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December 1, 2009

Tuesday’s Retro Guest – 1957 Time-Capsule Camelback House

 Thanks for the great post, Sara!  I am so sorry this wasn’t the house for you, but don’t worry.  There is always another house around the corner!


As some of you may know, Mike and I have been searching for a time capsule house around the Phoenix area – but with no luck so far. It seems like a lot of the 50s/60s houses have been renovated to the hilt with granite and travertine and stainless etc, etc….. We are hoping to find a house similar to Ruth’s (but hey, who would not want a house like hers – right???) but everything has just been wrong so far. This house is one Mike and I were interested in, but we could not afford the house, and the repairs it needed too. You see, this house is in a highly desired area of downtown Phoenix that backs up to Camelback Mountain, and all of the houses are on huge lots – between 1 and 2 acres. Most all of the houses in this area were custom or semi-custom homes built in the 1950s and 1960s. What has been happening in this area, for the past 10-15 years, is all the older houses have been getting demolished and they are building new HUGE stucco mansion houses on the lots. So, essentially people are buying the older houses for the lot only and destroying the charm and character of the old neighborhood. This house was to be demoed as well, and you can see from the pics they had started with ripping out most all the floors. I looked at this house from a satellite map view and they had also ripped out every tree on the lot, you can see from the pics there is not one tree or shrub in view (the satellite map view showed tons of trees 1-2 years ago) . Anyway, the people who bought this house actually bought it for a million dollars – AS A TEAR DOWN, when the Phoenix housing market was super hot. Well, the housing market here is horrible now and the house was lost in foreclosure. The asking price was $490,000 for the house and it sold for $388,000 at the bank auction. This house was still be promoted as a tear down, even at $490,000 – in the real estate listing it said, “Huge lot with home needing some TLC or tear down and build your own dream home!” This house is a really cool house, with a lot of neat original features – but there was also so much work it needed. Namely the roof, it was wood shake shingle – AND totally original. The roof was practically falling off the house – seriously. There was also a lot of damage to all the wood on the house under the roof  – wood that was falling apart and such. There were also broken windows and other things as well. I am guessing it probably needed $100,000 of repair to make it safe and livable. So, even at $388,000  we could not have afforded the house. I just REALLY, REALLY hope whoever bought the house does not tear it down, but repairs it and saves it for the future. Hey, a girl can dream right? 🙂 This house was built in 1957 and had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and was 3200 sq. feet. It was on approx. 1.5 acres.


The house had 2 really cool fireplaces. This fireplace was in the family room area, and what is not shown in this picture is all of the really great wood paneling that was directly opposite the fireplace. It was really cool looking with cute little scallops at the top.


The other fireplace was in the front of the house, the more formal living room area, and was this really cool cut flagstone. It looks like the fireplace has NEVER been used.


The kitchen had been repainted gray and white at some point, which is such a shame because the wood was beautiful. You can see one of the cabinet doors was left open and the wood color on the inside. I LOVE that Copper color Vent-A-Hood, and the push button stove top is killer. I wonder what the original oven was?



This bathroom had the original vanity, but I am sure that is a new toilet. I think that could be a Crane Criterion sink. Yummy!


This pink bathroom is so cute. I love the pink and chrome leg sink, and you can see the house retains the cool original vent covers.


This last shot of the bedroom shows 2 more of the original vent covers in the wall. I think originally these were chrome or stainless steel, so probably all of the vents in this house were repainted at one time. I still think they are so very cool!



The Camelback house is a really great old house, I just hope it has found new owners who can appreciate it like we all can!

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14 Responses to Tuesday’s Retro Guest – 1957 Time-Capsule Camelback House

  1. Alex Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Those are exactly like my vent covers! Our AC went out this summer, and an AC guy tried to tell me that those had to go. I sent him packing and told him he had no taste. I hired someone else. It’s a shame that people don’t appreciate these homes. My sister is lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where all the homes range from the 1920’s – 60’s, and most are in original condition. Maybe you should move to S.C. 😉

  2. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

    ALEX!!!!!! That is SOOOO awesome that you have those vent covers, I love that!!! I cannot believe that idiot A/C guy told you to get new covers, thank god you gave him the boot. Hmmmmmm, maybe I should consider moving to S.C. 🙂 My cousin lived in N.C., until a year ago when a job transfer happened, and really loved it.

  3. Deb Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Ruth, I rarely write, but I read your blog everyday and love it. Likewise to Alex – she always makes me laugh (occasionally get teary-eyed) and Sara, I’m trapped in Az (I’m an Oregonian at heart, tho I was born in Tucson and am here caring for my mother following my retirement in Oregon). I’m sorry to read about the house, but my niece lives in Phx and it seems unbelievable how the prices have dropped. I know you’ll find something! Good luck.

  4. sablemable Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 11:12 am


    Great post and great house!!!!!! Love the green tile in the kitchen! I have the original heat/cooling vents in my home, too.

    Alex, LOL, you did right, girl to send the guy packing!!!!!!!!

  5. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Deb – Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it! It is really amazing how prices have dropped SOOO much – I wish this whole mess had never happened. I know we will find something eventually, it just takes time I guess. 🙂

  6. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 11:45 am


    Thanks girl! Wow, you have those vents too!!!! That is so cool that everyone has the old vent covers after all this time.

  7. Jenny Reply

    December 1, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Hey there-my name is Jenny and I am finally emerging from lurkdom! Ruth, I have been reading your blog every day for quite awhile and enjoying the heck out of it, but this post prompted me to comment! Sara-good heavens, that is quite a house, and I actually think I know where it is! You see, I live in Central Phoenix, and it kills me that people buy those old beauties and tear them down just to build a Tuscan style monstrosity. I wish it could have gone to you!

    Do I know you, by any chance? 🙂 I live near 15th Avenue and Camelback and work at Hollywood Regency Vintage in the Melrose District! Come visit me during the week and introduce yourself! And by the way-there are two darling 1955 ranches in my neighborhood for rent/sale, over on Coolidge Street.

    Ruth-sorry I hijacked this post a bit, but I just couldn’t keep quiet when I saw it! I do have to say that I LOVE your Mid Century Menu posts the best. You and Tom seem like such neat people! Keep up the marvelous blogging!

    Jenny K. in Phoenix

  8. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Jenny! I am sure you probably do know where that house is. It is in the Arcadia area right off of Camelback Road. The address is 4920, you should check it out sometime, if you are close, and see what they are up to. Fingers crossed that they are not demoing it! Most of the houses around it are HUGE 2 story horrible stucco mansions – it is so creepy. I am not totally sure if we have met before, we could have come across one another at an estate sale or 2. 🙂 I will definitely come over to Hollywood Regency to meet up with you – sounds like we have a lot in common. I have not made it down to that vintage store yet, and I have been wanting to check it out. I also will check out those homes on Coolidge, they sound totally cute! Thanks for the reply Jenny, I look forward to meeting up with you. Sara

  9. Shen Reply

    December 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    I totally agree with you! It’s very hard to find an original ranch that has not gone though a tacky “home depot” renovation! I was very lucky to find my house, it’s all original from 1952, and I am not changing a single thing to it! I have the pink bathroom, kentiles and all! The works!

    I happent o know that a house down the street from mine is for sale and is all original too, the lady (original owner) had to finally go to a nursing home.

    The address is 818 W Tuckey Lane Phoenix AZ 85013. MLS#4286958. There are lots of pics on ziprealty and realtor.com

    I hope the house will be bought by someone who can appreciate it for what it is and not do any generic, boring renovations to it!

  10. Sara in AZ Reply

    December 2, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Shen – I know, it seems like almost EVERY single 50s/60s house I look at has been reno’ed Home Deopt style! EEEKKKK!!!! I am totally jealous of your awesome house, and a pink bathroom to boot! Yippieeeeee!!!! All I can say is thank god you found that house and not someone who loves Home Depot. 😉 Thanks for the tip on the house, I will definitely check it out.

  11. Linda Blackmore Reply

    March 12, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I hate that all the cute mcm houses have gotten the Pottery Barn redo. It seems like the new houses have NO personality. They all have the same stuff. I have grown to hate it.

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  13. Jacki Reply

    May 20, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I know this is a really old post, but have you by chance kept track of this house? I am really curious to learn the fate of this one. Neat house.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      May 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Jacki – I don’t go by this house a lot, as it’s not near where I live…..but we drove by a few years ago and it looked completely modernized and I am pretty sure all the 50s stuff was gutted out. 🙁

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