The Oral History Project – Jack LeVine Tells How He Fell In Love With Mid Century Modern Architecture

Todays 1 year birthday post is about my being interviewed for the Oral History Project which was conducted by the UNLV Sociology Department. The subject was downtown neighborhoods. I spent 2 hours yesterday telling my story.

I bought some apartments at 11th and Stewart in 1985 when I moved to LV. I lived there and ran them and battled the crack dealers and prostitutes for 8 years. My parents owned the sandwich shop “your place or mine” at 7th and Carson. I envisioned the area becoming an “arts and entertainment” district. I was way too far ahead of reality at the time. But now it’s happening and of course the arts district I imagined is south of downtown.

And in the middle of the interview, my tired brain opened up, and out popped my VERY first memory of “mid mod” that I’m still so passionate about. And, I realized, it’s what shaped my passion for real estate and architecture in general.

The story? Well, I quit college one day in 1975 and became a truck driver. (I assure you, there’s a back story to that decision). Thru a stroke of luck, in my very first weeks of moving computers and art and stuff for Allied Van Lines, I got dispatched to the Smithsonian in Washington to move some of the traveling BiCentennial exhibit. The Smithsonian people liked our work, our manners and our who knows what else, but the next year (and subsequently, many times in the future), I was requested/demanded as the only driver they were going to trust with the moving of the, get this, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT “USONIAN” home from DC to it’s new permanant home in Phoenix. It was really a coup for a 22 year old. And that’s the day I saw my first “modernist” home, and have been in love with them ever since. To learn more about “usonian” there’s always google, but I’m getting you started with this link to a terrific website telling the story of how FLW and the Usonian got translated into the “Eichler” and their minion of architect followers and what we now call “mid-century modern”. (Don’t be late for work, it’s really fascinating.)