Nationally recognized historic home to be bequeathed to La Jolla Historical Society
A house in La Jolla’s Hidden Valley neighborhood described as “the most important single-family home in the La Jolla community” will one day become the property of the La Jolla Historical Society.
In a celebration Sept. 18 to welcome new Historical Society Executive Director Lauren Lockhart and bid farewell to her predecessor, Heath Fox, the announcement was made that upon the deaths of the current homeowners, Nancy, Joseph and Pamela Manno, Case Study House 23C will be gifted to the Historical Society.
“Of all the announcements I’ve made as executive director, this is the last and by far the most important,” Fox told the gathering.
The house, at 2339 Rue de Anne, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of only four houses in La Jolla with such designation.
Fox later told the La Jolla Light that the Historical Society currently does not possess any properties besides its gallery and office location, known as Wisteria Cottage. The hope is to use Case Study House 23C as “an educational and cultural resource for the community of La Jolla, the people of San Diego, the state of California and indeed the nation that has honored it on the National Register of Historic Places,” Fox said. Plans for how that will be done haven’t yet been decided.
“We hope it will be a long time [before we own the house], and we will use that time to do due diligence and look at best practices and the other models of what people have established to make the resource available to the community and to people who are in architecture and design and want to visit and learn from the house,” Fox said.
The Manno family has lived in the house since Nancy and Joseph bought it in 1974.
Speaking for the family, daughter-in-law Pamela said: “Case Study House 23C is a quiet masterpiece. It exemplifies the harmonious relationship between art, architecture and nature. It is a peaceful place that invokes mindful thought, creativity and well-being for our family. We consider ourselves to be stewards of the house and are confident the La Jolla Historical Society is committed to continuing the stewardship. We believe bequeathing Case Study House 23C to the La Jolla Historical Society will ensue the preservation of this special place while educating communities on the significance of historical architecture and art preservation.”
The Case Study House program, which ran from 1945 to 1966, was established by John Entenza, editor and publisher of Los Angeles-based Arts & Architecture magazine. Through the program, major architects of the day were commissioned to design prototype single-family homes in the modern style to test new ideas and concepts of plan, form and materials, Fox said.
“The goal was to represent models that could quickly and efficiently be used in residential development to address the postwar housing shortage,” Fox said. “The program became immensely influential in architectural design, and that is true right down to the present day.”
Through the program, 36 buildings were designed. Among them, 24 houses and one apartment building were constructed, mostly in the Los Angeles area.
The only project in San Diego County consisted of the three houses that make up Case Study House 23 — 23A, 23B and 23C, dubbed “The Triad.” The houses are next to one another on Rue de Anne. House 23C was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. House 23A is considered eligible for the National Register. House 23B has been renovated to the point that it is no longer eligible.
“The essence and spirit of the whole historic preservation movement was in the hearts of Nancy and Joseph long before this house was listed on the National Register,” Fox said. “And this is the Manno family legacy, one of invested, thoughtful and committed stewardship. Although we hope it is many years away, when the day comes that ownership of Case Study House 23C passes to the La Jolla Historical Society, the Manno family legacy of stewardship will come with it. This is a responsibility I know the La Jolla Historical Society will embrace with enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication. To Nancy, Joseph and Pamela for your faith, trust [and] confidence in our organization as the inheritors of your legacy, we are humbly and sincerely grateful.” ◆
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