December 9, 2011

Our Levittown house was a very, very, very fine house with a cozy fireplace

Marilyn Monsrud Frese in front of her family's rental, 45 Cornflower Road in 1948

Click on photo to enlarge


Class of 1963

I remember the warm and cozy fireplace in our Levitt house. I believe it was in 1948 that my parents purchased a new Levitt ranch, but we had to rent a Cape Cod model (see photo above) while the ranches were being completed. The Capes were put up first because of the extra time it took to install the fireplaces in each ranch house, and speed was a necessity as so many people needed to get into a house ASAP.

Rentals were arranged for those who purchased ranches and had to wait. No Levittown house stood empty for more than a week or two.

In the ranch house, the front room kitchen (which was larger than the Capes' kitchens) is separated from the living room by an unattached standing brick wall with the fireplace opening on both sides, so it's enjoyed from both rooms at the same time. You could circle the brick wall from either side into the other room.

There was a movable cabinet that swung open like a room divider at one end of the fireplace wall. The divider had shelving/display cases, great for books, and a built-in closet to hang up coats. You could swing the whole unit away from the wall to create more privacy to either room, or swing it open to create a large opening between the rooms, great for when you had a party, which many of the neighbors did back in the early years.

No one had money to go out much, so home parties took place on many blocks each Saturday night. And the kids usually got some friends to sleep over because there weren't many older kids to babysit back then. We would hover on the top step to listen to what our parents were saying and watch them dance (always music and dancing) and my mom would always bring up plates full of snacks for us. No one ever told us we had to get to sleep. It was great fun.

That little brick fireplace brought such a sense of warmth and hominess to houses which were sparsely furnished with many hand-me-downs. It truly made the house feel like a home. I still live in the Levitt ranch, only now it's pushed out back and up. We still use the fireplace although the heated floors have been gone for decades. I am forever a Levittown girl!


marilyn Monsrud Frese said...

YEAH!!! The "Barnstormer" IS BACK!!!

Anonymous said...

Bob Arthur wrote. . .

Thanks for bringing back the memories of the fireplace in our houses. It was a great idea by Levitt to build it so that it was open on one side to the kitchen and one to the living room. I still can vividly remember lying on the floor in the living room snuggled up next to our pet dog in front of a roaring fire while watching television. I doubt that that experience will ever be replicated and I don't know if I want it to be.

Anonymous said...

Leslie Sands Bell commented . . .
I loooved those fireplaces- was glad to visit friends who lived in the ranches! We had a cozy cape and a faux fireplace that my mother made. Marilyn's article brought me right back to those wonderful days.