Real Estate Report: In LA, Two Listings with Historic Cred


Signature works by great architects don’t always sell. Here are two properties designed by architect Gregory Ain— both with respectful additional work by two other eminent LA architects, Michael Folonis and Pierre Koenig— one for a radical collective in Silver Lake, the other a handsome house for progressive lawyer Ben Margolis, in Los Feliz.

The Basics: the first is a 2-bed, 1-bath renovated co-op apartment in Gregory Ain’s Ac.1947 Avenal Apartments, on the market in April, 2011 for $729K, which remains listed at $669K, and just appeared on Craigslist as rental for $2900 a month.

The second (top) is a house Ain designed in 1952 with a much bigger budget on a gated street, on the market for a hundred days, with the price dropped to $1.85M from the original $1,999,951.00 after it went “pending, looking for backup offers” once.

Not So Basic: The first is a unit in the ground-breaking (no pun intended) Avenal Apartments, a pioneering co-operative apartment complex commissioned and lived in by a group of Los Angeles radicals— Communists, Socialists and other progressive types— in the politically tumultuous post-war years.

According to an outstanding piece by LA Times architecture writer Greg Goldin, at least four of the Avenal residents were on Hollywood blacklists or investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the early ’50s. A few years ago, the unit was impeccably renovated by architect Michael Folonis, and we took a look around last April when it came on the market:

Meanwhile, over in Los Feliz (with a hat-tip to Goldin) we now know the house was designed for Ben Margolis, a lawyer who defended some of the Avenal residents, plus others, during the ’50s Red Scare both in the courts and before the House. His handsome, subtle house in the “Oak Streets” has been renovated and uniquely, a subsequent owner commissioned eminent mid-century pioneer Pierre Koenig to design the pool and pool house, below:

Built into the slope, the house is one story and open in the back:

We had a long look at the place back in June, and still go back to the realtor’s dedicated site for the occasional swoon. One of the things we love about Los Angeles— a place that seemingly has no history and constantly reinvents itself— is that it’s full of backward glances.

Listing: 2845 Avenel Street, #1/2, Los Angeles [Redfin]

Listing: 5786 Valley Oak Drive, Los Angeles [Redfin]

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