Model Mid-Century La Jolla home receives historic designation
By Pat Sherman
A Mid-Century Modern residence on Rue de Anne was one of 10 “Case Study Houses” to be granted national historic designation in July, thanks to the efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit similar to San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organisation and the La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) that works to recognize, preserve and revitalize historic architecture and cultural resources.
Eight of the other homes designated in July are in Los Angeles County, and one is in Ventura County. As part of the effort, an additional home on Rue de Anne in La Jolla was listed merely as “eligible for designation.”
“Case Study 23 was the only case study project in San Diego County,” said LJHS Executive Director Heath Fox, who alerted La Jolla Light to the designations. “There were three houses built in Case Study 23 (on Rue de Anne) — A, B and C. The house that got designated is 23C; 23B was not nominated because it’s been changed too much and the owner of 23A didn’t wish to pursue designation, so it got a ‘determined eligible’ status.”
Fox said the Case Study Houses, commissioned by Art & Architecture magazine from 1945-1966, and designed by notable architects of the day, were “prototype houses for neighborhood development” to accommodate the influx of soldiers returning home at the end of World War II.
“The task was to design these houses in the modern style using what were relatively inexpensive industrial materials,” Fox said. “After World War II there was a severe housing shortage, and this was a way to kind of jump-start that.”
In the spring edition of LJHS’s Timekeeper magazine, historian Carol Olten writes that the La Jolla Case Study homes on Mt. Soledad were designed by architect Ed Killingsworth and made their debut in 1961, winning prizes for their style.
“They were designed to be a ‘triad’ of houses, each related to the other with clear glass panels reaching from floor to ceiling, maximizing their fantastic ocean views,” Olten writes. “Features of the case studies included reflective pools, interconnected courtyards to various wings and a pristinely sparse landscape of olive trees and ground covers to unite the project.”
Adrian Scott Fine, Director of Advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy, said the organization’s volunteer Modern Committee began discussing the designation effort 10 years ago.
“They have always been on our radar screen,” Fine said. “They were instrumental in terms of residential architecture during that period and moving forward.”
Fine said the homes were built to “rethink how people should be living … with interior courtyards and indoor-outdoor special relationships.”
In Olten’s article she notes that Art & Architecture publisher John Entenza, the mastermind behind the project, retired to La Jolla after leaving the magazine in 1962, residing at 840 Coast Blvd. until his death in 1984.
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