History ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-15-2021


“Don’t Make Fun of the Residents” examines home ownership and suburban development over the last one hundred years in the borderlands, American West, and Sunbelt regions. In this dissertation I argue that mobility shaped urban planning, neighborhood design, and architectural identity in the Sunbelt over the course of the twentieth century. “Don’t Make Fun of the Residents” places architectural identity at the center of this dissertation discussion to understand the origins of the Sunbelt as a geographic and intellectual space. I focus in particular on smaller cities in the intermountain West---New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and California---an area that has been marginalized in the historical scholarship. I evaluate the work of early-twentieth-century Sunbelt architects such as Henry Trost, and developers in the early Cold War era such as Cliff May, Dale Bellamah, and Del Webb. By scrutinizing a wide variety of sources, I consider the factors that shaped neighborhood identity and suburban design up until the early twenty-first century. Within this scope, the buildings, public and private, provide further insight into our already complicated understanding of regional identity within the Sunbelt.

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Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Samuel Truett

Second Committee Member

Paul Hutton

Third Committee Member

Larry Ball

Fourth Committee Member

Carmen Nocentelli

Fifth Committee Member

Jon Hunner




housing, urban, architecture, mid century modern, neighborhood design, Bellamah, Trost, Webb, May

Document Type