City News

Henry Doelger, Westlake District Subject of New Documentary

Filmmakers Rob Keil and Monique Lombardelli released a new documentary chronicling the development of Daly City’s Westlake District.  Little Boxes: The Legacy of Henry Doelger, is an architectural and historical journey through one of America’s most iconic postwar suburbs.  Keil started work on the film shortly after publishing his critically acclaimed book, Little Boxes: The Architecture of a Classic Midcentury Suburb.   Meet the filmmaker, Rob Keil, and see his new documentary Wednesday, April 16 at 6:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Serramonte Library.  Admission is free.

The documentary incorporates vintage footage of Henry Doelger’s ambitious Westlake development under construction, along with interviews from those who helped transform barren sand dunes into a thriving community.  Keil derived the title Little Boxes from Malvina Reynolds’ 1962 folk song of the same name.  Westlake’s residents derided the song and found its lyrics offensive (Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky…).  Fifty-two years after its release, some call the song one of Daly City’s greatest claims to fame.

While Westlake homes have been featured in numerous books, commercial, newspapers, and magazines, Little Boxes is the first documentary exclusively about Henry Doelger and his signature community. The film not only documents Doelger’s place in history, but it uncovers Westlake’s amazing development process and celebrates its classic midcentury style.  The documentary is available on DVD and may be ordered at

little boxes, westlake, dvd, Rob Keil