I grew up in southeast Wisconsin, about 12 or so blocks from Lake Michigan. One of the things my dad liked to do each weekend before bringing us home was drive along the Lake, stopping at parks here and there. His route was always the same and so my sisters and I stared out the window at the same homes and businesses, and came to know them in the way people know their drives to and from work. I loved looking out the window and thinking about the homes and the people who lived in them, built them, designed them. How they all added up to be a neighborhood. I still like to do this today, to look out the window of the car and wonder about the history of homes and neighborhoods in a casual, easy way as they pass by.
I don’t know how Pamela VanderPloeg started her research on Grand Rapids mid-century modern home architecture, but maybe it was because, like me, she was curious and observant and wanting to know more. In any case, her knowledge and dedication to documenting and researching the architects and developers of mid-century homes in West Michigan is inspiring. The staff in the Local History department has been lucky enough to help Pam with her research, and to get to hear her latest discoveries. Take a look at West Michigan Modern for a taste of what she’s up to.
As part of GR Reads, a spin-off program inspired by the book Where’s You Go, Bernadette, Pamela VanderPloeg will present GR Modern: Home Architecture 1945-1970 on Thursday, July 25 at 7:00pm at Temple Emanuel.