During the past several years, I have written about a number of the two dozen Charles Goodman-designed Alcoa Care-free Homes that were built around the country, including the one in Richmond (pictured above) and the one in Miami. I just came across this piece by a woman who grew up in the Care-free home near Columbus, Ohio. Her bosses at Ohio Magazine asked her to write the piece when she interned at the magazine in 1992. She even includes images from inside the house in the late 1970s.
Here’s her lead for the piece, “Back to the Future”:
“It was the residential equivalent of a ’57 Cadillac — sleek, high-powered, brash and thoroughly American,” Eden Casteel wrote. “The first ‘Alcoa Care-Free Home,’ the Aluminum Company of America’s pioneer housing design, was built in 1957 near Lafayette, Indiana. It was a 1,900-sq.-ft. advertisement for aluminum building materials. There was aluminum in the sky-blue anodized roof, in the heavy gold-hued front door, in the textured iridescent purple siding, and in the Spanish-style grilles over the floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, there were more Space Age attractions: a wall-hung refrigerator, a trim galley kitchen with interior walls that could be moved to create a different floor plan, toilet tanks hiding behind pastel-tiled bathroom walls, and linoleum squares that bordered the carpeting in each room. The walls of the living room and three identically sized bedrooms were finished in brushed aluminum paneling, intermixed with vinyl and cherry panels.”
While the author’s parents may not have hewed closely to Goodman’s original mid-century modern design in some of the changes they made, the article provides first-hand insight into how people actually lived in one of these rare homes. Goodman’s design made the cover of Better Homes and Gardens in October 1957 when the magazine had a circulation of more than 4 million.
Here’s another cool piece of Care-free history. Late last year, I bought this daybed at an auction selling many items from Charles Goodman’s estate. The piece was featured on page eight of the Care-free brochure.