Mid-Century Modern Hammond Walking Tour

Mid-Century Modern architecture (or “Modern” architecture) is characterized by an emphasis on:

1. Form over ornament
2. Decorative exposition of building materials and structure
3. A methodical use of space. 

In new and rapidly developing post-WWII cities like Palm Springs, California the Mid-Century Modern style proliferated easily. However, in an older state like Louisiana, that same housing boom yielded a rise in suburban living, but not the same amount of high style Modern architecture. That is why the building stock of Hammond stands out among its contemporaries. The density of local Modern architecture is rare.

That density is thanks in large part to the local architect, the late John J. Desmond. Born in Denver, CO John Desmond graduated Hammond High School in 1937. He went to Southeastern before transferring to Tulane University, where he received his architecture degree. After then earning a masters at M.I.T. and working for one of the premiere Modern architecture firms in New York (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), Desmond returned to Louisiana to work for A. Hays Town in Baton Rouge.

A. Hays Town (1903 - 2005) was a prominent mid-century architect with a classical style. Desmond, more in tune with the Mid-Century Modern subtler sub-category called “New Formalism” than Town’s classical references, moved back to Hammond in 1952 to open his own architectural firm. 

Desmond’s architectural influence is still felt in the community and, due in large part to his Hammond tenure, we have a truly unique portfolio of Mid-Century Modern architecture worthy of national recognition. These structures can be spotted exposing structural elements as decoration, originating “open concept” interior design, having a low, horizontal building emphasis, and using materials that were new technology in post-WWII America - like wood paneling, concrete slab, and large sheets of glass.

What makes Desmond’s work particularly notable is that he adapted Mid-Century Modern trends to Southern Louisiana by incorporating features and materials popular in regional architecture. Desmond’s early career Hammond buildings can be described as “Acadian Modernism” because Desmond expertly fused Acadian design elements with the clean lines and broad forms of Modernism in his residential and commercial architecture.

Two of Desmond’s buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 - The Miller Memorial Library and the First Christian Church. This walking tour seeks to continue preserving Hammond’s Modern legacy through similar recognition.

Please remember that these buildings are private property and be respectful of homeowners' privacy. Enjoy the Modern architecture around you - in Hammond and elsewhere - and help us promote its importance as a historic national movement!

 
 
 The First Christian Church 305 E. Charles Street  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1960

The First Christian Church
305 E. Charles Street

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1960

 
 The Anthon House 408 N. Pine  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: c. 1972

The Anthon House
408 N. Pine

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: c. 1972

 
 The Sandage House 1419 Ellis  Architect: Andrew Gasaway Constructed: 1969

The Sandage House
1419 Ellis

Architect: Andrew Gasaway
Constructed: 1969

 
 The Richard Durham House 1415 Ellis  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: c. 1960

The Richard Durham House
1415 Ellis

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: c. 1960

 
 The Black House  2 Mauroner  Builder: Kimler Wainwright Constructed: c. 1960s

The Black House
2 Mauroner

Builder: Kimler Wainwright
Constructed: c. 1960s

 
 The Stetzel House 114 Elm  Architect: John Desmond  Constructed: 1963

The Stetzel House
114 Elm

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1963

 
 The Love House  601 Colorado  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1959  This home was designed to be significantly connected with its natural surroundings - a characteristic John Desmond feature. While the current owners have modernized the interior, the exterior maintains the Mid-Century Modern character defining features of privacy from the street and an openness to nature at the back.

The Love House
601 Colorado

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1959

This home was designed to be significantly connected with its natural surroundings - a characteristic John Desmond feature. While the current owners have modernized the interior, the exterior maintains the Mid-Century Modern character defining features of privacy from the street and an openness to nature at the back.

 The Locascio House 500 N. Linden  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1964  Not only does this house check off many Mid-Century Modern New Formalist-ic norms with its horizontality, integrated carport, and decorative ironwork on the door surround, but what makes the Locascio house unique among its contemporaries is the break in the roofline to allow space for a tree. Rarely in Desmond’s local work is that connection between landscape and home so visible from the street.

The Locascio House
500 N. Linden

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1964

Not only does this house check off many Mid-Century Modern New Formalist-ic norms with its horizontality, integrated carport, and decorative ironwork on the door surround, but what makes the Locascio house unique among its contemporaries is the break in the roofline to allow space for a tree. Rarely in Desmond’s local work is that connection between landscape and home so visible from the street.

 
 The Maddox House 902 W. Dakota  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1964  The exterior has been renovated over time to include personal design touches but still holds true to Mid-Century Modern features such as the low pitched, angular roof, the clerestory windows in the front gable, and a non-street facing main entrance. Exposed rafter tails also were common to the style by revealing structural components for decorative purposes.

The Maddox House
902 W. Dakota

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1964

The exterior has been renovated over time to include personal design touches but still holds true to Mid-Century Modern features such as the low pitched, angular roof, the clerestory windows in the front gable, and a non-street facing main entrance. Exposed rafter tails also were common to the style by revealing structural components for decorative purposes.

 
 The Gallaher House 907 W. Dakota  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1959  Built for C. Gallaher, the current owners have maintained the Mid-Century residence’s character defining features including terrazzo flooring throughout, two large hearths (evidenced on the exerior by the notable chimney tops), and a rear courtyard.

The Gallaher House
907 W. Dakota

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1959

Built for C. Gallaher, the current owners have maintained the Mid-Century residence’s character defining features including terrazzo flooring throughout, two large hearths (evidenced on the exerior by the notable chimney tops), and a rear courtyard.

 
 The Durham House 807 N. General Patton  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1965  This home was built for close friends of the Desmonds - the Durhams. The house is still owned by the Durhams. The only renovation has been a Desmond-designed addition extending west off of the original kitchen. This addition was a new concept in its own time - a “family room.”

The Durham House
807 N. General Patton

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1965

This home was built for close friends of the Desmonds - the Durhams. The house is still owned by the Durhams. The only renovation has been a Desmond-designed addition extending west off of the original kitchen. This addition was a new concept in its own time - a “family room.”

 
 The Rosenblum House 910 W. Idaho  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1958  This home holds true to many of Desmond’s stylistic associations on the exterior – i.e. the prominent hearth visible via the chimney and the low, horizontal nature of the structure.

The Rosenblum House
910 W. Idaho

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1958

This home holds true to many of Desmond’s stylistic associations on the exterior – i.e. the prominent hearth visible via the chimney and the low, horizontal nature of the structure.

 The Desmond House 905 Greenlawn  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1964  Originally built for John Desmond himself and his wife at the time, Blanche, the residence was heavily featured in national architectural publications, including the book Houses Architects Build for Themselves. The home is frequently cited as an excellent example of the Marcel Breuer “bifurcated plan.” The house is a series of pavilions and although the interior has seen much renovation, the individual, angular pavilions and the glass curtain walls that connect inside life with backyard nature remain the character defining features of the home.

The Desmond House
905 Greenlawn

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1964

Originally built for John Desmond himself and his wife at the time, Blanche, the residence was heavily featured in national architectural publications, including the book Houses Architects Build for Themselves. The home is frequently cited as an excellent example of the Marcel Breuer “bifurcated plan.” The house is a series of pavilions and although the interior has seen much renovation, the individual, angular pavilions and the glass curtain walls that connect inside life with backyard nature remain the character defining features of the home.

 
 The Antin Apartments 907 Greenlawn  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1959  This house was built for Mr. Walter Antin’s parents because this location was at the end of Antin’s backyard. Antin’s own home was a Mid-Century residence on Idaho Street designed by John Blitch. It is now demolished.

The Antin Apartments
907 Greenlawn

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1959

This house was built for Mr. Walter Antin’s parents because this location was at the end of Antin’s backyard. Antin’s own home was a Mid-Century residence on Idaho Street designed by John Blitch. It is now demolished.

 
 The Pittman House 122 College  Architect: John Desmond Constructed: 1959  This house, built for I.D. Pittman, is more in the mode of Desmond’s contemporary and former boss, A. Hays Town. This divergence from Desmond’s signature style was a specific request from the Pittmans. The house serves as an example of the steady taste for traditional revivals in American architecture happening parallel to the Modern movement. 

The Pittman House
122 College

Architect: John Desmond
Constructed: 1959

This house, built for I.D. Pittman, is more in the mode of Desmond’s contemporary and former boss, A. Hays Town. This divergence from Desmond’s signature style was a specific request from the Pittmans. The house serves as an example of the steady taste for traditional revivals in American architecture happening parallel to the Modern movement.