough for many Jews, who continued to gravitate to the sociability of places like South Florida. Few were attracted to either of Schliefer’s projects or, for that matter, Sun City; the same proved true of the California Leisure Worlds. Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, 43–45, 57; “Will Tell YMHA of Soviet Trip,” Hartford Courant, 8 June 1934, 10; Jack Lefler (Associated Press), “Special Oldster Community Caters to Retired Persons,” Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), 2 Dec. 1955, 13.
“Callister’s Thoughts for the Panel Discussion,” typescript, attachment to carbon copy of letter, Mrs. John Harte [Charles Warren Callister’s secretary] to Abba I. Polangin, National Association of Home Builders, 1 Oct. 1970, folder II.7, EDA CWCC.
Callister, “Ecology”; Charles Warren Callister, “C.W.C. Talk to Arizona State University Students—March 22, 1967,” typescript, folder II.21, EDA CWCC; Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, page headed “Environment 11/47,” folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
Charles Warren Callister, “Environmental Resources Co-operative Corporation,” notes, folder II.25, EDA CWCC.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, folder I.7, EDA CWCC; Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, folder I.8, EDA CWCC; Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, page headed “Oct. 15, 1949,” folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
Callister, notebooks, folder I.7; “ ‘Artful Architecture’ Show to Open Tuesday,” newspaper clipping, n.d., folder II.33, EDA CWCC; Callister, “Environmental Resources Co-operative Corporation”; pencil drawing for event flyer, folder II.21, EDA CWCC.
Miles Lanier Colean, “Reminiscences of Miles Lanier Colean: Oral History, 1975,” interviewed by Scott Burns, transcript, 47–48, 67, Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University. See also Seward H. Mott, “Past Mistakes in Decentralization: Lessons Learned for Their Avoidance in the Future,” Landscape Architecture Magazine 39, no. 4 (July 1949), 187–89.
William H. Whyte, Cluster Development (New York: American Conservation Association, 1964).
Memorandum, Michael Kaplan [to unspecified], “Rossmore [sic] Cost Evaluation,” 27 July 1964, photocopy, unknown folder, EDA CWCC; “Summary: Rossmoor Living Units 1962–1975,” undated, photocopy of typescript, unknown folder, EDA CWCC; Callister & Payne, one-sheet description of Rossmoor, folder III.75, EDA CWCC.
“Density Analysis,” typed notes, 23 July 1964, photocopy, unknown folder, EDA CWCC.
Gerald Adams, “Would I Be Happy in a Retirement Village?,” San Francisco Examiner, 17 May 1964, 4.
Charles Warren Callister, quoted in Adams, 5. For price conversions, the most recent data available at the time of this writing were for 2019; I have employed the Unskilled Wage Index found at Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1790 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2021, https://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare (accessed 21 July 2021).
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, “Disarm the Police,” draft news release, ca. 1968, folder I.9., EDA CWCC.
Callister, quoted in Adams, “Would I Be Happy in a Retirement Village?,” 5.
Callister, quoted in Adams, 5.
William H. Whyte, The Organization Man (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1956), pt. VII.
Lasner, High Life, 192; Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, page headed “Rossmoor June 23, 1964,” folder I.82, EDA CWCC.
Callister, quoted in Adams, “Would I Be Happy in a Retirement Village?,” 5.
On corporate-title ownership, including limited equity, and the Section 213 program, see Lasner, High Life. In later phases at Rossmoor, each neighborhood was set up as a multiple mutual, which ultimately resulted in a total of eighteen. Also, units built after 1968 were organized on the individual-title, or condominium, plan of ownership. On Bauer, see Catherine Bauer, Modern Housing (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934).
The first neighborhood at Rossmoor (“Mutual 1”), with 465 apartments, sold out on the first day of sales—an extraordinary feat. “Design: Good Partnership”; “Is Retirement Housing Today’s Best Bet?”
Alan Brockbank, quoted in “Is Retirement Housing Today’s Best Bet?,” 110.
“Summary: Rossmoor Living Units 1962–1975”; “Your Pocket Companion in Japan,” binder with itinerary for Mr. & Mrs. Warren Callister and Mr. John Payne, Japan, 13 Oct.–7 Nov. 1964, annotated, folder I.25, EDA CWCC. On the sale of Rossmoor, see “Cortese Sells Out of Trouble,” House & Home 33 no. 6 (June 1968), 26.
The other six projects for which Callister was commissioned during this period were all in California: Hiller Highlands in Oakland, Valencia in Newhall, Campus Commons in Sacramento, Dias Ranch in Marin County, Shelter Ridge in Mill Valley, and Sycamore in Danville.
Robert Schafer, The Suburbanization of Multifamily Housing (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1974), app. A, 126–27. On this shift more broadly, see Lasner, “The Complex.”
The Joseph Stein who designed the Heritage Apartments should not be confused with the Bay Area modernist Joseph Allen Stein. On the Heritage Apartments and Heritage Village, see “Skimming the Cream Off Today’s Rental Market,” House & Home 33, no. 4 (Apr. 1968), 80; “Birth of an $80,000,000 Community,” 3.
Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Suburban Alchemy: 1960s New Towns and the Transformation of the American Dream (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001); Ann Forsyth, Reforming Suburbia: The Planned Communities of Irvine, Columbia, and The Woodlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).
On PUD, see, for instance, Andrew H. Whittemore, “The New Communalism: The Unrealized Mid-Twentieth Century Vision of Planned Unit Development,” Journal of Planning History 14, no. 3 (Aug. 2015), 246.
“Skimming the Cream Off Today’s Rental Market,” 80; Betty Tyler, “Heritage Village,” Bridgeport Post, 11 Feb. 1968, C1.
James P. Gallagher, “Here’s What It Takes to Create a Brand-New Market,” House & Home 31, no. 4 (Apr. 1967), 86–87; “Design Award Winner,” Practical Builder, May 1967, tear sheet, folder III.227, EDA CWCC; “Birth of an $80,000,000 Community,” 3; “Leading Architect Views Heritage Village Site,” New Haven Register, 29 Apr. 1965; William Stout, staff architect for Callister at Heritage Village, interview by author, 29 July 2016; “Improvised Siting for Planned Community,” Progressive Architecture 48, no. 12 (Dec. 1967), 118–19.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, page headed “H/V Nov. 22 1966 items of consideration,” folder I.88, EDA CWCC. On ownership systems, see Lasner, High Life.
Joseph B. Mason, History of Housing in the U.S. 1930–1980 (Houston: Gulf, 1982), 120.
On plans of ownership, see Lasner, High Life.
“The Architect Discusses Heritage Village—and Its Builders,” House & Home 31, no. 4 (Apr. 1967), 87; Wood in Buildings, Western Wood brochure promoting various shopping centers, including Heritage Village Bazaar, ca. 1970, folder III.71, EDA CWCC; “The Simple Details That Add Up to Striking Design,” House & Home 31, no. 4 (Apr. 1967), 88–91.
In addition to photographing the Hall House, White had taught a course that Callister had taken at the San Francisco Museum of Art. S. Archie Holdridge, “Garden Projects Increasing,” Hartford Courant, 17 Apr. 1977, A17; Stout, interview by author; Gallagher, “Here’s What It Takes,” 78–79; “Architect Discusses Heritage Village,” 87; “Design Award Winner”; “Improvised Siting for Planned Community,” 114; Richard Keding, “Warren Callister and His Architecture,” Taliesin Fellows Newsletter, 15 Oct. 2002, 5–7; Dave Weinstein, “Listening for Architecture,” San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Mar. 2004, E1; “Adult Village Opens in Southbury,” Hartford Courant, 20 Nov. 1966, D1.
Mason, History of Housing in the U.S., 120.
Charles Warren Callister, quoted in “Architect Discusses Heritage Village,” 87.
“Improvised Siting for Planned Community,” 115; Stout, interview by author; “Birth of an $80,000,000 Community,” 3. Staff who worked on Heritage Village included Charles Bass, James (Jim) Bischoff, Paul Bradly, Bruce Collins, Rob Cormack, James (Jim) Hahn, Jack Jones, William Lyons, Ian McLeod, Alfred Morrissette, August Rath, Bryon Ruth, Harry Reid, Terry Stephens, and William Stout.
“Heritage Village, First N.E. Adult Town, Completes Sale of Last Unoccupied Unit,” Bridgeport Post, 11 July 1976, G1. Eighty-nine more units, also designed by Callister, may have been added the following year; still more were added later. “89 Condos Planned in Southbury,” Hartford Courant, 6 Mar. 1977, D16; Anne M. Hamilton, “Home Builder with a Unique Vision,” Hartford Courant, 26 Oct. 2014, B5.
At Heritage Village the sales pace was less frenzied than at Rossmoor (see note 65, above) but still enviable: roughly 225 apartments were sold in the first year. This rate was all the more notable given that for many months the complex could not be advertised in New York State because the Office of the State Attorney General had to review all multifamily offerings. “Housing Market’s Revolution—and What It Means to Builders,” House & Home 33, no. 1 (Jan. 1968), 59.
Adams, “Would I Be Happy in a Retirement Village?,” 4.
Margaret Mead, quoted in Hunt et al., “Retirement Community Phenomenon,” 1–2; Mumford, “For Older People,” 192.
Trolander, From Sun Cities to The Villages, 58–62, 90, 97; Orli Berman, “USC Leonard Davis School Honors the Legacy of Ross Cortese,” USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, 29 Mar. 2018, https://gero.usc.edu/2018/03/29/usc-leonard-davis-school-honors-the-legacy-of-ross-cortese (accessed 3 Aug. 2020).
Charles Warren Callister, various notebooks, folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
On the neighborhood unit, see notes 8 and 9, above. On Stein, see Kristen Larsen, Community Architect: The Life and Vision of Clarence S. Stein (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2016), 14.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, notes on “Future of the Cities Planning New Communities 4 April, 1974,” folder II.19, EDA CWCC.
Callister, notebooks, page headed “H/V Nov. 22 1966 items of consideration.”
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, notes on Lewis Mumford’s The Culture of Cities (1938), ca. 1947, folder I.4, EDA CWCC; Kenneth Fox, “Sociology Applied to Planning: Robert K. Merton and the Columbia-Lavanburg Housing Study,” Journal of Planning History 19, no. 4 (Nov. 2020), 282–84, 303; Talen, “Sense of Community and Neighborhood Form,” 1365; Judith Tannenbaum, “The Neighborhood: A Socio Psychological Analysis,” Land Economics 24, no. 4 (Nov. 1948), 358–69; Leon Festinger, Stanley Schachter, and Kurt Back, Social Pressures in Informal Groups: A Study of Human Factors in Housing (1950; repr., Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1963), chap. 3.
Callister, quoted in Adams, “Would I Be Happy in a Retirement Village?,” 6.
Mumford, “For Older People,” 192.
Melvin M. Webber, “Order in Diversity: Community without Propinquity,” in Cities and Space: The Future of Urban Land, ed. Lowdon Wingo Jr. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1963), 22–54.
Adelin Linton, “Lakeview Pioneers,” Heritage Villager, special anniversary issue, 1966–69, 15 Nov. 1969, 4, folder III.71, EDA CWCC.
Far West Surveys, “A Report on the Rossmoor Community, Walnut Creek, California, Prepared for Terra California,” Sept. 1968, bound photocopy, 1–3, folder IV.46, EDA CWCC.
Far West Surveys, 19–20; Field Research Corporation, “A Study of Public Attitudes and Behaviors toward Rossmoor Adult Community, Conducted for Terra California October 1967–January 1970,” 69, folder IV.47, EDA CWCC.
Steve Straehley, “The Villages: America’s Fastest-Growing Hometown,” The Villages Daily Sun, 18 Apr. 2019, https://www.thevillagesdailysun.com/growth/the-villages-america-s-fastest-growing-hometown/article_b37c1a38-61e5-11e9-8b03-1f747abb1212.html (accessed 1 Aug. 2020).
“Intro to The Villages,” The Villages website, https://www.thevillages.com/about-us (accessed 28 Aug. 2020).
Hunt et al., “Retirement Community Phenomenon,” 5; W. Edward Folts and Kenneth B. Muir, “Housing for Older Adults: New Lessons from the Past,” Research on Aging 24, no. 1 (Jan. 2002), 15; Anne P. Glass and Jane Skinner, “Retirement Communities: We Know What They Are … or Do We?,” Journal of Housing for the Elderly 27, nos. 1–2 (2013), 68–75; Simon Biggs, Miriam Bernard, Paul Kingston, and Hilary Nettleton, “Lifestyles of Belief: Narrative and Culture in a Retirement Community,” Ageing and Society 20, no. 6 (Nov. 2000), 659, 669; Denise Cloutier-Fisher and Jennifer Harvey, “Home beyond the House: Experiences of Place in an Evolving Retirement Community,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 29, no. 2 (June 2009), 250.
Charles Warren Callister, notebooks, various pages, folder I.4, EDA CWCC.
Far West Surveys, “Report on the Rossmoor Community,” 10–11, 16; Stout, interview by author; Terra California/Terra America, The Full-Life Adult Community, promotional book, 1970, 17–20, 54–55, Environmental Design Library, University of California, Berkeley; Mason, History of Housing in the U.S., 173; Roberta Schmidt (53-B), “North Pond’s Peculiar Charm,” Heritage Villager, special anniversary issue 1966–69, 15 Nov. 1969, 5, folder III.71, EDA CWCC; Nilda Rego, “Exploring World That Was and Is Rossmoor,” East Bay Times, 17 Feb. 2008, https://www.eastbaytimes.com (accessed 5 July 2021); Tyler, “Heritage Village”; Betty Smith, “Dr. Welthy Fisher, 94, Has Lit Many Candles as Literacy Missionary,” Bridgeport Post, 14 Oct. 1973, D1; Ed Bernstein, “Ex-engineer Identified as Spy Commits Suicide, Officials Say,” Hartford Courant, 1 Mar. 1976, 1.
Callister, notebooks, notes on “Future of the Cities Planning New Communities April 4, 1974.”
Ellis B. Baker, “Proud of Hill Place,” Heritage Villager, special anniversary issue 1966–69, 15 Nov. 1969, 4, folder III.71, EDA CWCC.