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The Globe and Mail

Architectural sightlines from the sixties

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Brian McGuire's prefabricated steel house in Palm Springs, Calif., designed in 1961 by architects Donald Wexler and Ric Harrison. In March, it became the first postwar structure recognized by the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Dan Chavkin/Dan Chavkin

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Steel house enclave in Palm Springs, Calif., from a 1960s promotional brochure.

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Four years before Mr. McGuire purchased the 1,400 sq. ft. home in 2005, previous owners had addressed deferred maintenance during a 'very modest' restoration. 'I think that's why I had so little difficulty getting to the National Register designation, because the historic integrity of the house had been maintained,' he says.

Dan Chavkin/Dan Chavkin

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The stylish vacation homes boast floor-to-ceiling windows with multiple siding doors to patios, different roof shapes (one had a zig-zaggy folded plate), flexible room configurations, and unadorned surfaces inside and out. Unlike conventional wood-frame, steel is impervious to rot, warping, termites and fire. It also dissipates heat after sunset, and, at the time, for the same cost as stick-built.

Dan Chavkin/Dan Chavkin

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Finished components for the first three homes (completed March 1962; the other four were built later) arrived via five truckloads from Los Angeles ready to be bolted together. Onsite assembly took just three days.

Dan Chavkin/Dan Chavkin

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The U.S. National Historic Site's 50-year rule meant Mr. McGuire's home wasn't eligible when he first put pen to application in August 2011.

Dan Chavkin/Dan Chavkin

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Mr. McGuire in his pool.

Jim Brown/Atomic Ranch/Jim Brown/Atomic Ranch

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