We wish we could walk up to every midcentury modern home we pass on the street and get a tour complete with notes on the architect, designer, and history. But alas, knocking on random homeowner’s doors and asking to come in is not often well received. In fact, many of the mid-century modern homes in existence today are privately owned and not open to the public. And of course, there are plenty of famous homes that are not currently open to the public for tours.
Still, if you’re dying to get to know some of the most talked about midcentury modern homes, we’ve scoured the country to find the best ones to tour and really get to know. If you’re looking for a wonderful end of summer road trip idea, we’ve rounded up several of our favorites into this four part series.
Southwest (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada)
The southwestern section of the United States has plenty of great mid-century modern homes to offer. Here are a few of the best choices you can tour and see for yourself.
Eugene O’Neill House in Danville, CA (1937)
The Tao House is the home of the only Nobel Prize-winning playwright from the United States, Eugene O’Neill. This beautiful home is one of the top destination midcentury modern homes while on a road trip in Northern California. You can enjoy the architecture, along with plenty of history, as this was the home where O’Neill wrote many of his plays including Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Iceman Cometh, and A Moon for Misbegotten.
You can tour the home and the land surrounding the home. The site is known as a National Historic Site in California and allows visitors by reservation only. After making your reservation, you will be taken from the Town of Danville, CA to the home by shuttle. You’ll enjoy a tour of the Tao House and be given time to explore the grounds.
Shindler House in West Hollywood, CA(1922)
A masterpiece of midcentury modern architecture, the Shindler House makes for one of the most interesting homes on this list. If you’re looking to enjoy one of the most brilliant representations of midcentury modern design in California, visiting the Shindler House is a must.
While the home was originally designed as an experiment in communal living and has quite a storied history, today, it is the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, L.A. While there, you’ll be able to learn about the fascinating history of the home and that of Shindler himself, along with viewing exhibitions, publications and more.
Eames House in Pacific Palisades, CA (1949)
The Eames House is another famous choice for your road trip. Also known as the Case Study House No. 8, it provides a wonderful landmark from the mid-20th century.
The home was designed by husband-and-wife Charles and Ray Eames. It became their home and studio where they lived until they both passed. On your visit, you will be able to tour the home and see the amazing design, along with gifts from friends, family, and colleagues of Charles and Ray Eames.
Neutra VDL House in Los Angeles, CA (1933)
A design by Richard Neutra, this amazing “glass house” provides a look at a mid-century modern design, unlike any other home. The rooftop and balcony gardens helped to make this home unique, along with many other features found throughout.
Today, the studio and residences are under the stewardship of the College of Environmental Design and Department of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. You can take a tour of the Neutra VDL House II on Saturdays without making an appointment. The tours last about 30 minutes and all tours are led by an architecture student ensuring a informative talk for architecture and design enthusiasts alike.
Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, CA (1917)
Designed by one of the most famous mid-century modern architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Hollyhock House was the first Los Angeles commission for the famous architect. It’s a beautiful home providing freedom and natural beauty throughout the design.
Today, the Hollyhock House is owned by the City of Los Angeles and allows guests to see the design up close with a tour. Renovated in 2015, the home is now a designated UNESCO world historical site.
You can take a self-guided tour Thursday through Sunday or a 20-minute docent-led exterior tour on the same days. They also offer a longer docent-led tour of the interior and exterior of the home on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you’re not able to make it in person, you can tour this home virtually from your desktop.
Other MCM Homes to Road Trip To in the Southwest
The midcentury modern homes listed above are just the tip of the iceberg if you want to take a road trip to southwestern United States. There are several other great midcentury modern homes you can visit, including:
- Leo Carillo Ranch in Carlsbad, CA (1937)
- Sinatra Twin Palms in Palm Springs, CA (1947)
- Elvis’ Honeymoon House in Palm Springs, CA (1960)
- Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, CA (1966)
- Clark Co. Museum Heritage Street in Henderson, NV
- Morelli House in Las Vegas, NV (1959)
- Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ (1939)
- Georgia O’Keefe Home/Studio in Abiquiu, NM (renovated in 1945)
- Stahl House in Hollywood, CA (1959)
Interested in more areas of the US? Stay tuned! This is part one of a four part midcentury modern road trip tour.