Mid-century modern homes are time capsules

Homeowners embrace their homes of big windows, pink brick and tile, family backyards

SAN ANTONIO – Driving the serpentine streets of Shearer Hills/Ridgeview is like looking through a retro lens.

“I was flabbergasted. I was like, ‘Wow, look at all these beautiful mid-century modern homes,’” said Andrea Duarte, recalling the time she was making the move from a big city apartment to San Antonio. “It had that very California, whimsical feel.”

She and her husband, Jeph Duarte, bought their mid-mod gem 10 years ago. It was love at the carport door.

“The realtor brought us to the carport door, and I put my hands on that island and I literally saw, okay, my kids watching Saturday morning cartoons and I’m making pancakes,” Jeph Duarte said.

The late-50s ranch-style still has its original front door, terrazzo tile floors, interior brick and light fixtures. They are treasures in a 2,200-square-foot time capsule.

“All the windows are still original,” Andrea Duarte said.

Andrea and Jeph Duarte gave KSAT a tour of their home in Shearer Hills-Ridgeview. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

The stretch of back windows reveals a large backyard, perfect for a tree swing. The front windows are clerestory style, above eye level.

“You can have some privacy, but when you sit on the couch, you get all that nature coming in and you get to see trees,” she said.

Andrea and Jeph Duarte gave KSAT a tour of their home in Shearer Hills-Ridgeview. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Most of the homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when Eisenhower was president and Elvis and McDonald’s were new to the scene.

It was post-World War II and history laid the foundation for the neighborhood and the style of homes, according to architect Rick Lewis.

“People had money,” Lewis said. “For the first time, a lot of people came back from the war, used the GI Bill, got an education and started businesses. By the 1960s, they were up and running and successful. And so their home really was their castle.”

They were mid-century modern castles with design simplicity influenced by European architects who fled Nazi Germany, Lewis explained.

What are you likely to find in mid-century modern homes?

“Lots of glass,” Lewis said.

Indeed, many of the homes in Shearer Hills and Ridgeview still have their oversized picture windows and ground-to-roof expanses of glass.

Other hallmarks of these single-story houses are low-sloped roofs, clean horizontal lines, bold angles, carports, and big backyards for family and home entertaining.

“These houses spoke of living a very different way, a much more casual way that was somewhat nostalgic,” Lewis said.

That sense of nostalgia resonates with many of today’s home buyers.

“People say, ‘Oh, it reminds me of going to grandma’s,’” realtor Eduardo Magaloni said. “There is an appreciation for that.”

Touring the inside of a Shearer Hills home Magaloni has listed is like a peak into the past.

The roomy kitchen still has its signature blue tile and original cupboards, complete with a grease trap. The bathroom has a vintage chandelier, 1950s pink tile and a chrome wall cubby that hides the toothbrushes.

A home for sale in the Shearer Hills-Ridgeview has a retro bathroom, fit with 1950s pink tile and a vintage chandelier. (Copyright 2024 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

And, there was something else unexpected: the maid’s quarters.

“In Shearer Hills, quite a few houses have the maid’s quarters,” Magaloni said.

Times have changed. Now the neighborhood is fondly reminiscent of old TV sitcoms. Think “Dick Van Dyke” or “The Brady Bunch”.

“Our daughter is watching ‘Bewitched’ right now,” Andrea Duarte laughed.

For the Duartes, it’s a neighborhood that feels just right.

“It has some age to it, which feels comforting,” Jeph Duarte said. “It just feels a little more like home.”

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About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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