The Ralph Haver Archive

Town and Country Homes

Town and Country Manor aka Rancho Ventura aka Town and Country 1 | 1956

41st Place and McDowell

Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
The first Town and Country style mass-produced tract home was designed by Ralph Haver AIA and built by Fred Woodworth in 1956. The neighborhood is situated between Phoenix and South Scottsdale near the McDowell Road Miracle Mile area that extends from Central Phoenix out toward its sister city.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Marketed as "the home with a future", this modest experiment set the blueprint for all Town and Country homes to follow. A high window-wall in the living room with a fourth window for the master bathroom, geometric guest gate, a large covered patio-port intended for either car or outdoor living, a picture window looking out onto the patio-port, U-shaped kitchen, small bedrooms, terrazzo shower basin, built-in closets and low-sloped roofline with deep overhangs were all attractive features for families relocating from cities where housing was cramped and old-fashioned. Models started at 1505 square feet for 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and sold for $12,500 – $15,700. In 2020 the homes are valued about $340,000, making them an approachable investment for a first-time Haver homeowner. Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
The area has an active neighborhood association and is an attractive destination for prospective homeowners seeking unaltered Haver homes. Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Only a few homes have been changed in ways that might exclude them from historic designation, primarily through enclosure of the open patio-port or other alterations intended to increase square footage.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
If original, the poured concrete patio-port should feature the same egg-crate grille pattern as the redwood trellis above it. Many of these trellises have rotten away or been replaced with regular roofing, as shown here. Because Town and Country Manor is the first prototype in a series of successful tracts designed by a Master of Architecture in Arizona Ralph Haver, and Scottsdale has already succeeded in their nomination, Modern Phoenix recommends that the neighborhood organize, survey, and seek the tax benefits of becoming a Historic District in the City of Phoenix.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Some of the challenges of living in such a glassy home include privacy and security. Several homeowners have partially frost-filmed their front window bay to allow light but give more privacy without the clutter of window treatments. When standing up close, they can still keep eyes on the street.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
The Phoenix that Haver was designing for was about 10 degrees cooler than the Phoenix we live in today. With their lacy leaves that drop in the winter, Palo Verde trees provide permeable sculpture that blocks summer sun yet lets in oblique light and heat during winter months when we most need it.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Shade-screening the patio-port posts and the trellis above is also an option, as shown here. Observe the difference in the shadow cast from the shade-screened trellis on the patio-port.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Original kitchens are increasingly hard to come by. These vintage birch kitchen cupboards were salvaged from a neighbor who was gutting theirs, and reinstalled in another home.The woman's fashion in this vintage ad can only be described as risqué in comparison to the tailored and buttoned-up dress of typical women in 1956, and contrasts greatly with the old-fashioned iron stove as further motivation to modernize not only appliances but the homes themselves. "Modern living" with all the comforts of electric appliances and touch controls were huge selling points.

A "newly developed range" that "cooks by microwave" was an built-in feature offered for the kitchen. We have yet to see one of these fabled microwave ovens. Let us know if we can come photograph it!Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Part of the charm of the Town and Country neighborhoods is how it weaves a delicate balance between similarity and irregularity. Varied elevations, materials, texture, paint colors, landscaping, and occasional inclusion of chimneys help break up the monotony.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Clinker brick is one of the rare and rustic wainscoting treatments that we believe was first deployed on a mass scale here in Phoenix with the Town and Country Homes. Clinker bricks are clay bricks that have been malformed in the kiln firing process. While they are impractical to build with, Ralph Haver liked to feature them as jewel inclusions. The eclecticism and sloppiness shown here isn't poor craftsmanship, it's deliberately rustic craft.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Homeowners should take care to not paint clinker brick facades, as it can be difficult to remove without damaging the surface texture. Some clinkers posess a moody iridescence that's difficult to recover once blasted. Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
This facade has been media blasted using copper slag with a higher degree of success than others. Some paint still remains in some of the wire cut brick crannies, but the effect is not terribly noticeable once a little distance is achieved. Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Homeowners have a few options when it comes to adding extra square footage or enclosing the carport. Because there is a precedent for such an elevation, mostly used for side-entry patio-ports, keeping the position of the geometric gate and continuing an opaque wall or gate at the same height of the wainscoting is preferred.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
Where possible, maintain the height of the wainscoting when adding patio-port gates. This home receives an exceptional amount of headlights shining into it, as it perpendicular to one of the main entry arteries into the neighborhood — so the extra few inches in height is understandable, as are the safety reflectors on the olive tree. Next time you visit, observe how compatibly it connects with its neighbor in maintaining a horizontal flowline.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
This homeowner has kept the patio part of the patio-port and then enclosed what would normally be used for parking. The continuation of the soldier-stacked block at the same height and single eave-hugging window is a clever way to add extra space.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
This fence on the left has the same setback as the home's facade, yet it honors the same height as the brick wainscoting, creating a compatible geometry and flow. Phoenix building code allows six feet, depending on the setback. Fences of lower height allow eyes on the street when necessary but also still afford privacy toward the back of the lot.The treatment on this patio-port's enclosure is still a mystery. Haver did frequently use breezeblock with this pattern, just typically not so high up. The way the circle motif from the guest gate is mimicked in the breezeblock is notably clever.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
If it can be helped, filling the window bay with opaque exterior materials is not recommended. However, observe how the newer patio-port gate maintains a compatible height, helping preserve some integrity.Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
When the patio-port must be enclosed, maintaining the wainscoting materials, leaving the gate in place, and repeating the window motif helps tie the alterations together. Landscaping helps; the break in slope angle is deftly hidden behind a palm.

The reduction in angle helps solve the problem of headspace when a patio-port is enclosed. The patio-port can function without the extra height, as it is for occasional use only and does not have insulation or ceiling treatment further crowding the height. Enclosed livable space, however, will likely require some more headroom. Town and Country Manor by Ralph Haver in Phoenix
While this home's patio-port has been filled in, there's still a setback that behind the guest gate that creates a void which appears more compatible than filling the entire volume in. This alteration also aptly illustrates the problems of extending any addition all the way out to the the patio-port's eave: as the ceiling slopes down the headspace becomes more and more unusable. This explains the need for a sudden bump back up that can be observed in the back portion of the home.

Varied window sizes at multiple heights also make the side elevation of this large addition a little choppy, with few unifying motifs or flowlines. A horizontal planter running the full length of this elevation with some showy red blooms would help tie it all together.

If you're not sure how to restore your Town and Country home, connect with us at Modern Phoenix. We've seen hundreds of them by now — and can help you make smart decisions about what to keep, what to restore, and what to let go. We're rooting for you as you continue to innovate and improve in your historically significant neighborhoods! Photos ©2019, 2020 Modern Phoenix LLC, Leland Gebhardt, Photo Perigo

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