On the Market: The Light and Bright Coronado Rebel

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

By the late 1950s, residential development was going strong all over town and one of the fastest growing neighborhoods was Coronado Heights, developed by James W. Reedy, R.W. Arnold, and Roger Brawley.  The three envisioned a charming neighborhood comprised of over 500 homes with different architectural styles, which would be capped off by a giant 15-acre shopping center with underground parking for over 700 cars at the intersection of Portland and NW Expressway.  I don’t know why, but the shopping center was never built and the site is now home to the Messiah Lutheran Church, various eateries, and two office buildings.

Early ads for Coronado Heights boasted “luxurious suburban living without the high costs … high on a hill overlooking Oklahoma City and Lake Hefner.”

With 16 different builders on board, homes of varying sizes and styles began sprouting up and ranged in price from $12,000 to $20,000 ($114,000 to $190,000 today).  By the end of 1955, the first section with 157 homes was completed and other sections of the neighborhood were rapidly being developed.  The fourth and final section of Coronado Heights began construction in 1958, and architect R. Duane Conner, who designed the First Christian Church, was hired to design a modern home in the neighborhood, which was given the sassy moniker, “the Coronado Rebel.”

This was Conner’s second design in the neighborhood — the first was completed in 1957 and was a Parade of Homes entry.  Like Conner’s earlier creation, this home on NW 62nd was on the Parade of Homes tour and enticed prospective buyers to the nearly completed Coronado Heights.  One couple who may have wandered around the “Coronado Rebel” was Gene and Pat Dillehay.  He was a radio/TV executive who worked at nearly every station in town during his long career in Oklahoma City, and she was a former ballerina who enjoyed a brief Hollywood career dancing in such musicals as “Road to Bali” and “The Merry Widow”.  This dynamic and obviously very artistic pair were looking for something different than the typical cookie cutter home that dotted nearly every street in Coronado Heights, and they found it in the “Coronado Rebel”.  They had their own version of the home constructed on NW 61st with some minor changes, which included the garage facing the street.

The Dillehay family loved their home on NW 61st so much that they remained here until 2010.  And now this amazing home is on the market and awaiting a new owner to adore and take care of it like its previous owners have.  It’s such a great house that potential buyers will be as in love with the flexible, open design as the Dillehays were when they first toured the “Coronado Rebel” so many years ago.

First, let’s take a look at the front of the house with that great garage with mod clerestory windows running across the top:

That’s just a sneak peek of all of the jaw dropping surprises that await inside.  Through that fantastic aqua front door, you enter into the dining room or formal living room or whatever room you want this space to be:

The great thing about this 3 bed/2.5 bath house is that it’s so flexible — each room can easily function in any way you need it to.  The current owners are using this ample space as their dining room, and I think I’d want to spend long hours camped out at that dining room table enjoying how the light changes in this space throughout the day.  There are windows and natural light coming in from almost every angle, including the clerestory windows running along the east side of the room to the opening at the top of the 3/4 wall to the right…

… to the huge wall of windows facing the front of the house:

Oh and did you see that incredible wood panelled ceiling?  It runs all through the house, and I just can’t say enough about how its honey color warms up every room and makes you feel cozy and protected inside.  I really love it so much!

To the right of the front door is a coat closet and the door to the two-car garage:

Off of the dining room is a large living room with another bank of clerestory windows and a wall of windows looking onto the backyard.

What a perfect space!

The day I toured the home was very gray and dingy, but you certainly can’t tell that from all of the light flooding this room.  And did you notice the two-sided fireplace and built-ins?

The storage in this house is so well thought out and abundant — there are little nooks and crannies of shelves almost everywhere.  Looking from the wall of clerestory windows in this room, you can see the compact but perfectly laid out kitchen and bedroom wing:

Um, yeah, did you notice the clerestory windows running along the bedroom wall?  How cool is that?

I’ve seen these in several of the homes Conner designed — they are one of his trademarks.  They also made an appearance at the Morris House we profiled in Wildewood Hills last year.

We’ll look more at those glorious windows in a minute.  First, let’s check out the kitchen:

Like I said, it’s not huge, but it’s perfectly laid out and has quite a bit of space.  The current owners remodeled the kitchen in a way that fits in perfectly with the rest of the house:

Yeah, more clerestory windows!!  Love, love, love!

The capper to this great kitchen is the vintage fridge that is staying with the home … it is so quiet and works perfectly and I’m really going to be so jealous of the new owner who gets to keep this baby:

No cheap plastic here!

As if this home doesn’t already pack a big wow, check out the three bedrooms, all of which have the clerestory windows to let in natural light.  Bedroom #1 doesn’t even have a window to the outdoors, but it doesn’t need it because the clerestory lets in plenty of light from the living room.  It’s a great and very well thought out space that I imagine was originally used as an office since built-ins run along the back wall:

What a sweet space.  The second bedroom is about the same size:

The door to the left leads into what was once Pat Dillehay’s sewing room:

It’s a HUGE room that is now used for storage but could be converted in to a big master suite, an office, or whatever you need it to be.

The second bedroom has a little transom into the hallway:

Speaking of the hallway, with all of the light wafting in from the clerestory windows, it is not the dark and sad throw away space most long halls in homes can be.  Instead, it is as bright as the rest of the house and is capped by a wall of honey-colored wood cabinets that perfect match the ceiling that runs throughout the house:

The third bedroom is the master, and it’s not too shabby at all:

This is a nice, big room that is the perfect retreat after a long day, and I love how windows dominate the entire west wall of the space.  Along the east wall is a bank of closets…

… with an entry to the master bathroom, which is surprisingly nice sized for a house of this vintage.  Pink alert!

Back down the hall is a very sweet yellow second bathroom:

And let’s take one more look at those amazing windows that run along the hallway:

Such an innovative design feature!

From the living room, turn to the right and there’s another great surprise.  In addition to being a TV/radio personality, Gene Dillehay was an accomplished artist and photographer and had his work shown all over town.  In the late 1980s, he added a pretty fantastic studio to the house.  Just go up the stairs to the right…

… and enter a room with wall-to-wall windows and wonderful light everywhere:

What a space!  There’s even a half bath upstairs so you can enjoy this room for hours and never leave:

And did you notice the storage everywhere in this room?  The wall of closets?  The sliding doors on the wall to the stairwell?  The incredible built-in bookshelves?  I’d run out of stuff long before I could ever fill up all of the cabinets and shelves in this home.

Back downstairs is a charming enclosed porch…

… that leads to a nice sized patio and backyard:

The yard wraps around the addition to reveal a big storage shed and even more room in the backyard:

So, that’s it for the Coronado Rebel.  I hope you love this amazing home as much as I do — it’s a true gem that is full of clever surprises and mid-century mod details that need to be preserved.  The 2,557 sf home goes on the market today for a very reasonable $198,000, and you can contact realtor Kacie Kinney at Keller Williams for a showing — 760-3455.  Here’s a link to the listing.

A huge thanks to Mark Nehrenz for getting in touch with me about the house and letting me tour it before it’s available for sale.