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In January 1957 the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) announced the formation of a “Residential Building Products Sales Division” to facilitate expansion into new uses for aluminum in home-building. U.S. Steel similarly explored modern home architecture in California’s famous Case Study House Program. To jump-start sales in this new division, Alcoa announced they would be sponsoring the construction of 50 “Care-Free” aluminum model homes priced under $25,000. The company’s stated aim was to create a lower maintenance home and achieve the “greatest change in residential building materials in centuries.”
Alcoa hired east-coast architect Charles M. Goodman to design the “Care-Free” home; the standard model was post and beam construction with 1,900 square feet of living space, including 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The design integrated 7,500 lbs of colorful aluminum details throughout the house, including large aluminum framed windows and its signature purple siding and blue window grilles.
By the end of 1957, approximately 24 of the Alcoa “Care-Free” homes were completed across the US. Unfortunately for Alcoa, they never made it to the planned 50 model homes; U.S. Steel’s house program met a similar fate, and as with U.S. Steel, the final cost of these aluminum homes was much higher than anticipated, nearly twice as much.
Still, these beautiful homes make excellent examples of the future-oriented, innovative approaches to home development sought in the post-world-war years. For modernists, they are fetching eye candy.
A Resurrected Classic Alcoa Care-Free Home
Steven Plouffe and Michael Linsner have kept the original purple color on the outside of their Alcoa Care-free Home by Charles Goodman near Rochester, NY. Designed by architect Charles Goodman, it was built in 1957 by Fred P. DeBlase.
Alcoa Presents “Care-Free Home”
The Original “Care-Free Home”
Care-Free Home Architect, Charles M. Goodman
Additional Information and Sources:
The complete Alcoa Care-Free Home sales brochure can be seen here
For The Better Homes and Gardens article on the Alcoa homes click here
More photos by the current owners of the Brighton, NY home can be seen here
Follow the St. Louis Park home renovations on Our Care-Free Home
For a St Louis Park Historical Society article on the Alcoa aluminum house click here
For images and information on another Alcoa home located in Perrysburg, OH click here
For various old newspaper articles about the Alcoa Care-Free project click here
For more on architect Charles M Goodman click here and here
For the Charles M Goodman Flickr group click here