View from dining area to living room with clerestory windows

The House That Verne Built: Mid-Century Modern DIY

Vern Nelson

Vern Nelson in his beautiful hand built home
where he and his wife were able to age in place.


We had been working with Verne Olson, of Parkrose, and his wife to include their house on the upcoming Mid Century Modern House of Tomorrow Tour when his health took a turn for the worse several months ago. We were saddened to learn this week that Verne has passed away.

Verne (with family and friends) designed and built their family home in 1962. Verne had been the shop teacher at Park Rose High School for twelve years before he began his home building project. It took two years to complete the bulk of the home — working summers and weekends until finished. He belonged to a generation where do-it-yourself homebuilding was not that uncommon.

Tree sculpture over the fireplace made by Verne Nelson

A metal tree sculpture
made by Verne Nelson
hangs over the fireplace

His design of the house reflected the forward thinking, innovative “House of Tomorrow” vision of the time. And of course, being a shop teacher by trade, the entire house features an uncommonly high level of finish carpentry skill. Verne also designed and built the hanging light fixtures and metal sculptures on the wall.

Mr. Olson went on teaching shop for nineteen more years after starting the house, and then started a second career in 1981 as Assistant Principal. He and his wife raised two boys in the house, who were also recruited as homebuilding assistants in their day!

The family’s house of tomorrow served them quite well, without modification, into the future. The well maintained house looks as good today as when completed fifty-two years ago. Please enjoy a glimpse into this hand-built mid-century home in memory of Verne Olson.

To learn more about Mid-Century Modern Houses, join us on May 13th for the companion talk that precedes our tour: The Mid-Century Modern House: A Vision of Tomorrow.  And on Saturday, May 14th you will have the opportunity to visit another house, lovingling hand built by the current owner in 1954 along with six more homes on our Mid-Century Modern House of Tomorrow Tour.

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3 Responses to The House That Verne Built: Mid-Century Modern DIY

  1. Sandra stater April 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

    I love a true sstor they are rhe best. Truth pasion honor

  2. KCD April 20, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    the pictures all have captions that bleed out of the frame and then don’t appear anywhere else. Annoying.

    • Denise Bartelt April 21, 2016 at 9:07 am #

      Hi Katie, thanks for alerting us to the functionality shortfalls of our gallery photos. We will certainly work on making that a better experience for our readers.

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