The George Sturges House by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1939
Construction / 1967 Renovation by John Lautner, AIA
449 N. Skyewiay Road
Brentwood, CA 90049
Offered at Auction, Estimated Value $2.5-$3 million
For more info, contact Ed Faktorovich – 323.270.9303 / Ed@figure8re.kinsta.com
Hey Frank Lloyd Wright fans, its finally happening!
For the first time in nearly 50 years the George Sturges House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Usonian-style home, is coming on the market! The home is part of Jack Larson’s estate sale, its late February auction date is right around the corner, and It. Is. HAPPENING.
To call the opportunity to own Frank Lloyd Wright’s Sturges House a “once-in-a-generation” event is to blatantly underestimate its rarity. Built in 1939 (in the same period as his masterpiece “Falling Water“) The Sturges House has only been purchased one time and has not been on the market in over 49 years, so it’s a really a “once in every few generations” event.
THE STORY OF THE HOME:
The pedigree of The Sturges House is amplified by it’s construction and renovation history. In 1939 the home’s construction was entrusted to a then-unknown design fellow at Wright’s Taliesin institute named John Lautner (cue dramatic music!). It was one of Lautner’s first high-profile construction projects and when Jack Larson purchased the property in 1967, Lautner returned oversee the home’s renovations in what can only be described as a true full-circle moment.
Jack Larson and his partner Jim Bridges lived in the property until Jack’s death in September of 2015 and were instrumental in making Brentwood Heights the Post-WWII Modernist Architecture hub it is today. For those that know anything about most Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the fact that Jack and Jim lived in the house all that time is, in and of itself, quite an achievement. Jack and Jim’s stewardship of the property gives the home the rare distinction of being one the few demonstrably “livable” houses that Wright ever designed. Unlike most of Wright’s homes – known for being visually remarkable but lacking in practicality– the Sturges house has proved itself to be a rare mix of both.
Additionally, the residence was one of the first of Wright’s structures to employ his Usonian design strategy (meant to be Wright’s take on an iconically American design) and it’s Wright’s only Usonian house in all of Southern California. Like Falling Water built a few years before, The Sturges House highlights Wright’s interest and mastery over cantilever engineering. Using Steel Beams to create a gravity-defying overhang to dramatic effect, the home’s structure seems to float off its hillside base. This technique seems to achieve something that should be impossible and thereby creates a kind of architectural whimsy.
The home has been described as looking like a ship that is actively docking into the hillside or a train entering an invisible tunnel. This mixture of movement and machinery is what makes Wright’s later-period designs so exciting. Combined with the the 1/4 acre lot in the heart of Brentwood on which this architectural gem is sited, the Sturges House represents a kind of perfect storm of architectural and practical interest that so rarely comes along and too good to pass up!
THE UPCOMING AUCTION
Per LAMA (the auction house supervising the sale): the home does need a lot of work, especially to restore the interiors. Given that, our advice would be to make sure your real estate representation is familiar with Architectural homes and hillside homes specifically. You should also make sure that your agents have access to architectural contractors that can help analyze and assess what work would be needed to go into restoration (hint: we’re available…).
But enough talk, ONTO THE PICS!
True to the philosophy of Wright’s Usonian Design style, the home is made of easily available “everyman” materials that are local to the build site – in this case California Redwood beams/siding, red brick, and concrete. The home’s relatively modest size – only about 1200 sq. ft – is likewise part of Wright’s “of the people” Usonian aesthetic.
What the home lacks in interior square footage, it makes up for in outdoor living space! Thanks to the huge floating overhang the home boasts a 1000 sq. ft. deck. Furthermore, the home is sited on a 1/4 acre lot – a pretty big parcel even in Brentwood heights.
The multi-plane softly geometric lines have an engaging interplay with the surrounding landscape without overpowering it–a classic hallmark of the Wright aesthetic.
This photo–taken in the late 70’s and after Lautner’s 1967 renovations–shows the home in a much younger light, but although the home’s wood siding and polished concrete may floors have aged a bit, this archival photo helps to give a sense of the home’s interior layout and roof structure. It’s a glimpse into the potential livable elegance that a restored Sturges House could achieve.
This photo (above) was recently taken and shows that while there is some discernable wear-and-tear, the Sturges House nonetheless retains it’s original charm and all the bones and beams remain – Wright and Lautner remain alive and well in its design.
Marked by Horizontal Lines and tons of outdoor living space, the home also boasts another piece of trivia – California’s first carport! The outdoor car storage structure has become one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most copied design inventions in the state!
Combining LA living at its finest with the cache of a home designed by America’s most iconic Modern architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s George Sturges house is the full package and a truly incredible opportunity to own a true piece of architectural history..
So…will it be you?
To Learn More About the Sturges House and the upcoming auction, contact Ed Faktorovich or email Ed@Figure8re.com.
Photos Courtesy of Daniel Soderberg and Grant Mudford
Listing Courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions & Barry Sloane of Soetheby’s International Realty