Houses for a New World
Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs 1945-1965


Ross Cortese, Rossmoor, and Leisure World®

In Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs 1945-1965 (Princeton University Press, 2015), architectural historian Barbara Miller Lane discusses the radically new house forms employed by builders in the first twenty years after World War II. These new house types (ranch and split-level) were created by builders who were constructing new types of suburban communities. Lane devotes a chapter to the work of Ross Cortese, planner and developer of Rossmoor in Anaheim, CA (1956-62), one of the most interesting of these new communities. Here Cortese built important examples of the new “California ranch house” type, and positioned them on curving streets in a series of neighborhoods. While building Rossmoor, Cortese decided to turn his talents for community building to constructing dwellings for retired people; he began the first of these “Leisure World®s” at Seal Beach, on land that he had originally planned for an extension to Rossmoor. Other Leisure Worlds followed. So the Leisure World®s can be seen as a continuation of Cortese’s planning ideas and building methods as they were first developed at Rossmoor.

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