Do you drive around looking for Modernist houses? Then you’re going to love working as a volunteer USModernist field research agent, finding and photographing La-area houses online and/or in your car for the award-winning nonprofit preservation site USModernist, the largest open digital archive for Modernist houses in the world. We’re looking to complete archives on Los Angeles-based architects Gregory Ain, Craig Ellwood, Raphael Soriano, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Quincy Jones, and more all found here. Field research agents volunteer 3-4 hours every other week. This can be as simple as taking an afternoon to drive around, or a few hours at night to surf the web. Warning: hunting for and researching Modernist houses is seriously addictive, as anyone seriously reading this already knows! Do you have the passion, curiosity, and – be honest – available time? Send an email with your name, phone number, address, and architects you’re most interested in. You’ll have a short interview scheduled within a week. Thanks!
Posts in category Treasures of Los Angeles Architecture
Ma Residence, Norman Millar 2016. A 1924 Silver Lake home re-imagined through a contemporary design that honors its elegant ‘bones.’ The Ma residence designed by Norman Millar, former ASCA President and Dean of the School of Architecture at Woodbury University, who passed away in 2016. The house, completed shortly after his untimely death, was his final completed project. The result of 5-plus year conversation Between owner and architect while both served on the Artist Advisory Group of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the renovation takes the footprint of the original Spanish-style house, re-conceptualizes and maximizes its hill-side lot, taking advantage of natural light and air circulation, as well as location and landscape to facilitate a Californian indoor and outdoor lifestyle. The upstairs area features an open-plan living area with kitchen and dining area that incorporate the original pentagonal breakfast nook where cooking and dining flow seamlessly into each other. The bi-fold La Cantina glass door opens up completely and creates an indoor/outdoor entertaining experience. The two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs are secluded from public view, and the kitchen and bathroom feature custom concrete counters and cabinetry built around high-end fixtures and appliances. The downstairs is a completely modern space with cast concrete floors and wood paneling creating warm tones and a more intimate ambiance. Sliding doors open to the secluded backyard in both the master bedroom and living room. The master bathroom also features custom counters and vanity, as well as a glass-walled, open standing shower with dual function heads. The property is landscaped exclusively with drought-tolerant native plants, including a spectacular Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) reputed to be one of the largest known specimen. An organic yet secure woven steel fence provides even more privacy on this private hill-side neighborhood, within walking distance from the hustle and bustle of ‘hip’ Sunset Junction. The property, with views of the Silver Lake hills, Hollywood, Griffith Park Observatory and the Hollywood sign, has a high livability factor that combines the best of urban living with the tranquility of nature.
The 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in 1146 sq. ft. is currently (May 2017) on the market listed for sale for $1.095,000. Located at 1415 Murray Drive in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, California. For more information, please contact
200 South Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena, California 91101
From the comfort of your laptop, car, or both, be a volunteer USModernist field research agent in Los Angeles. Research Modernist houses online and/or in your car to solve the missing pieces of USModernist, the largest open digital archive for Modernist houses in the world. We’re looking to complete our archives on Los Angeles-based architects Gregory Ain, Craig Ellwood, Raphael Soriano, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Quincy Jones, and more all found here.
Field research agents volunteer about two hours a week, or about four hours every other week. This can be as simple as taking an afternoon to drive around, or a few hours at night to surf the web. Warning: hunting for and researching Modernist houses is seriously addictive, if you’re really into architecture. You’ll work with our chief of research, Catherine Cramer.
Do you have the passion, curiousity, and available time? Send an email with your name, phone number, address, and which architects you’re most interested in. Thanks!
At a time when Hollywood screenwriter Elinor Glyn helped to make a star of actress Clara Bow, for whom she coined the label “the It girl” in 1928, little is remembered of her co-star, Antonio Moreno who appeared with Bow in the film It in 1927. It was Clara Bow’s first starring role; Moreno had already appeared in dozens of films, beginning in 1912, the year of his arrival in Los Angeles during which he appeared in seven films.
Moreno grew up in Gibraltar where he grew up knot a handsome lad of impressive charm, impressive enough to attract the attention (in more ways than one) of two important tourists: Benjamin Curtis, son of US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis, and Enrique de Cruzat Zanetti (also known as Sheikh Birbal), a leader in the Sufi branch of Islam. Curtis and Zanetti invited the teenager to accompany them on the remainder of their travels with Moreno serving as interpreter to the ailing Curtis. Arriving in New York in 1902, Moreno wasted no time in attracting more patrons, including Charlotte Morgan, a wealthy widow who invited him to live her at her home in Northampton, Massachusetts.
In Northampton, Antonio caught the acting bug after playing in a summer production of the resident stock company, after which he moved with the company to New York City. Charming his way into the company, he made his Broadway debut in 1910, and by 1912 was doing Shakespeare with the touring Southern and Marlow Company. When English director Walter Edwin suggested he might do well in motion pictures, he moved to Hollywood in 1912 and appeared in seven films during the year of his arrival.
In all, Moreno appeared in 140 films, rising to fame as an exotic romantic hero, benefitting from the “Latin Lover” craze begun by Rudolph Valentino. He appeared alongside every dramatic star of the silent era including Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson and the aforementioned Clara Bow.
In 1923 Antonio married oil heiress Daisy Canfield, daughter of Charles Canfield, who with Edward Doheny discovered Los Angeles’ black gold in the 1890s. The marriage was one of convenience, given alleged same-sex inclinations on the part of both. A perception of normalcy in sexual relations would have been especially important for a macho-playing movie star, who like Valentino, had to constantly fend off rumors about his sexuality.
With unlimited funds acquired through the divorce from her first husband, oilman J. M. Danzinger, Daisy hired noted architect Robert Farquhar to design a Mediterranean style villa on the crest of the highest hill in Silver Lake. Christened the Crestmont, the estate would become famous for its lavish parties attended by celebrities, socialites and prominent members of Los Angeles’ Spanish and Mexican era land grant families.
For more on the life of Antonio Moreno, the book, Silver Lake Chronicles: Exploring an Urban Oasis in Los Angeles makes for excellent reading.
Architect William Mellema designed the Spanish Colonial Revival style house for Dr. W. Curtis Brigham and his wife Margaret in 1930. Dr. Brigham was an orthopedic surgeon associated with Monte Sano Hospital, the first modern osteopathic hospital in Southern California, envisioned as the “perfect health recuperation resort”. The hospital, built in 1923 was located on a hillside at the corner of Glendale Avenue and Waverly Drive and closed down in the 1970s.
William Mellema was born in Friesland, a province in the northeast of the Netherlands in 1889. He obtained a Master of Science in Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects from 1946 until his death on June 7, 1970. He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
The 4-bedroom, 4-bath home in 3402 sq. ft. is currently (February 2016) on the market listed for sale for $2,150,000 and described in the listing as “An unexpected Spanish Colonial Revival compound has stood the test of time and appears much as it did when it first built over 85 years ago. Located on over a half acre lot, the house features authentic period details including graceful archways, gathering arcades, entertaining courtyards and red tile roof serving as sweet reminders of a bygone era”.
The Brigham House is located at 2727 Waverly Drive in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has put his Echo Park area home on the market, listed for sale for $1,650,000. Garcetti lived in the house during his term on the Los Angeles City Council, representing District 13. The house, which he shared with his wife, Amy Wakeland has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and is described in the listing as “The Garcetti/Wakeland residence. C. 1953. Daniel L. Dworsky, AIA. Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and on the cover of Dwell. Sited on almost half an acre of land, this 3 bedroom/2 Bathroom Echo Park Hills Post and Beam home was renovated and expanded by Architect Elissa Scarfano to emphasize its modernist characteristics while making it more comfortable for current living utilizing sustainable materials and greater energy efficiency. PRIVACY, an open flexible floor plan, floor to ceiling windows, myriad Indoor/outdoor living spaces, solar panels, sweeping city and canyon views. Great room with double sided fireplace, Cook’s kitchen, First floor bedroom offers ensuite living area, Master and 2nd bedroom upstairs. With its terraced organic vegetable garden, citrus orchard and easy access to Elysian Park, this rare offering is ideal for hikers, outdoor enthusiasts and gardeners, a calm and peaceful retreat in the heart of LA”.
The Garcetti-Wakeland Residence is located at 2120 Avon Street.
Long before Georges and Albin came out in the French film, La Cage aux Folles (1978) or RuPaul made transvestitism hip, Julian Eltinge, by the 1910s, had established himself as the greatest female impersonator in the history of the American theatre. Unlike other gender illusionists of his time, who typically presented themselves as caricatures of femininity, Eltinge left the impression amongst theatergoers of actually being a woman! No one before or since has rivaled his popularity. At the height of success, he was a bona fide star with a Broadway theater named after him, performing before European royalty and owning one of the most lavish estates ever built in Silver Lake.
His particular brand of fame had its pitfalls given the times in which he lived, when homosexuality was far less accepted than today. Eltinge overcompensated for presumptions about his gayness by projecting a super-stud image. Publicity photos showed him horseback riding, chopping wood and smoking cigars (there was even a cigar brand named after him); newspapers reported his frequent bar brawls and (staged) boxing matches, including one with heavyweight champ, “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. When confronted publicly about the ambiguity, Eltinge’s typical response was “I’m not gay, I just like pearls.”
Given the precariousness of his personal life, Eltinge kept the details of his personal life shrouded in mystery and embellished with myth. Encouraged by his mother at a young age to dress up in skirts, Eltinge was already performing in drag at local saloons as a teenager growing up in Montana. When his father learned of these activities, he beat the boy severely, causing his mother to send him to Boston for his protection in 1899.
Freed from his father’s wrath, Eltinge’s affinity for dressing up as a woman burst into full bloom. Changing his given name, William Dalton to Julian Eltinge, he joined the Cadet Theatricals, an all-male troupe whose members, in classic Shakespearean style, played both male and female roles. From there, he moved on to the Bijou Theater in New York, where in 1904 he played a man disguising himself as a woman in a musical with songs by Jerome Kern. Eltinge’s performance earned rave reviews and made him a sensation. He played New York’s vaudeville circuit and made a tour of Europe, capped off by a command performance for King Edward VII, who presented him with a pet bulldog.
On his return to New York in 1907, he performed as a Gibson girl, a role that catapulted him to the pinnacle of female impersonators. As Variety enthused, “The audience was completely deceived as to Eltinge’s sex until he removed his wig…his act is far and away above what is described as female impersonation.”
Eltinge moved to Los Angeles in 1917, eager to cash in on the burgeoning movie industry. His first featured role was in The Countess Charming, followed by The Isle of Love alongside Rudolph Valentino. Not limiting himself to film, he launched his own magazine, Julian Eltinge’s Magazine and Beauty Hints. In 1918, he triumphantly returned to the Broadway stage with The Julian Eltinge Players, performed at the Palace Theatre.
At the height of his popularity, Eltinge had renowned architects Francis Pierpont and Walter Swindell Davis design a lavish estate in Silver Lake, the Villa Capistrano, located at 2327 Fargo Street. The pink villa is still standing today; it can best be observed from West Silver Lake Drive, looking across Silver Lake Reservoir.
With advancing age and mounting public homophobia, Eltinge’s star began to fade; in later life his roles were limited to sporadic night club appearances. He fell ill while performing at the Diamond Horseshoe Club on May 7, 1941, and died of a cerebral hemorrhage ten days later. His remains are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, alongside those of his parents.
Adapted from Silver Lake Chronicles: Exploring an Urban Oasis in Los Angeles and used with permission. © All rights reserved.
The Silver Lake home of Rev. Malcolm Boyd, the Episcopal priest, author and gay activist, who passed away on February 27, 2015 is on the market and listed for sale as of November 2015 for $898,000. Boyd, who came out of the closet in 1976 at an Episcopal convention in Chicago, was shunned by the church for many years until he was invited to join the staff of St. Augustine by-the-Sea in Santa Monica by longtime friend and the church’s rector, Rev. Frederick Fenton.
The Silver Lake home that he shared with Mark Thompson, who became his husband in 2013 after Proposition 8 was overturned and same-sex marriages became legal in 2013 is filled with memorabilia of Boyd’s remarkable life and is a “must-see_ for anyone interested in the history of the Gay Rights movement. Given its history, the house would seem to be a prime candidate for designation as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. If you would like to see the house before its contents are moved, please give me a call, Michael Locke, Realtor and I would be delighted to accompany you on a visit. I may be reached at (323) 533-3161 or by email email@example.com.
The Boyd-Thompson house is located at 2517 Hyperion Avenue on the border of the Silver Lake and Los Feliz neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California.
Hyperion 4 is a collection of four new homes designed by Chasen Architects and located in close proximity to the action on Silver Lake’s Sunset Boulevard. The project’s terraced hillside offers panoramic views from the Pacific Ocean to Griffith Observatory. The homes are three stories with covered entry and garage on the first level, open plan living area with decks at the second level, and bedrooms on the third level. Roof decks are provide at the street facing lots, and private backyards at the interior lots. The folding wood French doors offer an expansive connection to the outdoor spaces. Residences start at $995,000 (1582 sq.ft., 2 bed + convertible den/ 2.5 baths/, 2 car garage and roof deck).
Located at 923 Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Please do not use this image in any media without my permission. © All rights reserved.
Silver Lake has played a seminal role not only in the development of the film industry, but remains home to some of the most iconic architecture of the 20th Century. Among the more neglected of its iconic architects—albeit in the more romantic than modernist vein that has garnered the most attention–is Armand Monaco (1895-1981). Monaco, whose name couldn’t be better suited to the grandiosity of many of his projects, designed one of Silver Lake’s most elegant villas and other lavish homes for wealthy clients and celebrities, as well as commercial projects, public housing and churches. Also, unfortunately, as Los Angeles’ and Hollywood’s shadow side seemingly went with the territory, Monaco’s extended family would be touched by tragedy and an early Hollywood scandal.
Armand Monaco was twelve when his Italian parents joined the massive turn-of-the-century immigrant wave to the United States, settling with their five children in Chicago. After graduation from Northwestern University, Monaco joined the architectural firm of Jarvis Hunt as principal designer. By 1921. he was working in Los Angeles briefly in the offices of Robert D. Farquhar and Myron Hunt, after which he formed a partnership with William Bordeaux. The new firm designed several opulent Italianate-style residences, including one for actress Betty Blythe in Los Feliz and the Villa Monaco in Silver Lake, which Monaco designed for himself, his wife Carlotta and their two sons Renaldo and Rudolfo Raymond.
Seeking more creative self-expression, Monaco branched out on his own in 1927, designing the original French Hospital in Chinatown (now the Pacific Alliance Medical Center) and in 1928 built a mansion in Palos Verdes for men’s clothing magnate John Joseph Haggarty. It wasn’t all high-end design for Monaco. In 1937 he was among a select group of socially-conscious architects selected to design the William Mead Public Housing Project; the project was the eighth in a series of garden apartments created to offer a higher quality of life to low income families.
Monaco resided at his Silver Lake villa until 1965. In 1967, Renaldo, Armando’s first born son and his pregnant wife along with another child were killed in one of Los Angeles’ signature hazards–a head on collision on the Interstate 5 Freeway. Compared to this horrific tragedy, the Hollywood scandal that rocked the family was a minor inconvenience; and here’s where the tale gets really bizarre:
Having achieved near god-like status among his myriad fans, Rudolf Valentino’s crypt at Hollywood Cemetery was visited by an estimated 100,000 people in the first two years after his death in 1926. One of his most ardent admirers was a fellow Italian immigrant, Angelina Coppola, who reportedly visited Valentino’s crypt several times a week, located a few blocks from the cemetery. When her baby boy tragically died soon after birth in 1928, the Coppolas named him, Rudolph Valentino Coppola, in honor of the film idol. Two years later, she sued Dr. Rodolfo Monaco, the child’s pediatrician for malpractice to the tune of $75,000.
The circus-like trial that ensued featured Angelina’s claims that she had been warned by Rudolf Valentino’s spirit of the child’s endangerment. But the highlight came when a woman from the gallery burst out, claiming to be channeling the spirit of Indian chief Gray Eagle, alleging that Valentino’s spirit had sent her to the courtroom to protect Angelina! After this latest fiasco, the judge granted a motion for a mistrial. A second trial two years later ended in full acquittal.
Whether one is beckoned to Villa Monaco by the ghost of Rudolf Valentino, the palatial Villa Monaco estate on Waverly Drive remains one of the grandest of Silver Lake homes.
Architect James H. “Jimmy” Garrott designed the split level house for himself and his wife Fanny in 1940 and the house next door (at #647) for Judge Loren Miller, an eminent civil rights attorney and close personal friend. Garrott was the second African-American admitted to the American Institute of Architects, after Paul R. Williams. His application was sponsored by Williams and Gregory Ain. He partnered with Ain on many projects; including an architectural office on Hyperion Avenue in Silver Lake. During his career he designed more than 200 buildings, including 25 churches. Among his best-known achievements are included the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company (with Louis Blodgett, 1928); St. Philip’s Episcopal Church (as Williams, Garrott & Young, 1929, a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #987); and the Mount Zion Baptist Church (1936).
The James Garrott Residence is located at 653 Micheltorena Street in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles
Modernist architect James H. Garrott designed the house for the eminent civil rights attorney Loren Miller and his wife Juanita E. Miller. The Millers were close personal friends of the Garrotts. Garrott also designed the house next door for himself, at 653 Micheltorena Street. Miller was appointed to the California Supreme Court by Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown in 1964; he served until 1967. He gained a reputation as a tenacious fighter for equal housing opportunities for minorities; arguing some of the most important civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was chief counsel before the court in the decision that led to the outlawing of racial covenant laws.
The Judge Loren Miller Residence is located at 647 Micheltorena Street.
Architect Raul F. Garduno designed the spec house with financial assistance from Peter D. Heiser, an associate he met while studying at the University of California between 1959 and 1960. The original building permit shows Heiser and Garduno as the original owners. Peter sold his Corvette, a gift from his grandmother and used the funds to purchase the lot and one other adjacent lot upon which the house was built.
The two bedroom, two bath home in 1395 sq. ft. is currently (July 2015) on the market listed for sale for $899,000 and described in the listing as “open-air, steel, glass, post and beam home with stunning views of the hillsides, vistas of the Hollywood Sign & Griffith Park Observatory. open-air, steel, glass, post and beam home is irreplaceable! Stunning views of the hillsides, & vistas of the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Observatory. Published in the L.A. Times Home Section, & in “Art and Architecture” 1961 edition, this mid-century is perched hillside with 500 sq. ft of decks surrounding the home. Acacia and Pine trees, & lush landscaping, give shade to the back. Walls of glass surround living room in an open floorplan. Designed with views & northwest breezes in mind. There’s even an atrium perfect for an outdoor Zen/yoga retreat. Bring back the master bath to its’ architectural significance with sunken tub & new fixtures. Asian style sliding closet doors throughout. Original walnut cabinetry, cooktop, dbl-oven, & built-in bbq. Bring your Eames chair, Barcelona table & move right in or restore it back to its’ glory”.
Located at 1954 Lucile Avenue.
I have passed this duplex a thousand times, and often wondered about its architectural provenance. I had assumed it was designed by Kemper Nomland Jr. who built several small apartment complexes in the immediate vicinity of a similar nature.
My curiosity was piqued when in a discussion with architect Raúl Garduño’s ex-wife Barbara Trembley, she indicated that she and Raúl lived in the “Rodney Walker Apartments” located at 21953 Effie Street after which I decided that I had to find out for certain the truth of the matter. After receiving a copy of the original building permit from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, I had the pleasant satisfaction of leaning that the Effie Street duplex was designed by none other than Carl Maston for Bob Stevens in 1953. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the Effie Street duplex is the only property designed by Maston in Silver Lake.
Maston designed more than 100 buildings during a long career, including private residences, apartment buildings, shopping centers and large-scale institutional projects. He is best known for his experimental work in designing garden apartments.
The Bob Stevens Apartments are located at 2953-57 Effie Street.
Private, gated collection of modern to to four bedroom townhomes under construction in Silver Lake, designed by Newport Beach-based KTGY Architects. We took the tour of one of the completed four bedroom units today. Prices range from the high $700s to over $1M depending on the size and location in the complex. The complex is described in the listing as “Brand new tri-level town home available for sale with move in scheduled for September 2015. Unit 304/10 is approximately 1,910 square feet, not including the almost 700 SF (approximate) roof top terrace. Residence 3 floor plan with dual master bedroom configuration and extra guest bedroom, total of 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. There is also a large flex space for a hobby room, den or office at the entry. Large kitchen island, modern frame less laminate textured cabinets with wood grain pattern and stainless steel bar hardware, high-efficiency under cabinet lighting, stainless steel sink, stainless steel GE Profile gas range, microwave and dishwasher, Quartz solid surface kitchen counter tops, designer selected interior finishes featuring hard surface flooring throughout living and wet areas, with carpet in bedrooms, custom backslash in kitchen and bathrooms, two tone paint throughout home, convenient interior laundry area Many more designer finishes. Spacious roof top terrace with peek a boo views. Home is close to pool, corner unit. Photographs are of the decorated model home for this floor plan. This community is gated with a pool/spa.
Located at 2753 Waverly Drive
Award-winning architects FUNG + BLATT designed the Jem Residence in a contemporary style, completed in 2014. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath house in 2170 sq. ft. most recently (March 2015) sold for $1,810,500 and was described in the listing as “built by the visionary development team of GROUND UP, Los Angeles this new construction, re-imagined modern home was conceived with a careful recognition and nod to the masters of mid-century and modernist architecture, while still achieving forward thinking new concepts. Walls of collapsible glass and meticulous lines blend a perfectly balanced indoor/outdoor living experience. The highest quality finishes on the market including Miele appliances, Gamadecor cabinets, Bisazza tile and 9″ German white oak flooring to name a few. This project hopes to set an exceptional high standard for new construction in modern homes”.
Located at 1475 Easterly Terrace.
Architect Don Holtz, Holtz Architects designed the contemporary style home in 2015. The three-bedroom, three-bath house in 2087 sq.ft. is currently (July 2015) on the market listed for sale for $1,299,000 and described in the listing as ” New architectural home on a tranquil street in the hills above Sunset Junction with incredible 180 degree views of Observatory, Silver Lake hills, and city lights. Spacious 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths, walk out patios, 2-car garage w/direct entry, and back yard with expansive trex deck. Custom high-end finishes throughout. Striking metal exterior siding and corner pocketing window system, pivoting metal and glass entry door, dramatic staircase with solid walnut treads, triple sliding exterior pocket doors on every level, gorgeous walnut floors, stained concrete entry area, and nest thermostat. Chef’s kitchen with separate full-size refrigerator and freezer, pro-rinse faucet, under-mount sink, quartz marble counter tops, and NSX 36″ professional convection 6 burner stovetop. Luxurious master suite with walkout patio, spa like bathroom with steam shower. This home showcases the best of Silver Lake: high design and finishes, tranquil street with incredible views, and steps from Sunset Junction”.