Billie Silvey
House
In 1926, MGM built a Spanish-style bungalow near its Culver City
studio to be the home of a wardrobe mistress.  The bright, sunny
house featured a large picture window, French doors, and a Mayan
patterned fireplace.

The house was later owned by two generations of the Heckman
family.  Then, in early 1995, we moved in, first renting, and later
buying the house.  It was the first house we’d owned after 35
years of renting in Southern California.

In the 1920’s, as families became smaller and less able to afford
servants, bungalows were popular.  Simpler, smaller and built on a
single level, they could be easily maintained without help.  The parlor
and other formal entertainment areas evolved into a living room
shared by families and guests.  The formal garden designed for
maximum beauty in a single season gave way to a more natural, year-
round garden style.

We love the Spanish style, with its stucco walls, parapets, arches,
and red tile roof.  The roomy porch is welcoming, as are the bay
windows in the breakfast nook.  Southern California, with its mission
heritage and moderate weather, is the ideal for a flow of
indoor/outdoor living.

The simple Spanish-style bungalow developed from the
Arts and
Crafts movement in England as a reaction to the heavily ornamented
Victorian style.  In America, however, democracy won out over
craftsmanship as furniture, even architecture, were mass-produced,
putting home ownership within reach of working people.  In 1901
Frank Lloyd Wright justified the emphasis in a speech given at Hull
House called “The Art and Craft of the Machine.�

Furniture is the most important American contribution to the arts and
crafts movement.  Often called “mission-style,â€� either from the
philosophy of the movement or from the furniture designs of the
Franciscian missions, it’s a natural complement to the house.

The first piece of furniture most people notice when they enter our
house is the baby grand piano built in the nineteen teens by Hallet,
Davis & Company of Boston.  However, the most important piece
to me is a secretary desk my dad made in a high school
woodworking class in the 20's.  It fits its surroundings perfectly--
solid and sturdy and handcrafted. A Tiffany reproduction lamp with
an orange leaf design in leaded glass sits on the desk.

The era and location of the house prompted other articles in this
month's website, including
The Roaring 20's, This Old House, and
Fitzgerald, Thalberg, and The Last Tycoon.

Check out Lindy Adams's great
review of my book God's Child in
the City
in the November issue of Christian Chronicle.

I’d love to hear from you in response to the website.  I hope
you’ll suggest topics that you’re interested in and let me
know if the site is helpful to you.  This is my website, but I believe in
sharing.  You can reach me at
b.silvey@sbcglobal.net.
The Roaring 20's
This Old House
Fitzgerald & Thalberg
November 2005
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