Real Estate Report: Live Like a Mid-Century Red Menace in Silver Lake



Los Angeles after WWII (and before air-conditioning) was a hotbed of both political radicalism and modern design. Sometimes they joined forces and experimented in “Modern” living. 


The Basics: A circa-1947 cooperative apartment, with two bedrooms, one bath, and two-car parking in the Silverlake/Echo Park area of Los Angeles and asking $729K.

Not So Basic: It’s a unit in the Avenel Homes. From the Wikipedia entry: “Of the ten original members of the cooperative, at least four were blacklisted or questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee, leading to the conclusion that the project was “a cooperative living experiment for a group of communists.” The complex of ten single-level apartments was designed by Los Angeles mid-century minimalist Gregory Ain for the group, all of whom were both progressive politically and interested in modern design.

With the resurgence in interest in both the neighborhood and its pedigreed architecture, a number of units have been sympathetically restored. This one, which came on the market yesterday, was recently restored by architect Michael Folonis, best known for big, sweeping projects in concrete and steel.

In realtor-code, “open windows” usually mean “no air-conditioning.” And this is no exception, plus the heat is supplied by gas-fired wall units.  Each original owner contributed $11K to build the project in 1947, roughly the equivalent of $107K today.

Folonis put down a grid of concrete blocks in the rear outdoor space, which looks like it’s landscaped itself with native grasses. Below, views of the main living space:

While Folonis didn’t keep the original cabinet work, he reproduced it closely and gave the kitchen some top-of-the line appliances. The new flooring is vinyl.

There’s an odd pass-through masquerading as a dining table with two chairs on each side. Below, the master bedroom, with more cabinets in lieu of closets and a sliding panel (not shown) to separate the two spaces if needed:

It’s hard to judge how much a beautifully-renovated and historic property— with no a/c, only one bath, no pool— should sell for if our expectations of how we want to live have changed. Maybe air conditioning and multiple spa baths are about to go out of style, making this is cutting-edge affordable housing once again? Listed by the eminent Crosby Doe, whose website is modernist real estate Porn 101 but which does not yet have the listing up. Check out the Redfin listing below for more information.

Listing: 2845 Avenel Street, Unit1/2, Los Angeles  [Redfin]