Open House Obsession: In LA's Silver Lake, a Rare William Kesling House From 1936
What: William Kesling's 1936 Collins House, originally 2-beds, 2-baths with third story later addition, on the market about two months and asking $1.095M.
Kesling's houses from the '30s are much admired in Los Angeles. He worked as a draftsman for Rudolph Schindler and followed much the same path as an architect-contractor, but with less subtlety and skill. Most of his houses from this decade are stucco with industrial metal windows and pipe railing, and the Collins House in no exception, a classic Kesling design that bridges the gap between Streamline Moderne and Modernism. The result is a watered-down version of both– but not without a vintage Modernist charm.
What We Love: The kitchen has a period, utilitarian vibe, and its corner bay window is a signature Kesling detail, as is the machine-shop front door, the curved corners, and the wide-open living area. The entire house is oriented to the view of the Reservoir and mountains, and theoretically there's room for a pool on the street-to-street lot.
Downside: The third floor is a recent addition, and while it may have the best view in the house, it's not especially sympathetic and not even shown in the listing photographs. The ladder-like stair accessing it might be problematic, and it's possible the addition was not properly permitted construction– which can be a stumbling block with the mortgage company as well as proper permitting for future renovations. As for other complaints, the stucco looks a little gummy, the garage door needs replacing with a more sympathetic choice, and there's no easy access to the rear yard below the house.
Mark-Up: The last recorded sale was in 1995 for $223K, and while another Kesling house in WeHo sold recently for around $1M, this one seems overpriced. It's still worth a visit– if only for comparison– Silver Lake was a hotbed of progressive modernist design for an educated, middle-class clientele before and after WWII. Across the Reservoir, park your car and take this walking tour from Curbed LA down Micheltorena Street or head up Silver Lake Boulevard to have a peek at this unique assemblage of Richard Neutra Houses.