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    by Alden B. Dow FAIA, 1938

3820 Salem, Midland, MI

Designed by AB Dow FAIA in 1938.

The John Best Residence, Midland, Michigan

Also known as the House for $3,000, the John Best residence was designed by Alden B. Dow in 1938 to remedy the need for housing to accommodate the expanding workforce of the Dow Chemical Company.  It was one of several affordable small homes he designed for Midland in the 1930’s and 40’s, including the F.W. Lewis (1933) and A.C. Barclay (1937) residences and the Dow Chemical Company House 101 (1939).

After construction was complete but before it was purchased by the Best family, the house was publicized in a lengthy article in the July 5, 1938 Midland Daily News entitled, “Dow Ready to Open Model Home; Function, Economy Stressed in Design of Salem Street Structure Built to House Family with Four Children.”  The furnished model was open to public tours over the course of five days.

The house features a flat roof over exterior walls of large Homasote panels.  A projecting picture window dominates the boxy white façade.  The main entrance is recessed under the cantilevered roof.  The interior floorplan is compact and economical.  Although modest in size, the combined living/dining room is opened up by the 12-foot by 6-foot bay window that overlooks the street.  Within this space is a built-in fir plywood dining table next to the brick chimney.  The table serves as a transition to the small kitchen just off to the left.  Three bedrooms line up along the back wall of the home and share one bathroom.  Celotex insulation board is used for the walls and ceiling; floors are edge grain fir.  The basement includes a fireplace and a spacious game room in addition to a laundry/utility room.

The Best residence had the distinction of being one of the 50 low-cost houses profiled in the April 1939 issue of Architectural Forum.  Although it was intended to be affordably priced at $3,000, the total completed cost listed in the article actually amounted to $4,551.

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Public Tour Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance of desired tour date. Please take the time to read our Covid-19 safety requirements outlined on our public tour page. *We are requiring all guests (including fully vaccinated) to mask up while in the building.
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