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Monday, August 20, 2012

Hidden Plainfield: Plainfield's answer to Levittown ID'ed

This was the model home used to show potential buyers
what their dream house would be like.

Brisbane Estates, Plainfield's answer to Levittown.

The answer to yesterday's Hidden Plainfield is, of course, Brisbane Estates off East Seventh Street and Terrill Road.

The development was built up after the model established by William J. Levitt (see here), whose Levittown on Long Island was the first of the great postwar suburban developments. The homes were primarily bought by returning veterans who were establishing their families and whose loans were guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and the FHA.

The model home was the one on the corner of East 7th and Sterling Streets, shown above. This home was in its original state until the most recent owners updated it. I knew the original owners (they were members of my church) and the home was the bride's wedding present from the groom, a returning WWII vet.

As the suburbs began to take root, these smaller homes became known as 'starter homes' and newer waves of housing included the split levels which were one of the hallmarks of the 1960s.

Most communities had some sort of Levittown-like development. In South Plainfield you can see an example in the Geary Farms area and in North Plainfield the homes along Richard Way off Mountain Avenue.

Geary Farms in South Plainfield.

Richard Way in North Plainfield.
Those interested in the history of the suburbs will find a fascinating read in Kenneth Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier (see more here).

NOTE: One commenter notes the owner of one of the homes pictured is unhappy that her home was featured. I have been taking pictures of interesting Plainfield homes for years and have hundreds. More than a hundred have been featured in 'Hidden Plainfield'. While I often speak with the homeowners (if they are about when I am out with the camera), I do not always make contact. I have found people are proud of their homes and pleased at the thought that their home helps show Plainfield as a great community with many interesting homes. Some owners have even tracked me down after the fact to thank me for highlighting their home and neighborhood (and ask for a copy of the photo).

Where shall we go next week?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Charlie said...

Having grown up in Levittown, Long Island, I am very familiar with evolution of the architecture of the houses, from the early Cape, to the somewhat larger 1949 Ranch, and the modestly redesigned 1951 Ranch, which is what my parents bought for $500 down. Several years ago, I was driving in the Rahway-Colonia area, and was surprised to see a cluster of 1951 Ranch clones lining the side streets. As far a I know, this was not one of Levitt's later developments, which are found in Bucks County, Aberdeen/Matawan, and Willingboro, and my research has come up with nothing to explain this anomoly. Maybe a rogue builder ran off with the blueprints?