SoCal Eichler tracts designated as historic district to help preserve the homes’ signature style

Orange leaders have committed to preserving the city’s
collection of Eichler homes with new rules and guidelines to
protect the mid-century modern style.

The Orange City Council recently designated three Eichler tracts
as a historic district, akin to Old Towne Orange. Those tracts
consist of more than 300 homes, many built in the early 1960s. The
residents have advocated for the designation for
more than a decade.

“It’s a quantum leap forward,” Douglas Wade, an Eichler
homeowner, said in making sure the homes known for their open-air
atriums and floor-to-ceiling windows keep their beloved style .
Wade has been a member of the advisory committee helping the city
develop the standards for the district.

  • Art Ellsworth walks through the atrium of his Eichler home in
    Orange, where he’s lived with his wife Ann since 1969. Eichler
    homes are known for being particularly visually striking both
    inside and outside. Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31,
    2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Art and Ann Ellsworth inside their Eichler home in Orange, where
    they’ve lived since 1969. Eichler homes are known for being
    particularly visually striking both inside and outside.
    Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo by
    Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Art and Ann Ellsworth inside their Eichler home in Orange, where
    they’ve lived since 1969. Eichler homes are known for being
    particularly visually striking both inside and outside.
    Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo by
    Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Art Ellsworth walks through the atrium of his Eichler home in
    Orange, where he’s lived with his wife Ann since 1969. Eichler
    homes are known for being particularly visually striking both
    inside and outside. Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31,
    2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A butcher block-toped cabinet in Art and Ann Ellsworth’s
    Eichler home in Orange, where they’ve lived since 1969. Eichler
    homes are known for being particularly visually striking both
    inside and outside. Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31,
    2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ann Ellsworth walks through the backyard at their Eichler home
    in Orange, where they’ve lived since 1969. Eichler homes are
    known for being particularly visually striking both inside and
    outside. Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31, 2017.
    (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Ann Ellsworth walks stands in her kitchen, largely all original,
    at their Eichler home in Orange where they’ve lived since 1969.
    Eichler homes are known for being particularly visually striking
    both inside and outside. Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday,
    March 31, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County
    Register/SCNG)

  • Art and Ann Ellsworth’s Eichler home in Orange is mostly still
    original. They’ve lived there since 1969. Eichler homes are known
    for being particularly visually striking both inside and outside.
    Photographed in Orange, CA on Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo by
    Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Robert Imboden, Eichler homeowner, stands in the kitchen of his
    home in Orange. Eichler homes are known for being particularly
    visually striking both inside and outside. Photographed in Orange,
    CA on Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange
    County Register/SCNG)

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Post-war developer Joseph Eichler built the homes to be stylish,
yet affordable housing for the growing middle class. The homes are
noticeable for their geometric shapes with flat and low-sloping
A-framed roofs and their general feeling of openness.

The standards focus on retaining those distinct features.

But, Eichler owner Anna Marzolino expressed concern the
guidelines are too lengthy for homeowners to understand and could
unnecessarily increase the cost of future home repairs and
improvements.

“How in the world does someone even remotely know what you
have to bring to (the city) for approval?” she said about the
more than 100-page document.

Wade said much of the standards are recommendations on how the
homeowners can repair and renovate their homes while preserving the
historic aesthetics.

For instance, applying high-quality clear film to the homes’
original single-pane glass is recommended to improve the safety and
energy efficiency.

“It’s not preservation for the sake of preservation,” Wade
said of the standards.

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The rules will only apply when homeowners want to modify their
homes, Orange’s historic preservation planner Marissa Moshier
said. Existing homes are not required to make any changes.

Much of the discussion on the rules revolved around whether to
allow the addition of two-story structures. Some residents had said
the taller structures would invade their privacy, given the
homes’ expansive rear windows.

The City Council ultimately approved allowing the additions in a
limited circumstance, subject to evaluation by the city’s Design
Review Committee.

The historic district designation also allows the homeowners to
apply for a Mills Act
contract
, which provides a property tax deduction for
rehabilitating and preserving their homes.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
SoCal Eichler tracts designated as historic district to help preserve the homes’ signature style