The Oklahoma Modernism Weekend Mod Home Tour, Part 2
text and photos by Lynne Rostochil
Our recap of the Mod Home Tour continues with a newly completed stunner by local builder Gary Randolph — how beautiful is this amazing abode juxtaposed with a classic Caddy in the driveway?
Located in the ’50s-era Zachary Taylor neighborhood, which was developed soon after Bishop McGuinness High School was completed in 1950, most of the homes are modest one story brick bungalows. The neighborhood once surrounded the Zachary Taylor school, which was designed by Conner & Pojezny. The school closed in the ‘70s and a 4.3 acre park was created in 2001 on the site.
For some reason, one large lot in the neighborhood that backs up to the Deep Fork River was never developed. Gary and Trish Randolph bought the large lot and built their contemporary home in 2015 and this house immediately caused such a stir in the Okie Mod Squad Facebook group that we just had to include it on the tour. The roomy abode contains many of the best elements of mid-century modern design, including open, light-filled spaces and easy breezy indoor-outdoor living.
Here are plans of the home that Gary so thoughtfully designed:
While Gary took care of the layout and plans of the home, Trish masterfully designed and decorated all of the interior spaces:
If you are looking to build a modern home or add on to one (like my husband and I did), Gary is your man!
Our next tour stop just happens to be one of the best examples of mid-century modern residential architecture in all of OKC, the delicious Miskovsky House.
This flagstone delight was designed in 1956 by R. Duane Conner for lawyer, state senator, and mover-and-shaker extraordinaire, George Miskovsky:
Miskovsky was quite a character and his life story would make for some fascinating reading, that’s for sure, and it’s one we plan to cover in a future Mod Blog. As for this house in Nichols Hills, the story goes that Miskovsky was reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, and perhaps because he found a kindred spirit in the brilliant and uncompromising Howard Roark, the senator decided that he wanted a modern house in the same vein as the fictional architect’s work. The nearby First Christian Church was then under construction, and he liked what he saw, so he hired Conner to design his personal piece of The Fountainhead. After living in the home for just a few years, I guess that Miskovsky’s fantasy waned and he was more of the “second hand” traditionalist that Rand mocked in her groundbreaking novel because he and his family moved into a castle — complete with turret — down the street and remained there for decades. Here’s a tax assessor photo of that house:
Very pretty but not nearly as cool as the home he left behind.
Two owners lived in the home over the next five decades. By the time Jason and Crystal Emerson bought the house in 2010, it was in need of serious restoration and repair after years of unfortunate renovations and deferred maintenance. A year-long and very loving remodel by Bill Gumerson & Associates brought back to gleaming life one of the most beautiful mid-century modern spaces in the Metro. Our tour started with owner Jason explaining the history of the home and the work that he and Crystal did to bring it back to life:
Then, we toured the common spaces that include a very cozy and inviting conversation pit…
… bordered by a staircase that leads to the mezzanine reading room…
… that overlooks the giant rectangular living room:
Sheer perfection, isn’t it? Here’s the view of these fun spaces from the living room so you can see how beautifully the room works to create intimacy within such a large expanse.
The rest of the living room takes full advantage of its size with huge windows grounded by a giant flagstone fireplace:
Jason told us that, when they were remodeling the house, he asked if they should replace the 60 year old windows. He was told that it would cost as much money to replace the mammouth, steel-encased windows as it would to build a new house; besides, all but one was in great shape and didn’t need replacing. So, the Emersons took care of the one bad window and all of the rest remain original and good for another 60 years, we hope.
Speaking of windows, how amazing is this dining room with very fun vintage wallpaper from Ketch and views in three directions?
And take a look at the completely remodeled kitchen:
Outside is just as impressive. The Emersons cut down dozens of long overgrown trees and unattended bamboo to open up the yard and create a large space for their children to play. In addition, they expanded the walkway to the pool and restored the cabana:
At one point, this space was a derelict putting green, but now it’s a whimsical oasis off of the master suite:
What a lovely space … just like the rest of this beautiful home!
From ’50s flagstone fun, we hopped on the bus and headed north to The Greens neighborhood to see the House of Good Taste:
The Greens neighborhood was established in 1964 as Rolling Hills and was the brainchild of developer Stanley Brown. He was looking to design a completely different type of neighborhood, where private, park-like community spaces would be shared by a small number of homeowners. The prototype was comprised of 10 acres of land with 28 homes surrounding a four acre park that included a community pool and clubhouse, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a playground.
Brown also planned two 18-hole golf courses in the development, but only one would be built (it opened in 1971).
Brown wanted to build a modern spec house that would complement his ideas for a new community, and he thought that Edward Durrell Stone’s “House of Good Taste” that was then featured as the “modern” example of residential architecture at the New York World’s Fair perfectly fit the bill. The home Stone designed was planned for urban living where houses could be in close proximity outside but be open and private inside. Here’s a photo of a magazine article featuring Stone’s creation:
Tour goers were enthralled with all of the documentation about the design:
Stone’s design was such a hit that he sold plans for $1,000 to people interested in having their own House of Good Taste. Stanley Brown was one of those people, and he created a modified version of the home as the first house in his forward thinking new development in 1964. (As far as anyone knows, this is the only house that was actually constructed based on Stone’s plans.) The home was the star on that year’s Parade of Homes tour and people lined up around the corner to catch a glimpse of this innovative design — over 56,000 people walked through the home, slightly more than the number of people we had in our little tour group!
In 2014, Mike and Lindsey Deatsch purchased the well-cared-for home and gave it a loving update that certainly qualifies it as design magazine material:
Off of every room is a private courtyard — this is the main courtyard off of the kitchen overlooking the park:
Our last stop of the day was another new construction house, this time in the hopping Plaza District. Most of the homes in the area are a hodge podge of traditional designs from the early 1900s through the late 1940s (the Plaza Theater and shops in the heart of the district were constructed in the 1930s). With the mix of styles, a new and completely modern home that was built on a long vacant lot seems to fit right in:
When Robert Finney and Shawn Fitzgerald decided to build their home, they opted to go mod all the way. The result is a house that pays obvious homage to mid-century architecture while remaining solidly grounded in the 21st century. Large, open rooms are great for entertaining, while great expanses of glass provide plenty of opportunities for indoor-outdoor living. Oh and there’s a conversation pit — yeah!!
The car is the same as the one in the driveway and was Robert’s dad’s first car. Local photographer, Mod Squadder, and all around good guy, Isaac Harper, took the image that dominates the conversation pit wall. Love it!
Here’s Robert telling us all about the history of this u-shaped beauty of a house:
The house wraps around an internal courtyard that is dominated by a pool and lounge area:
The open living, kitchen, and dining areas make the home feel light and airy and oh so spacious:
Robert is an owner of everyone’s favorite solid surface shop, Countertops by Tom, so all of the surfaces in the house are beyond great:
As an extra treat, Robert and Shawn shared plans of the original two-story design that they greatly modified to create the space they wanted. Another huge bonus was getting to see the Founders Tower model that was donated to the Mod Squad a couple of years ago. It has been in the very capable hands of our pal and paper master, Brent Alexander, who has cleaned it up and made it strong enough to last another 50 years:
And that’s it for the Okie Mod Squad’s first-ever Mod Home Tour. We owe a huge thanks to all of the homeowners who graciously let us tour their incredible spaces, to the guests who were so enthusiastic about each and every stop, to Jim Jordan for providing the very comfy bus (we loved our driver, Joe, too), and to everyone who was involved in planning this highly successful final event of the Oklahoma Modernism Weekend.
We will be doing it again soon!