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Sunday Drives: Ron Molen/Westshire Neighborhood

This week’s leisurely Sunday drive took an educational route to a small pocket of our city that’s packed with both historic significance and architectural eye-candy (particularly for those who have a fondness for all things mid-century). The Westshire neighborhood of Salt Lake is an atypical subdivision that has long been talked about (nay, swooned over) for its humble beginnings and, ultimately, its preservation. 

mid-century modern home by Ron Molen

mid-century modern home by Ron Molen

Started in 1962 by well-known mid-century modern architect Ron Molen (in partnership with Research Homes), the Westshire neighborhood was initially a single plat with just a few properties that, over the course of about 10 years, grew to include 160 homes in total. Here, you’ll find flat roof lines or vaulted ceilings, colorful front doors, and a mixture of brick or rough-sawn cedar exteriors. And while some have started to languish a bit as time has passed, the community is largely inhabited by those who have an appreciation for the architect's work and value the preservation of these unique and beautiful properties.

In line with the primary tenets of modernist architecture, Molen prioritized simplicity, functionality, and social progression in the design and creation of the Westshire neighborhood.

Moreover, he sought to build something that appealed to middle class families—on the low end, they sold at the time sold for somewhere around $15,000 and on the high end, closer to $45,000. While square footage is mostly modest (aesthetics over size and functionality over opulence), the interiors feel ample and bright. Every home in the development includes hallmark characteristics of mid-century homes, including floor-to-ceiling windows, wood paneling, sunken living rooms and fireplaces that would encourage gathering, and open-air atriums.

mid-century modern home by Ron Molen

brick and cedar mid-century modern homes by Ron Molen

mid-century modern home by Ron Molen

Molen also wanted to use the space creatively in cultivating a community that prioritized social lifestyle and promoted a family-forward approach to living. All told, there are 15 different designs employed in the neighborhood—some used just once and others found many times over—but each property was also stamped with characteristics that would set it apart from the others in some way. Some of the floor plans are peppered with more playful elements like slides, hidden nooks, fire poles, or under-bed hobby closets. Molen called this “creative family living.” 

Back yards also take a front seat in Westshire: rather than a pre-war approach, wherein homes encouraged street engagement via front porches, Molen’s preference highlights a post-war emphasis on the privacy of the back yard, achieved via large windows, conspicuous decks or patios, and in some cases, pools. Nevertheless, as evidenced by these images, he designed exteriors striking enough to pull plenty of street engagement for decades to come.

mid-century modern home with yellow door

mid-century modern home by Ron Molen

mid-century modern home

mid-century modern home in Westshire

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in Westshire, a house designed by Ron Molen, or other mid-century modern properties in and around Salt Lake City? We're happy to help! We have a team of experienced real estate agents, and we can help you stay up-to-date and informed about the market, no matter your goals for home. Contact us anytime to chat....we're happy to answer any questions you may have.

Homeworks Property Lab, 66 Exchange Pl., SLC P: 801.810.8696


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