Nov 6, 2010

Lee and Mary Blair's 1939 Los Angeles Home On the Market: (UPDATED)

I can think of an awful lot of people who are going to enjoy this.

The Hollywood Hills modernist home designed in 1939 by architect Harwell Hamilton Harris for Disney artists Lee and Mary Blair is for sale, listed at $725,000.
Harris worked for two of the greatest talents of the age and area, Richard Neutra and Rudolf Schindler, before starting his own firm in 1933.

The realtor's listing describes it as three levels "incorporating an entry, open plan living/dining area, bedroom, bath, and studio or 2nd bedroom and bath at the top". I think we know what the Blairs used the top floor for, and it wasn't a bedroom.

It's a wonderful space in a wonderful location, just what one would imagine for a couple like this. And it looks today much as it must have when they moved out, thanks to its current owner who obviously appreciated its value-sadly, not often the case in southern California.

Edited to add: an excerpt from Lisa Germany's book "Harwell Hamilton Harris"(2000):

Mr. and Mrs. Lee Blair were directors for the Walt Disney Studios who had been interested in a house by Harwell Harris since 1937. He had, in fact, designed a house at that time that was canceled due to an uncertainty in their work(of the five Disney clients Harwell had during these years only two would see their houses reach the construction stage). In 1939 they returned with a new lot and he started over again. This lot was extremely steep and Harris designed the tiny, one bedroom house with three stories sheathed in horizontal redwood siding. Each of the three blocks of the house rose another step up the hill. At its rear, each floor rested on the natural level of the ground and at its front it rested on the rear edge of the block below it. Thus, the second story used the roof of the first story for a roof terrace, and the third story used the roof of the second story for its roof terrace. So high, in fact, was the studio that the clients had a spectacular view of Los Angeles and even of the cowboy and indian movies being filmed at Fox Studios.
The Blair house followed all the rules of Harris' nine-point plan. The same finishes--grass matting, plywood walls and Celotex ceilings--were used thoughout, and each room had one wall of glass opening into a garden or terrace. This allowed not only for a more generous display of the floor but also showed the Alvar Aalto chairs and Harris-designed couch and dressing table to their full advantage.

A correction, and a note: the Blairs were not "directors" at Disney's in 1939. The Blairs' unbuilt property that fell through in 1937 was on Beech Knoll Road in Laurel Canyon.

Fellow Dreamworks story artist and author/illustrator Scott Santoro (who lives near the Blair's former residence and has seen the exterior) writes:
"It's the first time the house has been on the market since 1955. The lot is large, steep and rangy with a switchback stair to the front door. I'd hate to move things in and out of there, though it does have a funicular [probably what's more often called a hillevator-ed]. The garage sets into the slope and has a grass roof."

The images above are from the sale listing and are recent. Below are photographs taken both in the Blairs' time and today. The circa 1939 color photo of the living area features what looks like a watercolor by one of the couple near the fireplace. The chairs in the Blairs' living room are are by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto

Here are some views from the street of the Blair residence garage, the "hillevator" and exterior taken on November 6, 2010 by Scott Santoro. Thanks again, Scott:

Nov 5, 2010

There is only one Glen Keane...

As long as he's been working and as great as he is, he always seems to get better.
From the page about his upcoming Paris exhibition Nov. 10 through Jan. 8th, 2011 at the Galerie Arludik, here's a sketchbook drawing done in 1999. Click to see it properly.