With Ayn Rand in the media conversation around Paul Ryan and the Republican convention, here's a look at the home that Rand used to occupy in Northridge. And what a house it was — if it still existed, the Richard Neutra design might conceivably be the most architecturally renowned home in the San Fernando Valley.
All steel, concrete and glass, with a moat encircling the house and a water-cooling system for those hot West Valley summers, the residence was built in 1935. Neutra was commissioned by the director and art collector Josef von Sternberg, at a time when the horse ranch district west of Northridge was home to a lot of Hollywood figures. “I selected a distant meadow,” von Sternberg said later, “in the midst of an empty landscape, barren and forlorn, to make a retreat for myself, my books, and my collection of modern art.” Julius Shulman photographed the home for Architectural Digest in 1947.
Rand moved in about 1943, while she was in Los Angeles working on her novel "Atlas Shrugged" and the screenplay of her book "The Fountainhead," whose architect protagonist Howard Roark was supposedly based in part on on Neutra. He used to joke that he contributed Roark's sexuality. Rand soon tired of the ranch life and moved back east.
The house on Tampa Avenue south of Devonshire Street was razed in 1971 for another tract of Valley suburban homes.