There are countless wood-sided and shingled bungalows across the Eastside that have been slathered in stucco to present a vaguely Spanish style or gutted to create loft-like interiors. It turns out this kind of radical makeover – which often draws the ire of historic preservationists – is nothing new. Take for example two Silver Lake homes from 1936 designed by R.M. Schindler, one of Los Angeles’ most highly regarded Modernists architects.
When he was hired by Victoria McAlmon, an educator and political activist, Schindler proposed a contemporary, International-style house for the top of a lot on the 2700 block of Waverly Drive where an old bungalow had been built sometime between 1911 and 1923. Instead of demolishing the old house, however, Schindler proposed moving it to another part of the lot and giving it an International-style makeover. McAlmon, who hosted such high-profile guests as Eleanor Roosevelt and Anais Nin, followed Shindler’s advice on remodeling the old house (pictured above). On Thursday, an application to declare the two Waverly houses a Los Angeles cultural historic landmark will be reviewed by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission.
The monument application describes how Schindler undertook this old house project:
The architect suggested using it for a tenant to offset Ms. McAlmon’s mortgage and moved the building down the hill, adding a living room, patio and garden, and put it on top of a three-car garage where he wrapped it in a de Stijl-like unifying plaster shell, forming a complex and deceptive building out of a bare bone bungalow that would ultimately match the main house, situated near the top of the steep bluff and overlooking Glendale and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Portions of the bungalow, including portions of the roof and apparently some siding and old windows (bottom picture) can be seen protruding from underneath the International-style skin created by Schindler.