Photos by Asia Morris. Marina Tower Model Apartment, Killingsworth, Brady & Smith, 1959.
On Saturday, the University Art Museum (UAM) at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) showcased nine mid-20th century modern architectural gems in Long Beach, featuring the work of architects Hugh Davies, Edward Killingsworth, Cliff May, Richard Neutra and more.
It was a nine-stop tour organized by the UAM to raise funds in support of its upcoming exhibition, Frank Bros.: The Store That Modernized Modern, on view Saturday, January 28, 2017 through Sunday, April 16.
The exhibition celebrates the legacy of Long Beach’s once-iconic modern furniture retailer Frank Bros. Furniture, which was, at the time, “the primary US source for the most coveted mid-century design at the height of the modernist era,” known for selling Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Van Keppel Green, Bruno Mathsson, Paul McCobb and Knoll products among others, according to the museum.
The Moore House, Richard Neutra, 1953.
The Frank Bros. were also a major part of Arts & Architecture magazine’s Case Study Houses project, where almost half of the 30-plus homes’ interiors were designed by them, “helping define a modernism that was quintessentially Southern California,” according to the UAM.
“[He believed] that everybody deserved good design,” Ron’s daughter, Marni Good, told the Post, looking back at how her father catered to customers who could afford, say, an original Eames and also those who couldn’t.
“Many customers chose the original if they could afford it, but Frank was happy if someone on a schoolteacher’s salary, for instance, chose the less expensive knock-off,” read the Los Angeles Times’ obituary of the forward-thinking local.
Nancy Frank posing for a portrait at The Seeley House, Edward Killingsworth, 1953.
Nancy Frank, who was married to Ron for just shy of 55 years before he passed away in 2015 at 84, fondly described how the two met. There was no question that Nancy’s observance of fellow enthusiastic tour goers, there to appreciate the architecture and design the Frank Bros. so progressively promoted, sparked within her feelings of nostalgia.
“He added a lot to the furniture industry because of his knowledge and his enthusiasm and his honesty,” Nancy told the Post. “And it was a great group of people who were developing that kind of art form at that time.”
Cliff May Rancho, 1953.
Among the homes featured on the tour were two designed by Cliff May, known by many as the “father of the American Modern ranch house,” according to the UAM. He designed modern residences to answer the postwar housing demand, creating a neighborhood of 700 homes inhabited early-on by faculty of what was then Long Beach State College, now CSULB.
The work of Edward Killingsworth, a Long Beach-based Case Study architect and former campus master planner for CSULB, was also featured on the tour. The Seeley House was one of the architect’s earliest residential designs, according to the UAM.
The Seeley House, Edward Killingsworth, 1953
For more information on Frank Bros.: The Store That Modernized Modern, visit the UAM’s website here.
The UAM is located at 1250 Bellflower Boulevard.