Open House Obsession: Raphael Soriano's Spencer House in Silverlake

Where: 3056 Landa Street, Silverlake
When: Sunday, March 24 from 2:00p, to 5:00pm
What: In 1937, Spencer Austrian asked architect Raphael Soriano for a simple flat for himself and above a rental unit. It was Soriano's first solo project after leaving Richard Neutra's office, and the total building costs were about $5K. Some 76 years and a few owners later, it's on the market for $1.249M. The current owners have done a great job of refining and refreshing the 2-bed, 2-bath house's old bones, taking liberties with the plan– the rental unit is now the living/dining/kitchen area while the upstairs living room has become the master bedroom– and installing stylish new bathrooms. Below, a contemporary view of the house from the rear, and the current state of affairs. The stairway is gone (the landing is now a balcony off the master bedroom) and a brise-soleil added to filter the sun, plus the door has been moved.

Inside, the kitchen and dining area:

The master bedroom, and the original top floor entrance to Spencer's apartment:

The house retains its horizontal bands of steel windows and sharp, crisp edges in stucco. Apparently the house once had a view of the reservoir before more houses were built and landscaped.
Downside: While Soriano's houses have suffered over the years, many have been restored and do come on the market from time to time. The c. 1940 Polito house above Sunset Boulevard just came on the market (not open this weekend!) and is a prime example of the architect's work (below) and a more sensitive restoration. Plus the current owner managed to slip an important LA amenity– a lap pool– in at the edge of the house, and the asking price is $1.895M.

The Spencer house probably presented more of a challenge to to renovate for "modern" living. It's also called the "Austrian Spencer" house because somewhere in the past, someone left a comma out.
More: Additional images at the listing link, top, and check out the Soriano archive at Triangle Modernist Houses.

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