Peer Inside the Stunning William Duquette House in Glendale

Over five decades Tom McIntyre has built an enviable classic car collection. He’s also amassed a cache of midcentury-modern furniture. Once he found the unspoiled William Duquette house in Glendale, he had just the right setting for pieces that tell the history of a brave new design world

Tom McIntyre is a serious collector of cars in a city that’s serious about its automobiles. But just as impressive as the Corvettes and Porsches is McIntyre’s trove of midcentury-modern furniture, a testament to how much the Valley native prefers living like it’s 1959.

For his first home the car buff purchased a nondescript 1950s house, but its lack of architectural flair didn’t stop him from decorating with period pieces like the Heywood-Wakefield bedroom set from the now-defunct antiques store Piccolo Pete’s. Soon he’d acquired such master works as pristine Eames lounge chairs and a Jean Prouvé table, Arne Jacobsen “Egg” chairs and a Greta Grossman lamp. But they didn’t have a truly proper setting until he happened upon a 1958 William Duquette house in Glendale, a modernist classic that was unsullied. That its architect also designed Riverside International Raceway added a karmic note for McIntyre, whose Burbank company manufactures auto emblems. He became the home’s third owner in 2006.

What resonates with McIntyre is how midcentury design embraced the bold new atomic age while “giving it an air of sophistication,” he says. This elegance is apparent at the Glendale house, where the slanted tongue-and-groove ceiling blends seamlessly into glass walls that look onto a green glade of grass and ferns. Skylights frame sculptural sycamore branches that loom overhead.

To the right of the entry—paneled in lush fiddleback mahogany—is a long open space with a cast-concrete fireplace encircled by glass so that it appears to float in space. Eames chairs and side tables form a conversation area. Along one wall a George Nelson shelving unit holds a mix of precious items: Eva Zeisel ceramics, a “Dog Lamp” by Jean Boris Lacroix. In a few places the midcentury furniture has been supplemented with contemporary pieces. McIntyre loves that visitors assume the lights in the dining room, which boasts Ludwig Mies van der Rohe chairs and Dorothy Thorpe glass candleholders, are some midcentury find. They’re from Ikea, he says, laughing.

The kitchen underwent the most renovation. Still, the minimalist cabinets hew to a modernist aesthetic. McIntyre hung a Nelson clock and Metlox ceramics over the stove and placed an Eero Saarinen table and chairs in the breakfast nook. “When I walked into the house for the first time,” he says, “I was amazed at how well preserved it was.”

My Favorite Year by Tom McIntyre
“As I began collecting midcentury furniture, I found that the pieces I liked best came from 1957. That year I was ten and well on my way to saving for my first car. My family was close friends with Lewis Wise and Allan Adler, who were iconic modernist silversmiths. I would watch Mr. Wise hand hammer plates and trays and silverware when we visited on weekends. I remember getting my first glimpse of the Capitol Records building along the Hollywood Freeway; it had been finished the year before and actually looked like a stack of records. Later I asked to go to the restaurant at the LAX Theme Building when I graduated from Millikan Junior High School. That was really special. I loved that place and still do. I watched the wildly modern Lautner-designed Chemosphere house being constructed in the North Hollywood hills as I began driving around L.A. at 16. I think these exposures to modern design had a lasting effect on my life.”