Click on images below to see photos of the "Perfect little moderne in East Grand Rapids"
PERFECT LITTLE MODERNE. TEXT AND PHOTOS BY PAM VANDERPLOEG
The perfect little moderne in East Grand Rapids was built by Keith Pratt in 1947. Pratt also built the iconic Alcoa Aluminum house on Michigan NE designed by Washington architect Charles Goodman. At the time of Pratt's death, the Grand Rapids Press obituary listed his building output at at over 100 homes.
The Moderne is a one-story steel frame house with a Zanolite concrete exterior and at the time cost $8,500. The roof is flat and the home has large windows shaded by attractive wooden shutters more tropical than mid-western. The straight modern lines and flat stucco facade may have shocked owners on this street of traditional homes, although architects Emil Zillmer and Alexander McColl built larger more elaborate International style homes of steel and concrete much earlier in the 1930's nearby on Pinecrest and on Plymouth Rd.
The house became a home in 1947 when William and Ruth Van Coevering paid the $16 water tap fee and moved in. In 1951 the Van Coverings spent $900 to add a garage.
Owner Colleen Alles is a Grand Rapids Public Library Local History Librarian. She researched the house history so we compared notes on Keith Pratt as we toured the house with Colleen holding baby Mara and Charley the dog following close behind.
The compact moderne is arranged efficiently to accommodate Micah and Colleen's busy family life. The main room is a combined living-dining area with a distinctive fireplace. There are three nice-sized bedrooms and two cozy baths, one featuring original glossy black tiles. Rounded front door and interior openings give the home a warm bungalow feel. Earlier photos show main areas had parquet floors replaced currently by dark wood flooring throughout. The previous owners had installed a new kitchen, but kept the unusual rounded niche for display of special decorative items.
The basement is a work and play space with room for Micah's many bikes. The original dining room is in transition to something else as the owners ponder their next move on the chessboard of home renovation.
This stylish house is nicely sited on the lot and anyone can see that for the neighborhood it is unique. Whether on foot or driving by this perfect little moderne deserves a second look.