Case Study Houses finally added to National Register

The Los Angeles Conservancy announced today that the National Park Service has listed ten of the acclaimed Case Study Houses around Southern California on the National Register of Historic Places, citing their historic and architectural significance. An eleventh Case Study house, in La Jolla, was determined to be eligible for listing but was not added due to the owner's objection. The homes added to the national register include Case Study House #22, the Stahl house in the Hollywood Hills above the Chateau Marmont Hotel. Number 22 was designed by Pierre Koenig and photographed iconically by Julius Shulman (and by LA Observed, above and below, with absolutely no redeeming artistic value implied.)

The designation back on July 24 followed nearly a decade of work by the conservancy's Modern Committee (or ModCom), the group said in its announcement today.

"We’re proud of ModCom’s perseverance in making sure these important homes received the group recognition they so richly deserve,” said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy. “Congratulations to everyone who has volunteered their time, effort, and expertise in this historic effort.”

Launched in 1945 by John Entenza’s Arts + Architecture magazine, the Case Study House program commissioned architects to study, plan, design, and ultimately construct houses in anticipation of renewed building in the postwar years. With an emphasis on experimentation and a goal of promoting good, modern, affordable design for single-family homes, the program helped to disseminate the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic through its thirty-five published plans, of which twenty-five houses (and one apartment building) were built in California and Arizona.

While the Case Study House program did not achieve its initial goals for mass production and affordability, it was responsible for some of Los Angeles’ most iconic and internationally recognized Modern residences, such as the Eames House (Case Study House #8) by Charles and Ray Eames and the Pierre Koenig-designed Stahl House (Case Study House #22), famously photographed by Julius Shulman.

Despite the clear significance and world renown of the Case Study Houses, their high profile does not guarantee preservation. Few of the homes have actual protections against demolition or excessive alteration. Since the nomination process began eight years ago, Case Study House #16 designed by Rodney Walker has been completely demolished, and two others have been altered to the extent that they no longer meet the requirements for designation.

“With so few Case Study Houses in existence, and a few owners who do not appreciate the homes’ cultural and architectural significance, we need to stay vigilant,” said Regina O’Brien, chair of the Modern Committee. “We are so delighted to have had a part in ensuring these homes’ future, and we thank all of the owners who were integral to the process."

Certain other Case Study houses, such as the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were not part of the latest entry. Per the LA Conservancy, these are the Case Study houses covered:

Los Angeles County
· Case Study House #1, 10152 Toluca Lake Ave., Los Angeles
· Case Study House #9, 205 Chautauqua Blvd., Los Angeles
· Case Study House #10, 711 S. San Rafael Ave., Pasadena
· Case Study House #16, 1811 Bel Air Rd., Los Angeles
· Case Study House #18, 199 Chautauqua Blvd., Los Angeles
· Case Study House #20, 2275 N. Santa Rosa Ave., Altadena
· Case Study House #21, 9038 Wonderland Park Ave., Los Angeles
· Case Study House #22, 1635 Woods Dr., Los Angeles

San Diego County
· Case Study House #23A, 2342 Rue de Anne, La Jolla, San Diego (determined eligible)
· Case Study House #23C, 2339 Rue de Anne, La Jolla, San Diego

Ventura County
· Case Study House #28, 91 Inverness Rd., Thousand Oaks

Previously on LA Observed:
View from Case Study House #22
Touring the sites of famous Julius Shulman photos in LA


LA Observed photos from 2009

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