Preserving our Past

July 17, 2009


The Fred and Mary Zindler Residence, aka The All-Electric Demonstration home


6344 North Santa Monica Boulevard, WI 53217

This brick, cross-gabeled, Tudor residence features a half-timbered turret entrance, topped by a ‘Reddy Kilowatt’ weathervane, and a prominent oriel window.

It initially featured an attached garage. However, a stand-alone garage was built in 1984 and the previous garage area converted into living space. This home was built under General Electric Company’s New American home program, a nation-wide architectural contest to develop a home that would meet the modern requirements of the ‘Average American Family.’

The December 1935 issue of ‘Rail and Wire’ states, “The term ‘New American’ doesn’t mean a particular style or period – (but instead such homes) must be designed to reduce the work and drudgery of the housewife to the very minimum.” The article goes on to say, “The ‘New American’ homes are really planned from the inside out. That is, the first thought of the architect and builder was the interior arrangement, the relations of each room to the others and, only after that, did they give consideration to the dress the house would present to the passer-by.” Homes under the program were completely electrified.

While the program describes, “electric servants quietly and efficiently removing the drudgery,” the appliances described (electric refrigeration, ovens and stoves, and dishwashers) are commonplace today. The 1936 article discusses features designed into all ‘New American’ homes, including spaciousness and ample natural light during the day, but at night rooms “softly flooded by artificial light so they are as livable at night as in the daytime.” Adequate wiring also was an important design feature. The article explains that a “well-planned wiring system is necessary in order that full advantage may be taken of the electrical servants.”

Finally, the article mentions that ‘New American’ homes “are well built of good materials – and simply built. They are built to be within the price range of the average home owner.” General Electric continued to sponsor all-electric homes for several years, and featured an ‘Electric Home’ in the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The home was built for Fred Ernst and Mary Zindler and their family, who lived in the residence until the mid-1940s with their children, Fred Jr., John H. and Hugh Alan. The Zindler’s had previously lived at 415 East Day in Whitefish Bay. Fred Zindler worked as an advertizing salesman for various firms during his career, including the Journal Company, WISN, and Kelmar. Later in his career he was a field representative for the Photographers Association of America and a publisher’s representative.

Note: Please respect the rights of private property owners when viewing this or any of properties listed in this column.



About "Preserving Our Past"

The Village of Whitefish Bay is a community of residential neighborhoods, punctuated with an attractive walking district of fine stores, excellent schools and vibrant houses of worship. It is filled with homes and other buildings that are architecturally rich, well-designed and maintained, and diverse in character.

Its residents have contributed much to the broad cultural, political, economic and social history of the area. And its residents are interested in maintaining their connections with an historic past.

To help maintain these connections, the Historic Preservation Commission is in the process of identifying buildings and historic sites that it believes may be architecturally significant or historic. On a weekly basis we will feature a building or site from our inventory.




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