Newly listed midcentury modern home was designed by Ron Molen

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A home designed by one of Utah’s preeminent midcentury modern architects hit the market this week in Salt Lake City’s Ensign Downs neighborhood north of the Capitol.

Ron Molen designed and may have lived in the home at 239 Dorchester Drive in the late 1960s, one of hundreds the architect designed in the Salt Lake Valley at the time.

The four-bed, three-bath home hit features much of Molen’s original design choices and was listed for $899,000 by Paul Svendsen at Windermere Real Estate.

“Ron Molen’s houses are really special,” Svendsen said. “His exteriors always pack a punch, and that’s definitely true here with the vertical siding and zigzag roofline.” 

Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)

Molen graduated from the University of Utah in 1958 and began working in the area soon after, creating the designs for hundreds of homes in West Valley City’s Westshire neighborhood.

“His interiors have great volume and natural light but somehow retain an extremely appealing sense of warmth and coziness,” Svendsen said. “This house is a particularly good example of Molen’s skills coming together beautifully in a single project.”

A classified ad from 1969, shortly after the home was built, shows Molen considered the home to be “New Research Contemporary,” which may be a reference to Molen’s work with Research Homes in the 1960s.

“Exciting floor plan including conversation pit in front of fireplace, dining room, family type kitchen with electric built-in appliances,” the classified says. “Main floor utilities, 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, 2-car garage on lower level.”

Svendsen said the home has a conversation pit, not uncommon among mid-century modern homes. The pit has since been covered up.

“That’s quintessential Molen,” Svendsen said.

Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)

Tracy Cottle of Inwest Title found an old title document that shows Molen owned the property from February 1968 through October 1969, when he listed it for the “low, low” price of $41,500.

“Character-defining features of Molen-designed houses include hand built, wood, light sconces on the exterior, rough sawn cedar used as exterior sheathing as well as interior décor, highly decorative front doors, and flat roofs.”

Molen’s designs were typical post-war in their approach to the street, focusing more on private space in the backyard rather than the pre-war front porches and street engagement.

Windermere is offering open houses Saturday until 2 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)
Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)
Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)
Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)
Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)
Credit: Windermere Real Estate (9th & 9th)

Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.