Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty Houses at 6715 Park Lane, and 6642, 6658, 6726, and 6733 Wildwood Way (Resource Numbers 0235, 0324, 0332, 0350, and 0354; Photo 15)
In March and May 1936, the Houston Post ran articles announcing that the firm of Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty had designed five houses for the Idylwood building program. Early examples of the Minimal Traditional style in Houston, the houses featured a low, three-twelve pitch roof instead of the typical, moderate to steep, eight-twelve or nine-twelve pitches common at the time. Each house was to be of brick veneer “with numerous modern ideas in space arrangement and convenience incorporated in the plans.” The houses at 6658 and 6733 Wildwood Way were to contain six rooms, and cost approximately $3,000.00.
The houses at 6726 and 6642 Wildwood Way and 6715 Park Lane (erroneously referred to in the 1936 article as 6713 Park Lane) were to contain five rooms and cost approximately $4,500.00. The March 1936 article stated that:
This makes the first instance in the history of residential construction in Houston where members of the American Institute of Architects have directly entered the small house field, both from the standpoint of designing units and supervising their construction.
Whether this is a case of boosterism or fact, it is significant to note that these houses were unique in that they were designed by well-known local architects for middle-class families.
John A. Embry further reported that:
[t]he building of these houses marks the first instance in Houston where professional architects were engaged to plan and supervise homes in the price range under $6500.
It was later reported that Nunn had a “great interest” in designing small houses for a moderate cost, and the partnership with Embry provided an opportunity to do so that would otherwise not be possible if dealing with a private owner. In addition to their affordability, the houses designed by Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty for Idylwood were a clear departure from residential design common at the time, and as previously discussed, were very early examples of the Minimal Traditional style in the region. Offering what Nunn called “freshness,” the houses were modern and used a three-twelve roof pitch. According to the March 1936 article:
[h]is conception of freshness in the design of a small home…does not lean particularly to the modernistic, but rather gives food for thought in the way of something truly different for the first time in a small house.”
The writer of the article goes on to distinguish the Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty designs by criticizing builders for the previous 15 to 20 years and their use of “a stock plan for a five or six-room job,” stating that “[A]rchitects just haven’t been interested in giving [homeowners] anything to think about.” The houses at 6642 and 6733 Wildwood Way, and 6715 Park Lane were featured in a promotional brochure for Idylwood (Figure 3). Typical characteristics of the Stayton Nunn-Milton McGinty houses are the aforementioned three-twelve roof pitch, and a very compact floor plan. The houses consist of a side-gabled rectangular plan (6658 Wildwood Way, Photo 15), a front-gabled plan with projecting front gable (6642 and 6733 Wildwood Way), a side-gabled plan with a projecting front gable (6726 Wildwood Way, not pictured), and a side-gabled plan with small side-gabled projection. The houses were clad in brick veneer over wood frames, and rested on pier-and-beam foundations. Decorative details are few, and consist of alternating projecting stretcher courses at the window surrounds (6642, 6658, and 6733 Wildwood Way), wood lap siding extending to the floor beneath the window sills (6726 and 6733 Wildwood Way), and shallow inset one-bay porches (6642 and 6726 Wildwood Way). The windows were originally two-over-two aluminum sash, and the door was a glazed wood panel door. Original doors exist at 6726 Wildwood Way, and original windows are present at 6658 and 6726 Wildwood Way, and the side façades of 6715 Park Lane.
The most decorative of the houses is 6715 Park Lane, which has an elevated porch, brick quoins at the front windows and door; although the front windows of this house have been replaced with shallow bay windows. The roof of 6733 Wildwood Way has been raised, and the porch extended. These alterations, along with the fact that the windows and door have been replaced, cause this house to be classified as noncontributing, for it has lost its integrity. The other four houses have only been altered in minor ways. They therefore retain their integrity and continue to contribute to the Idylwood Historic District. Landscapes of the houses are simple, mostly consisting of grass, trees, shrubs, and bedding plants. Original garages were built at 6642, 6726, and 6733 Wildwood Way, and at 6715 Park Lane. These garages retain their original form and function and remain contributing buildings to the district.