In 1941 Millard Saxton founded the Engineered Products Company working from his garage in Flint, Michigan, making storm door locking mechanisms. Still in business today, EPCO is a brand name for architectural hardware products. Well-acquainted with Alden B. Dow’s work, Mr. Saxton asked the architect to design a home for his family with “a lot of room on a low budget.” Floorplans were finished by the end of 1947 and construction was completed in the fall of 1948. The final cost was $32,000, not including the architect’s fee of 10%.
The exterior of the single-story home is cinderblock capped by projecting eaves of wood boards. The roof is mostly flat except for a slanted portion that rises up to meet the side of the chimney mass. Beneath this pitched section are fixed glass windows.
The entrance to the residence is tucked into the corner of the “car shelter.” Upon entering, the living room is to the right and features a wall of slanting glass windows that look out onto the street. Shelves line one wall and end at a built-in desk with linoleum top.
From the living room, one is drawn into a cozier sitting room by the fireplace and built-in sofa. Both the sitting room and main entry hall lead into a dining room with a row of skylights above an exposed plank roof deck that also covers the sitting room and living room ceilings.
A narrow galley-style kitchen with clerestory windows includes a laundry and ironing area at one end. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms are clustered at the more private northwest corner of the house. Walls throughout the house (except in the bathrooms) are exposed cinderblock, and floors are asphalt tile on concrete slab with radiant heating.
In an interesting experiment in the dual use of space, a playroom by day becomes an indoor garage at night, thanks to an 8-foot wide tilt-up door in the wall at the back of the “car shelter.”
The Saxton residence was featured in a 1949 TIME magazine article entitled, “Modern Houses Across America,” placing Alden B. Dow squarely among other prominent architects of the time, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Richard Neutra.