Get to Know the Man Behind Hood Midcentury Modern

Rae Witte
·5 min read

Started in December 2019, the Instagram account @hoodmidcenturymodern has accumulated over 39,000 followers in just over a year. Like the bio says, “Yes, there is midcentury design in the hood,” and the account’s creator, Jerald Cooper, is on a mission to highlight it all.

“I was walking up my childhood street when I saw these homes that I’ve seen my entire life that I knew were MCM. I don’t remember when I learned that they were MCM, but I remember wondering if the homies knew that they were,” he said over email. “I started comparing how these homes looked with how the houses look in southern California. That’s when I realized there is something here in showcasing modern/contemporary design to the homies and that by giving these things names it’d be empowering.”

His childhood street is in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city that isn’t usually heralded for its architectural contributions, but it’s not because those kinds of buildings aren’t there. While the preservation of and the education around design may not be as readily available in Ohio as it is in Palm Springs, interesting buildings and their stories do exist in places outside of those noted in coffee table books. And even if we haven’t been able to identify them by proper architectural classification, we have seen them in different cultural references, whether it’s Chingy’s 2004 “One Call Away” music video or in episodes of Ozark.

“Access to architecture and design opens up your world,” Jerald says. “I didn’t know there were cultures in buildings. I didn’t know how to define cultures through architecture, like, ‘Oh, this is the Italian section of the city because of the architecture and the intention of some of these original neighborhoods.’”

Since noticing how the buildings he’s highlighted have pushed followers to look at their own surroundings—and maybe even the streets they grew up on—with a new set of eyes, Hood Century has released flashcards featuring different structures and their coinciding styles of modern architecture, as well as original prints.

In addition to merchandise, HMC’s biggest focus is building the community through more exposure to architecture. “I want to continue to expand our digital reach by getting into TikTok and Twitter, and of course continuing with our theme of things that are educational but on the line of entertainment or edutainment. That’s everything.”

We asked Jerald to pick five of his favorite structures outside of neighborhoods known for their architecture.

Jerald Cooper’s Favorite Buildings

Year: Completed between 1894 and 1912
Architect: Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White
Style: Beaux-Arts
Photo credit: by Semaj Day (@horsebreath87)
Bronx Community College is one of the only colleges in New York State, one of the few colleges in the country, and the first community college to be designated as a National Landmark. Designed by Stanford White and originally the University Heights campus of NYU, the buildings are situated in a quadrangle with the domed Gould Memorial Library at the center. As NYU fell into financial distress in the early ’70s, it was sold to the state Dormitory Authority, allowing it to become BCC in 1973.

Bronx Community College, New York, NY

Year: Completed between 1894 and 1912
Architect: Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White
Style: Beaux-Arts
Photo credit: by Semaj Day (@horsebreath87)

Bronx Community College is one of the only colleges in New York State, one of the few colleges in the country, and the first community college to be designated as a National Landmark. Designed by Stanford White and originally the University Heights campus of NYU, the buildings are situated in a quadrangle with the domed Gould Memorial Library at the center. As NYU fell into financial distress in the early ’70s, it was sold to the state Dormitory Authority, allowing it to become BCC in 1973.

Semaj Day
Year: 1957
Architect: Armet and Davis; renovated in 1995 by P.M. Keeling Corporation
Style: Googie
Once a coffee shop and diner called the Wich Stand (with a cocktail lounge called Broom Room), Simply Wholesome was purchased and renovated in 1995 and is now a Black-owned health food store in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The structure was declared a landmark by the Los Angeles County Landmarks Commission in March 1989.

Simply Wholesome, Los Angeles, California

Year: 1957
Architect: Armet and Davis; renovated in 1995 by P.M. Keeling Corporation
Style: Googie

Once a coffee shop and diner called the Wich Stand (with a cocktail lounge called Broom Room), Simply Wholesome was purchased and renovated in 1995 and is now a Black-owned health food store in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The structure was declared a landmark by the Los Angeles County Landmarks Commission in March 1989.

Year: 1956
Architect: Richard Hein was the project architect, and it was designed by architect August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen.
Style: Minimalist 
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was commissioned by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude who was inspired by the Empire State Building. She initially started the project with Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright in Budapest, but it was abandoned due to World War II. It is still open to the public in Sedona, Arizona. 

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona

Year: 1956
Architect: Richard Hein was the project architect, and it was designed by architect August K. Strotz, both from the firm of Anshen & Allen.
Style: Minimalist

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was commissioned by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude who was inspired by the Empire State Building. She initially started the project with Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright in Budapest, but it was abandoned due to World War II. It is still open to the public in Sedona, Arizona.

Year: 1964
Architect: Eero Saarinen
Style: Modern
Although it isn’t popularly heralded as one of Eero Saarinen’s greatest designs, it was the last before his death in 1961. The octagonal shape is an element of note because the church’s congregation can sit facing each other during services. Due to the dwindling church community, in 2018 the building was added to a list of 10 Most Endangered Indiana Landmarks to raise awareness about the lack of funds needed for upkeep. A year later, Columbus, Indiana’s preservation program, Landmark Columbus, received a conservation grant from the Getty Foundation to establish a conservation plan.

North Christian Church, Columbus, Indiana

Year: 1964
Architect: Eero Saarinen
Style: Modern

Although it isn’t popularly heralded as one of Eero Saarinen’s greatest designs, it was the last before his death in 1961. The octagonal shape is an element of note because the church’s congregation can sit facing each other during services. Due to the dwindling church community, in 2018 the building was added to a list of 10 Most Endangered Indiana Landmarks to raise awareness about the lack of funds needed for upkeep. A year later, Columbus, Indiana’s preservation program, Landmark Columbus, received a conservation grant from the Getty Foundation to establish a conservation plan.

Year: 1962
Architect: Eero Saarinen; renovated and reopened to the public in 2019
Style: Midcentury Modern
Photo credit: Leslie Charlotte Finnie
Designed for Trans World Airlines, the TWA Flight Center was in operation in its original form from completion in 1962 until 2002, when it no longer fit modern planes or met security requirements for a terminal. The Saarinen-designed building sat unused for 18 years. In 2016, New York’s Port Authority and JetBlue started renovations for the TWA Hotel, which opened in 2019.

TWA Hotel in Jamaica, Queens, New York

Year: 1962
Architect: Eero Saarinen; renovated and reopened to the public in 2019
Style: Midcentury Modern
Photo credit: Leslie Charlotte Finnie

Designed for Trans World Airlines, the TWA Flight Center was in operation in its original form from completion in 1962 until 2002, when it no longer fit modern planes or met security requirements for a terminal. The Saarinen-designed building sat unused for 18 years. In 2016, New York’s Port Authority and JetBlue started renovations for the TWA Hotel, which opened in 2019.

Leslie Charlotte Finnie

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest