Having lived here in Los Angeles for 19 years I have developed an appetite for architecturally significant homes. I consider them art pieces for the soul. I admire their clean lines and adventurous nature and give homage to their home owners and architects for they were pioneers of their day.
One home has always stood out to me; which is the Stahl House. I remember having a picture of it pinned to my bulletin board in my first real estate office. It was of course of the one Julius Schulman took in 1960 and regarded as one of the most influential architectural photographs of all time. I used to stare at the two wonderfully dressed women outfitted in cocktails dresses as seen through the floor to ceiling walls in this cantilevered building. The twinkling lights of Los Angeles played a major back drop to this iconic image. This photo conveyed a glamorous and rat pack type mystique that evokes that feeling of: Hey Hollywood! I’ve arrived!
I had the pleasure of seeing the home last night with Tom; one of the knowledgeable guides assigned to the house. I did the sunset tour so I was able to get the full benefit of seeing it through the different stages of light which I highly recommend. I learned of the story of the owners Buck and Carlotta who saw a piece of land on the top of the hill with an expansive view and despite the impossible nature of building a home on this un-level and precarious spot, they bought the lot and followed their dream. They spent $13,500 for the land and did the deal over a hand shake. That was a lot of money back then for the former Bears football professional, but they managed to get the funds together. To put it in perspective, there were homes not in the hills at the time going for about $8,000 that were fully completed. Buck built a model of a home he envisioned and got turned down by two architects that didn’t want to take on the risk. But this tenacious couple soon found Pierre Koenig who was daring enough to help them create the home of glass and steel perched on the hill. By the time they finished construction it ran about $37,500.
A lot of banks did not want to risk giving them a loan but there was one bank that said yes but on one condition…that it included a pool. The pool represented the classic amenity of a Los Angeles dream home. At first Bruce was not on board with the pool for he had young kids and he preferred a lawn, but eventually he gave in. The culmination of determination, talents and fate resulted in a revered home that resulted it being inducted in the Case Study #22 and in 2013 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The simplistic nature of the design of the home allow you to focus on the views. There is a respect given to the city as a whole and nothing is in the way to distract you. It is light and bright and has an open concept style. The pool features a catwalks to the home which are a practical consideration as well as a fun way to get to the front door without disrupting the lines of the pool. As the tour guide pointed out, there is a play in shadows and light while you are in the space which creates a beautiful interplay. The effect for me was calming and awe inspiring.
I couldn’t help but wonder if this home would one day be sold. I got the impression from an interview back in 2015 that perhaps Bruce; one of the children that now owns the place; that it may be on the table. He said: “Although, I do encourage people to see the house sooner then later. Nothing goes on forever.” I’m sure they have received offers on it already and we’ve all seen some pretty significant numbers on some Los Angeles sales here to date. What price do you think would do it? I am glad I had the chance to see it and recommend that you do to. It’s the perfect snapshot of a bygone era.
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Photo credits: 1s photo: Julius Schulman. Other photos: Shawn Ferjanec
(note: photos for Stahl House to be used for social media only and not for sale or for profit). Please note you can only use a cellphone when at the property.