Before the Birdhouse – Some Early Mellenthin Homes

Mellenthin 16601853129_2239f41098_oIf you know anything about San Fernando Valley real estate then you know the name William Mellenthin (1896-1979) is a magic one. One of the Valley’s pioneer developers, Mellenthin was responsible for constructing literally hundreds of homes throughout Valley (and elsewhere) from the 1930’s through the 1950’s.   Like his later contemporary Joseph Eichler, Mellenthin built homes that were a cut above the standard cookie cutter tract house, homes that were high quality in both architectural design and in the materials used therein. Mellenthin knew what features to add to make a house attractive to prospective home buyers and he became renowned for his so-called “birdhouse” additions (dovecotes, to be technical) over the garage that were a hallmark of many of his structures.  Birdhouse houses became, and remain, an almost ubiquitous sight throughout the San Fernando Valley and could, I suppose, even be called the quintessential Valley home.


20_SR13023857_11_1360954450Having a dovecote as part of a house design was hardly anything new, but it was not particularly common in modern houses of the time. Mellenthin added the feature to what would otherwise be considered a traditional ranch-style house to give it a little extra pizzazz, which it apparently did based on his success and that of his many imitators. A true Mellenthin “Birdhouse” house is a hot item in San Fernando Valley real estate, particularly if one can be found in near original condition, which is quite rare. Mellenthin is so pervasive it is amusing to see “Mellenthin style” or “Mellenthin inspired” terms popping up in real estate ads for any house in the Valley with a dovecote or even just some birds sitting on the roof.


Although he was described in several 1930’s news articles as a “wealthy architect,” I haven’t been able to determine if Mellenthin was formally trained/certified in that profession. In fact, my sense is he probably wasn’t. In 1935, it was stated that he was celebrating his fifteenth year as a builder, but city, census and other records have his profession through the 1920’s as being a bond salesman. I wonder if Mellenthin dabbled in home building as a side job until the Great Depression put an end to his days as a bond dealer. That same Depression, however, should have also put an end to any ambitions as a home builder for the duration, but I find it fascinating that Mellenthin’s building success began and grew right out of the depths of the economic disaster that was putting an end to the careers of so many other architects/developers. Whether he was a “wealthy architect” or not, he assuredly must have been wealthy at least to some degree as he had the capital to invest at a time when many others didn’t. Mellenthin was able to use the downturn to his advantage and was able to buy land and materials cheaply and hire the best workmen to construct his homes.

CA Modern 1

Note how BIG Mellenthin’s name is and how small Leo F. Bachman’s, the actual architect’s, name is.

I’m also intrigued, and would love to get the answer from one of our wise Paradise Leased readers, as to whether or not the famous Mellenthin Birdhouse houses were in fact actually designed by Mellenthin himself or if he utilized the services of an obviously unsung in-house architect at the William Mellenthin Co.  Mellenthin was clearly very good at public relations and somewhere along the way the actual architect may have been lost in the shuffle. A perfect example of this are the early Mellenthin homes. There were more than 100 of them, but buried in the details is the fact they were designed by Leo F. Bachman, a competent Los Angeles designer of the period. This information should in no way mitigate the important contribution Mellenthin made to Valley development, but likewise Bachman should be given credit where credit is due on his designs, which were interesting and fairly diverse. As you will see by the below examples, the homes were generally done in what was touted at the time as “modern” California Monterey, but he got a Colonial in there as well. And…nary a birdhouse in sight. That must have been his bosses idea! So without further ado, please enjoy a sampling of pre-Birdhouse Mellenthins from 1936.

THE BARKER BROS. BUDGET HOME. 1936                                                          12018 Laurel Terrace Drive, North Hollywood

Barker Bros. 1

(Mott Studios)

Mellenthin partnered up with the venerable Barker Bros. Department Store to create 1936’s “Budget House” as both a showcase for Mellenthin’s budget friendly home designs and Barker Bros. budget friendly furnishings.

Is the small home hard to furnish, difficult to make interesting and individual on a limited budget? Not at all, when regard for design, color and proportion are used in its planning, say decorators of Barker Brothers’ Hollywood who have just completed the interior decoration of a distinctive model home at 12018 Laurel Terrace Drive in San Fernando Valley.

Barker Bros. 3

(Mott Studios)

A generously sized living room is furnished in maple, with much modern comfort apparent. The color scheme comprises browns, yellow and white with tomato red for accent notes. There are off-white walls, deep brown broadloom floor covering and white Venetian blinds.

Barker Bros. 2

(Mott Studios)

A small dining-room is equally distinctive.

Barker Bros. 4

The house itself is of modern colonial style, and interior furnishings have been planned to carry out the feeling of simple informality expressed in the architecture.

This model home is attracting crowds of interested visitors daily.

12018 LT

(Google Earth)

NEILL DAVIS RESIDENCE. 1933                                                                                    2172 Moreno Drive, Moreno Highlands

Davis 1

(Mott Studios)

Although he was known for his San Fernando Valley homes, Mellenthin built houses throughout the Los Angeles area. Here is an example of one his larger and earlier homes, built for Neill Davis, State Secretary of the Building-Loan League in Silverlake. I find the design of this hillside home particularly pleasing with its L-shape creating a nice courtyard nestled into the hillside with big outdoor fireplace and other rustic elements. The second-floor Monterey balconies on both sides of the house are noteworthy.

Davis 2

2172 Moreno

Oh no! They muddled it. What have they done to the balconies? (Google Earth)

HOWARD E. HENSEL RESIDENCE. 1934                                                                12255 Laurel Terrace Drive, North Hollywood

Hensel 1

(Mott Studios)

For the Hensel house, Bachman discarded California precedents for a Williamsburg Colonial example. A modest little home of just two bedrooms and one bath made larger in appearance by its steeply pitched roof. Note how Bachman raised the roof, if you will, higher for the central core. This little charmer was built for the credit manager of the Lyon Van and Storage Company.

Hensel 2

12255 LT

(Google Earth)

MARY REEVES HUNTER RESIDENCE. 1934                                                          12304 Hillslope Street, North Hollywood

Hunter 1

(Mott Studios)

Here Bachman returned to the early California ranch house precedents with board and batten walls and wide terraces opening off either side of the living room. Notice how every single principal room of the house has access to a terrace.

Hunter 2

12304 Hillslope

(Google Earth)

JOHN J. KIELY RESIDENCE. 1935                                                                                6116 Fulton Avenue, North Hollywood

Kiely 1


One of the larger Mellenthin properties, the Kiely house was built on 2.8 acres, which was landscaped in citrus trees and other lush plantings. The estate included a 20×40 swimming pool with high and low diving boards, dressing rooms and showers. There was also a three room guest house as well as complete equestrian facilities including 5 box stalls and a corral. During the late 1930’s, the estate was home to popular radio star Kenny Baker.

Kiely 2


Kiely 3


Kiely 4


In 1965, the estate was demolished to make way for the 43-unit Fulton Chateau apartments.

6116 Fulton

(Google Earth)

THOMAS F. O’BRIEN RESIDENCE. 1935                                                                  12040 Laurel Terrace Drive, North Hollywood

O'Brien 1

(Mott Studios)

The O’Brien Residence was built for Deputy District Attorney Thomas F. O’Brien in 1935. The most notable feature of the O’Brien Residence is its interesting double fireplace separating the living room and sun room. Guest bedroom seems to be a very busy place, but it’s nice to have one.

O'Brien 2

12040 LT

(Google Earth)

As you can see by the current Google image, something strange has happened to the O’Brien house. It looks as if a section of the house was chopped off, a garage put up and a driveway added to another property. Guess is that O’Brien subdivided his property and cut off a section of his own home to do it. It might have been rebuilt altogether as city records show a 1941 completion date.

FLORENCE PAULSON RESIDENCE. 1934                                                                 3725 Mound View Avenue, North Hollywood

Paulson 1

(Mott Studios)

Another California Ranch, the Paulson house was part of a group of Bachman-designed and Mellenthin-built homes on Mound View. For a small, two-bedroom house, Bachman still managed to include two terraces and by stretching the house out, gave it the illusion of larger size. I think the way Bachman laid out the floor plan of this house was well done with a nice separation of public/private spaces.

Paulson 2

3725 Mound View

(Google Earth)

And for those of you keeping score at home I thought you’d enjoy a list of Mellenthin/Bachman homes from the 1933-1936 period. Unless otherwise noted, addresses are all North Hollywood (Studio City, Valley Village, etc.) And where possible I’ve added date of construction and original client. Do you have a Mellenthin original?

11923 Addison Street (1935) – Grace Mottram

505 South Arden Boulevard, L.A. (1936 Remodel of 1921 House) – Edward Sears, Jr.

4836 Ben Avenue – Pete E.F. Burns

4905 Ben Avenue (Alt. 12009 Huston) (1936) – C.A. Balch

4957 Ben Avenue (1935) – Louis Laughlin

4961 Ben Avenue (1935) – John Swallow

5119 Bluebell Avenue (Demolished) – Jack West

10717 Bluffside Avenue (Demolished) – Gertrude Michael

4516 Densmore Street, Encino (Demolished) – Ernest Pagano

4147 Dixie Canyon Drive (1934) – T.M. Bell

4147 Faculty Avenue, Lakewood Village (1935) – Melvin Diebele

4251 Faculty Avenue, Lakewood Village (1935) – Roy V. Schwab

4616 Fulton Avenue, Monterey Village (Demolished) – Southwest Development Corp.

4942 Gentry Street (1935) – C.B. Warren

4830 Gloria Street, Encino (Demolished) – Reeves Dutton

12003 Hartsook Street, Laurelhurst (1936) – Francis King

12038 Hartsook Street, Laurelhurst (1936) – Virginia Michael

12220 Hillslope Street (1936) – Frank Figgins

12241 Hillslope Street (1935) – Edward Churchill

12127 (12125) Holly Glen Place (1936) – Charlotte Harriss

12138 Holly Glen Place (1936) – Milton C. Brittain

11853 Kling Street (Demolished) – Chalmers O. Stout

475 La Mirada Avenue, San Marino (1936) – John Pierce

5601 Laurel Canyon Boulevard (Demolished) – Ward Groshong

12055 Laurel Terrace Drive (1934) – J.D. Farquhar

12145 Laurel Terrace Drive (1935) – Isadore Gross

12180 Laurel Terrace Drive (1935) – H. Anderson

12305 Laurel Terrace Drive (1934) – W.P. Esrey

12382 (12384) Laurel Terrace Drive (1934) – John McKeon

11902 Magnolia Boulevard (Demolished) – Sun Record Home Beautiful

644 South Mariposa Street, Burbank (1935) – William A. Godsoe

12113 Maxwellton Road (1935) – Alice Greenfield

3743 Mound View Avenue (1934) – Arthur N. Watson

3774 Mound View Avenue (1935) – R.H. Pearsall

3781 Mound View Avenue (1935) – Ira Rohland

3804 Mound View Avenue (Demolished) – Robert Fellows

3822 Mound View Avenue (1935) – Ralph Everson

11856 Otsego Street, Laurelhurst (1936) – Robert W. Stanhope

11941 Otsego Street, Laurelhurst (1936) – Sam Bevis

12039 Otsego Street, Laurelhurst (1936) – Roy Culverwell

11915 Riverside Drive (Demolished) – John Ewing

12940 Riverside Drive, Monterey Village (Demolished) – Helen White

16325 San Fernando Mission Boulevard, San Fernando (Demolished) – Judge Oda Faulconer

4053 Shady Glade Avenue (Demolished) – Helen L. White

4147 Shady Glade Avenue (1932) – Roy Atwell

3145 Silverado Drive, Moreno Highlands (1936) – O.W. Dickens

6253 Simpson Street (1935) – J.A. Ernst

14310 Valley Heart Drive, Van Nuys (Demolished) – Floyd L. Knudtson

2150 Valley Oak Drive, Hollywood – A.B. Hess

5667 Valley Oak Drive, Hollywood (1936) – Walter Ward

4727 Van Noord Street, Monterey Village (Demolished) – Southwest Development Corp.

12108 Viewcrest Road (1935) – Frederick H. Starr

12123 Viewcrest Road (1934) – C. Duncan Hutton

12152 Viewcrest Road (1935) – Carl L. Sutton

12205 Viewcrest Road (1936) – Clifford R. Gard

12230 Viewcrest Road (Demolished) – Kolia Levienne

12301 Viewcrest Road (1935) – Joseph LaShelle

1200 Viscano Street, Glendale (1926) – E.F. Franklin

10503 Whipple Street, Toluca Lake (Demolished) – Roy H. Henry

7223 Woodman Avenue, Van Nuys (Demolished) – John J. Schmitz

7218 Yarmouth Avenue, Encino (1935) – Virda Mann

Penprose 1

(Mott Studios)

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65 Responses to Before the Birdhouse – Some Early Mellenthin Homes

  1. Steven says:

    Does anyone know how really small a 9″x 10″ foot room is? it’s really, really, small. I grew up in house full of 9’x9′ rooms and you couldn’t swing a cat. These homes look “sprawling” on paper but they would be difficult to deal with with on day to day basis, which is why so many were razed.

    • Angie Ryan says:

      My parents worked with Mellentine in 1949 on building our home on 13054 Hartsook Street. They moved in the house in 1950 when it was complete. Most of the homes around us were Mellentine’s. I remember that Mr Mellentine lived up the street on Ethel when I was a little girl. My sister and I grew up in that house. Many great BBQ’s and Birthday partys in that little house. Sadly my parents did pass in that house. My sister now owns the house and lives there. The kitchen and baths have never been redone. My parents installed central air in 1969 and had all the heat and air ducts also done. Of course they did the shag carpeting in the whole house at the same time (updates).? My sister has removed all the carpet and will repair and sand the beautiful wood floors. I remember my mom telling me she had to pick windows and she did a lovely bay window in the front of the house with diamond shaped glass (still there). The house is about 1400 sq ft and 2 bedrooms and 1 and 3/4 bath. The backyard is about 1/4 acre and has a very long shaped lot with the garage in the backyard. The most wonderful thing is my sister still had the blue prints of the house. Thanks to my mother keeping them in a desk all these years. Not surprising because she had also kept my 1959 Barbie Doll for me! We also had two walnut trees in the yard. One was in the front yard and one in the backyard. The front yard walnut tree was the first to go in the late 1960’s. Then the back yard walnut tree died in the late 1990’s. The whole area was a walnut grove in the early days of the valley before Mellentine subdivided it. Most all the houses had large walnut trees in their yards in the 1950 and 1960’s. Some neighbors put in pools, so the walnut trees were lost. The house has green and yellow tile in the kitchen and original maple cabinets and pink tile in the main bathroom. A brick fireplace in the front living room and used brick fireplace in the small back den. I remember my mom telling me that someone from Happy Days wanted to use our house to film? She said NO so I really don’t know what that was all about? All in all it was a great little house. Yes, I said little!

      • My parents bought a Mellenthin home in Sherman Oaks on Atoll ave off of Riverside Drive. We too had 2 walnut trees, one in front and one in the back on a raised area. I have great memories of growing up there as it seemed that everyone moved in about the same time so as a small kid, I grew up with many other children on the block. I only wish I could see what our house looks like now.

      • John says:

        This builder being discussed one this website is named William Melenthin…not Melentine. Are you sure you’re talking about the same person?

      • John says:


  2. Mary Mallory says:

    Thanks, Steve, for the wonderful and informative story on the North Hollywood “bird houses!” These little gems are so beautiful and homey, unlike the ugly hodgepodges taking their places now. Thank you for documenting a forgotten part of the North Hollywood/SFV history.

  3. lahope says:

    Some of these houses are perfect for the increasing number of singles that are buying now and neither want nor need humongous houses.

    • Steven says:

      I wasn’t talking humongous, just saying nothing like a 12’x12′ room! I remember the days of banging my shins on my bed frame, and permanent black and blue ankles and trying to cram 14 around a dining room table in a 9’x10′ dining room. I remember the Thanksgiving when my oh so proper, butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth grandmother came for dinner and my Mom ask to pass the rolls and I tossed her one; Right passed Nana’s nose. It was easier than trying to pass the plate!

  4. Gloria says:

    I too, grew up in a SFV home located in Panorama City. It was SO tiny compared to what they build today. 3 bdrm/1bath/detach garage. 5 kids and 2 parents. My pop would always blow out the pilot light in the summer (to save money) on the gas floor furnaces. When cold weather arrived, he would put on his Lockheed issue ‘coveralls’ and re-light it from below the house with a long piece of wire that held a lit match. That was an art of ingenuity to me. Loved the sidewalks, the hardwood flooring and our burgundy/grey bathroom tiles. Need a time machine…

  5. David de Wind says:

    I think I own a Mellenthin. How can I verify this? It has a bird house over the garage.

  6. helene says:

    This is so wonderful to find. I think i grew up in a Mellenthin on Nagle Avenue. Neighbors had bird houses, but not mine. Small yes, but lots of old homes were. I loved the ceiling in my bedroom. It had a slope following the roof pitch about 3 feet from front of house. Now that i think about it, the garage was on other side of wall so i don’t know why that slope would be there. Much better built that my current 1990 built home.

    • julia schr says:

      I grew up at 5857. also no bird house. but the general plan that you describe. so sad to think about it now. Memories. I can see on line the extra bricks my dad put on the front entrance, and some of the 5 plants still there.
      which house were you in, you can see them on google

  7. Howard Sheldon says:

    In the late 1950’s we would go house hunting and these homes were always the goal. I remember going through the models and just drooling. I was 14 at the time.

  8. Larry says:

    First off. Most people didn’t make as much money back in the day. We built small because it was all we could afford. We had a lot of kids, and to be frugal and save was what we did. This was before the pill and when TV only had 7 channels. We were grown ups and we new the kids would be out of the house someday. So we planned accordingly. People would never have thought to overspend the way we do now on cars, clothes, Mcmansions and the garbage we eat. Most people rent storage facilities for all the material things they own and cant fit in their garage or closets anymore (pretty sad).The people that had these built were modest, and embraced the middle class lifestyle. This was life before adolescence ongoing into adulthood., obesity, diabetes, processed food, tattoos, ear gauges, piercings, jail fashion, and affluenza had taken a hold on the majority. Back then the only circus freaks you saw were at the circus. lol It was about keeping up appearances for the whole. Mellenthin arranged his rooms to seem larger through views and cross ventilation to keep the houses cool in the summer and energy costs down. Yes, people really did think about those things. Sure the past was indifferent to other races, and people smoked, and drank too much. It was acceptable to be a moron. Men and women’s roles were set in stone, and its no wonder things had to change. But the one thing they did right, was to live and raise a family modestly, with piece of mind, debt free, in a timeless thought out character home. PS They also had better fashion sense.

  9. mfischler says:

    I’m the original owner (family home to be exact) and still living in a 1955 Mellenthin home in Van Nuys. Lots of its features match the photos (the brick fireplace especially). It’s on a street where all the other homes are near identical in layout etc., but they’re knockoffs: no dovecote.

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  11. keith wagner says:

    dad had house built for mom at 5724 stansbury ave. mom always said it was a mellenthin house and could be identified by the bay window on the fromt bedroom. one of the floor plans displayed here is exactly the floor plan or our house. deed to dad is dated may 1939. curious how to find out if it is actually a mellenthin house.

    • Steve says:

      OK, it only took 2 years, but it does not appear that the house was a Mellenthin. The original permits list the builder as Robert Wagoner and the contractor as Ralph M. Auck.

  12. Leslie Diller Zollo says:

    First- thanks so much for the info and photos- just lovely. I wasn’t sure my house was definitely
    a Mellenthin until I found the permit to build- and Mellenthin’s name was listed as builder. Our
    house doesn’t have the birdhouse, but has many of the usual features, which are so wonderfully
    conducive to our daily life. Lots of light, great flow pattern, easy living. 1950, North Hollywood

  13. dressvintage says:

    This is a wonderful post – so thoughtfully done. I have a question, do you have any more information about the home at 5119 Bluebell Avenue demolished by Jack West. He was the husband of a costume designer, Vera West, who committed suicide under suspicious conditions in the swimming pool at the house. I am doing research on her and would love any information. Thank you!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the note. I hadn’t heard of this story before. It sounds fascinating. The only thing I saw, which I am sure you’ve already seen, are a few articles in the LA Times at the time of her death. Not much info and a lot of unanswered questions. It sounds so interesting I hope you’ll let me know when your project comes out. I’d love to read it!

  14. Cindy says:

    Hi Steve!
    I’m wondering if I do have a Mellinthin Birdhouse! I live at 12804 Hatteras St, Valley Village, 91607. Would love to know more!
    PS – thanks for this wonderul article!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Cindy: Sorry for the delay in reply but I’ve been away from the blog for a while. The best way to find out is to try and get a copy of the original building permit from the Records Department of Building and Safety Department for the City of L.A. Their main office is downtown and they have a branch in Van Nuys. They have counter service so you can go and request copies in person. Last time I went it was still $1.50 a page. The building permit will usually always have the name of the contractor. Hope that helps!

      • Steve says:

        Hi Cindy:
        A recent search of the records indicates it was a Monarch Construction-built house, not a Mellenthin.

  15. Marilyn Belcher says:

    We are helping our busy daughter move into her new (1952) home. I think it may be a Mellenthin home. Can you verify or how could I do that for her? Her address is 5848 Costello Ave., Van Nuys (or Valley Glen) 91401? Thank you, Mom

    • Steve says:

      Hi Marilyn: Sorry for the delay in reply but I’ve been away from the blog for a while. The best way to find out is to try and get a copy of the original building permit from the Records Department of Building and Safety Department for the City of L.A. Their main office is downtown and they have a branch in Van Nuys. They have counter service so you can go and request copies in person. Last time I went it was still $1.50 a page. The building permit will usually always have the name of the contractor. Hope that helps!

    • Steve says:

      Unfortunately, it’s not but it is an original Ranchito Estates-built tract house, engineered by well-known L.A. engineer W.G. Chandler and built by George J. Heltzer. The original cost of construction was $12,150.

      • Joan Thompson says:

        Yes! George Heltzer built a number of homes in small tracts of available space in the Ranchito Estates area — many where the remains of walnut groves existed. Most of us had at least one walnut tree. Most have died now.

        We are South of Oxnard, North of Burbank, East of Hazeltine and West of Woodman. I have a Heltzer house from ’52 and Heltzer was known to build good houses back then. He also built a few in the West Valley around the late fifties. Our house here in 5700 block of Costello was $18,500 — was a ‘model’ home, and though built in ’52 was not finished until ’53 and my family has been the first and only occupant(s). Some of the Heltzer houses looked a little like Mellenthin with mock bird-houses but other features that differed told the tale — NOT Mellenthin.

    • Joan Thompson says:

      Your daughter’s house is not a Mellenthin house but it’s a GREAT house all the same and I’m sure Heltzer was the builder.. Nothing to sneeze at — he was a respected builder.

      I looked at it when it was up for sale before your daughter bought it — I love it. I live down the street just two blocks and grew up right here — returning in ’06 after some 30 years elsewhere.

      When I was a little kid we moved from Chicago to L.A. — ’53. My two grandfathers happened to be visiting L.A. at the time; one was an architect and the other a home-builder in Chicago. They both checked out the Heltzer house and told my parents to ‘buy it’ — ‘good quality’ here! All of these houses have survived several quakes with little more than cosmetic issues and a few damaged chimneys, if that.

  16. Angela says:

    I live at 5249 Lemp Ave. in Valley Village in a 1949/50 Mellenthin. When we moved here, we pulled the original occupancy permit from the city, which showed Wm. Mellenthin’s name, but it’s been difficult to find information on these houses. The house was built in 1949 but signed off on in 1950. Thank you so much for all the great information!

  17. Steve says:

    I enjoyed looking at the pictures of Mellenthin homes in the valley. My father worked for Bill Mellenthin in the late 1940’s or early 50’s and became a general contractor. I remember him telling me that the architect who started the “bird house look” had a last name of Bird or Byrd. My father became good friends with Bill Mellenthin Jr. who also built houses and apartment buildings in the valley.

  18. now I can recognize Mellenthin type homes in the valley when i see them. thank you for sharing. I’ve seen a few in the Sherman Oaks area. 🙂

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  20. Dave Dale says:

    It should also be pointed out that in the 30s and into the early fifties, many men were skilled craftsmen and carpenters, plasterers, stone masons did beautiful work. This was before our culture looked down on skilled tradesmen, and shop classes disappeared almost completely . The houses built today are larger but much lower in quality. They are basically cardboard and plastic ugly snap together pre fab crap, and they match the kids raised in them. Men used to lead their families, and kids behaved. Today, the kids don’t have the discipline to learn a skilled trade, they all want to work in entertainment or financial services, something that is fun and easy but produces nothing lasting like a beautiful house.
    The future is going to be much, much worse. Housing is already out of reach for most, so unless you are very rich your kids will suffer , sharing ugly prefab housing in some far off desert community like Hemit or Lancaster, as they salivate over pictures of houses their grandparents had that they could never build, afford , maintain or most of all deserve. I HATE to sound negative, but these are the unfortunate facts.

  21. Suzanne Gormley Schlicher says:

    I was just told this morning that FRANK HICKMAN was the architect who designed the Mellinthin Bird houses. My 94 year old mother told me. Franks wife Lynn Hickman just past away a few days ago at 93 years old. Frank Hickman died in the 1960’s. Our families met around 1950 My mother and Lynn remind close friends throughout the years. This past Sunday my husband drove me by a house being remodeled and told me about the builder Mellinthin who built the signatures bird houses on the garage. Then this morning talking about Lynn’s passing my mom mentions to me, you know Frank Hickman was the architect who designed the houses that had the bird houses on the garages. The Hickman family owned and lived in an apartment building on Dickens Street in Sherman Oaks. Lynn and Frank have two daughters my age. I will have to Find out more.

  22. Melisa Haggai says:

    I believe we live in a Mellenhi home tract.
    They consist of homes starting on Calahan St. West of Havenhurst both sides of the street, homes on Dearborn Ave. South side of Dearborn between Havenhurst and Rubio St. and several homes on Rubio St going North/South between Dearborn and Tupper St.

    I have always been curious about our home builder. This was a very informative article. I just wish it had more information on our area.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Melissa: Your suspicions are correct. You are living in Mellenthin land!

    • Melisa Haggai says:

      Thanks Steve!! Realtors call this neighborhood “Walnut Cove”. I’m so proud we live in a Mellinthin Home! I’ve lived here since 1971 and my parents were the 3rd owners-hubs and I are now the 4th owners. We’ve added another bedroom and bathroom on and added a huge patio because what was originally there didn’t really equal a patio cover. Do you think we’ve ruined Mellinthin’s work?

  23. Violet says:

    I own a 1955 original on the 12200 block of Hartsook. Mine really does look like a birdhouse and has the diamond windows and two bird feeder thingys over the garage. A contractor wanted to knock it down and build a big house, but I love the home, and its charms. I’ve repainted and have done an interior remodel but kept the layout and the exterior intact.

  24. Violet says:

    As a follow up to my earlier post, of course I have the red brick corner fireplace, too. A fancy designer told me it was gaudy and suggested I tile over it, but I kept it in its original condition.

  25. John Clark says:

    We moved into a Mellenthin home in 1950. I was a year old. I think we lived at 4844 Atoll Ave. I wish I could see the house now.

    • You can look at the exterior on google maps. Just copy and paste the address into google search, then select their map option. You can look at it from the street as well as from above. If looking from above be sure to select “satellite” image. It is a very cute house.
      Best of luck.

  26. John Clark says:

    As the post by Angie said, we too had a couple of walnut trees front and back yard. I remember we had a 2 tiered back yard near the garage. Great memories growing up.

  27. We lived in a Mellentine home on Atoll ave in Sherman Oaks from 1951 to 1957. Great neighborhood to grow up in. Wish I could buy our house back now.

  28. aitchcs says:

    Amazing research here! I love these beautiful vintage homes with character.
    In my own research I’m looking for folks who lived in Sherman Oaks/Studio City– specifically the area of the Ventura Blvd. and Coldwater Cyn. intersection, during the 1950s early 60s. And are willing to speak or correspond with me!
    Thank you!

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  31. Margie Beeson says:

    Would love to know if our house is a Mellentine home. How would we find out?
    It has the typical birdhouse on the garage. Was built in 1961.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Margie:

      Unfortunately, it’s not looking so. It appears to have been built by the original owners William M. & Betty Lou Boxwell. They list themselves as the contractors. They must have been inspired by Mellenthin!

  32. Alice cotti says:

    Hi, Steve. I live at 4532 Longridge Ave in Sherman oaks between moorpark and riverside and Fulton and Coldwater so I am just south of hidden woods. I think I live in a mellethin house that must have been remodeled. The layout looks Iike many here -porch with front door that opens to big living room-2 bedrooms off the right with a bath sandwiched in between. Bifold foods that shit off the hallways to those bedrooms. That same narrow red brick fireplace that is two sided. In the small dining room off to the left there appears to have been two corner built in hutches that were removed–you can tell from the patching that was done to the oak hardwood floors. The living room has a high pitched ceiling with exposed beams. There are diamond pane windows in the living room and dining room, and casement windows in the family room. The family room has paneling that has been painted over and it appears to have been added on/enlarged in the 60’s when a master bedroom and 1/2 bath were also added on, and there were some odd windows that look like they may have been to some sort of service porch. No bird house on the garage though. It was built in 1937 though so I am not sure the timeframe is correct. We bought in 1998 and I think we are the 3rd owners. Does this sound like it may have been built by mellenthin? I think the original address listed on the deed was van nutys or north Hollywood but we are 91423 Sherman oaks–2 blocks away is studio city. thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Alice: It’s not a Mellenthin but it is a house built by George A. Thatcher who was a major builder in SFV in the 1930s. He’s a very interesting guy and I suggest you google his name. You’ll find his obit from 2007. I tried to copy it here for you but my computer isn’t having it. Sounds like you have a great house on a great street of many famous people/homes. Thanks! Steve

      • Alice cotti says:

        Thanks so much for this research, Steve. Apologies for odd typos in my original post! I believe I meant to type ” bifold doors that shut off the hallway.” 🙂

  33. Barbara Rosing Hoke says:

    Hi there…I live in a Mellenthin house at 6022 Sunnyslope Ave., Van Nuys (or Valley Glen)…I grew up across the street (6021) and have pictures of my house being built in 1956 or 1957. I purchased my house in 1986 and absolutely love the interior and exterior. I saw a posting on Nextdoor Sunnyslope Square that there was a book, perhaps, about our very special homes…are you aware of this? This article is amazing and I would love to find out more.

  34. Sandamal Silva says:

    I believe I live in an 1957 Mellenthin Home at XXXX in Panorama City (once a part of Van Nuys). I bought it from the original owners who have done very few modifications. Lot’s of original details still remain…2-way fireplace, dovescotes over garage, stone entry floor, wood kitchen with hammered brass hardware. It’s almost a times capsule. How does one verify if it’s a Mellenthin?

    • Steve says:

      Bad news is it’s not a Mellenthin but the good news is it was designed by the talented mid-century architect Emery Kanarik. He did a lot of interesting houses, apartments and commercial structures in SC. If you google him you’ll see some of his work. In fact, he did the houses around you and was designer for the whole development. Sounds like a great house!

      • Sam Balance says:

        After googling, I saw that Kanarik designed The Polynesian in Hollywood. Any other interesting residences or buildings he designed that a google search would not reveal?

      • Steve says:

        Here are some: He did a number of large-scale tract developments in the SFV in the 1950s including yours:

        Kimberly Woods Condos @ 15021 Sherman Way, VN
        Harratt Towers, 9040 Harratt St, WH
        Victory Office Building, 12444 Victory Blvd, NH
        1607 N. Harvard, LA
        1819-1823 N. Kenmore, Hollywood
        1812 N. Gramercy, Hollywood
        Harry Stein Residence, 5531 W. Green Oak Drive, Hollywood
        Beechwood Manor development (100 houses) 44063 Beech Avenue, Lancaster
        North Hollywood Terrace, 13018 Victory Blvd., NH
        Park-Manchester Apartments, 461 West 87th St. LA
        Firestone Homes developments:
        (1) North of Saticoy & Bellaire (i.e. 7601 Bluebell Avenue)
        (2) Noble & Mayall (i.e. 10032 Noble Avenue)
        (3) Corbin & Parthenia (i.e. 8552 Corbin Avenue)
        La Cienega Homes Development located between Laurel Canyon/Bleeker/Rinaldi & San San Fernando
        Woodman Park Development – Woodman @ Mayall (144 homes)
        Roscoe Park Development – Roscoe & Haskell (80 homes)

  35. Don D. Paul says:

    I see a posting from someone at 6022 Sunnyslope Ave who lives in a Mellenthin home. I have a friend who lives at 6669 Sunnyslope, and from the photos it looks also like a Mellenthin. Could he have developed that block? From Zillow, there is a house at 6622 that is noted as a Mellenthin. I’d like to inform my friend that her home could be one and to inquire. Thanks.

    • Steve says:

      Unfortunately it’s not a Mellenthin. It as built by the Watt Construction Co., a Mellenthin contemporary and rival. Watt was a major builder throughout the SFV from post WW2 into the 60s and did very good work.

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  37. Ronald Shore says:

    Hi. The O’Brien House is at 12036 Laurel Terrace, not 12040. It fronts on Mound View Ave. I think the lot may have been divided with 12040 having been the back part of the property. Unfortunately I went past the O’Brien House recently and there is a Notice of Demolition in the window. It’s a shame to see an early Mellenthin like this be torn down. I have always admired it when I have driven by. I live in a 1957 Mellenthin in Valley Glen.

  38. aitchcs says:

    I’m researching a family who lived (for a while) at 4243 Mammoth Ave. Sherman Oaks. It’s a triplex built in 1940 and is listed with Mellenthin as contractor and Bachman as architect. Still there, still a triplex but the real estate records don’t mention it’s a Mellenthin/Bachman. I happen to find the original building record online.
    Nice surprise!

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