LAMA BLOG

Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: The Sturges Residence

February 15, 2016

There are many things to say about the George D. Sturges Residence, and over the past few months—speaking with collectors, design lovers, and the media as we prepare for our February 21st auction—I’ve said a lot. I’ve talked about its architectural significance: a jewel box masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright that shares characteristics with his greatest works, from the drama of Fallingwater to the dynamic, streamlined profile of the Johnson Wax Headquarters. I’ve admired the house as an icon of Los Angeles; a building that embodies the energy, ebullience, and even the “show-stopper” sensibility of our city. And I’ve spoken of its place in cultural history. When Jack Larson and Jim Bridges owned the house, they welcomed many of the major artistic spirits of the day, from painters and poets such as David Hockney and Frank O’Hara to innumerable Hollywood stars.

Grant Mudford, Frank Lloyd Wright Sturges Residence
Lot 86, Frank Lloyd Wright, the George D. Sturges Residence (1939). Photo by Grant Mudford.
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

But here I want to describe perhaps the most important aspect of the Sturges Residence: its atmosphere; the ambiance—what it is that gives the house its special sense of place. The feeling of being inside the Sturges Residence is a little hard to convey. It’s warm; it’s embracing. Inside the dark, wood-paneled rooms with logs stacked in the big brick fireplace, you experience a sense of serenity and security. You feel instantly at home.

Grant Mudford, Frank Lloyd Wright Sturges Residence
View of the George D. Sturges Residence (1939). Photo by Grant Mudford.
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Frank Lloyd Wright had a taste for the theatrical. He liked to guide visitors through narrow entries into rooms that seem to burst open. The ceilings in the Sturges Residence are high. (There are lower crossbeams that may have given the unusually tall George Sturges pause, but, speaking as a six-footer, they’re not a problem.) And then there is the terrace. Passing through a wall of windowed doors, you emerge on a wide, redwood and fir deck at the level of the tops of palm trees. The view is all sun and sky and sweeps down to the ocean.

Grant Mudford, Frank Lloyd Wright Sturges Residence
Interior View of the George D. Sturges Residence (1939). Photo by Grant Mudford.
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

For all that splendor, the Sturges Residence is modest. It is one of Wright’s Usonian houses—the only one in L.A.—dwellings designed for the middle class that provided comfort and quiet shelter while remaining in touch with nature. They offer a space in which the mind becomes uncluttered. It’s easy to see why creative people like Jack Larson and Jim Bridges—one a writer and actor; the other a film director—loved living in the Sturges House. You can think there. You can talk there. You can step outside, breathe deep, and feel cleansed. The Sturges Residence is inspirational. Just as Frank Lloyd Wright meant it to be.

Grant Mudford, Frank Lloyd Wright Sturges Residence
Interior View of the George D. Sturges Residence (1939). Photo by Grant Mudford.
February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

Please contact Barry Sloane (CalBRE # 1024594) at Sotheby’s International Realty, (310) 786-1844 if you would like to make arrangements to view the Property.

Lot Information:

Lot 86
SOLD TO BENEFIT THE BRIDGES/LARSON FOUNDATION
Frank Lloyd Wright
George D. Sturges Residence
Designed and completed in 1939
Registered as Historic Cultural Monument No. 577 by the City of Los Angeles in 1993
A single-story structure comprised of two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, living/dining area, a large wrap-around cantilevered patio, basement, and rooftop observation deck
Approximately 1,200 square feet
Located at 449 North Skyewiay Road in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

Land totals approximately 17,000 square feet
Sold together with two original dining chairs by Frank Lloyd Wright designed and constructed for the house in 1939, various built-ins and permanent modifications executed by John Lautner, all books and literature listed in “Illustrated” column, and a rare historical archive of vintage photographic prints, ephemera, copies of blueprints, and other items related to the history of the house from the collection of Jack Larson and James Bridges

Provenance: George D. and Selma Sturges
(acquired the land on September 1, 1938)

Edward Scofield (aka: Henry Schwartz)
(acquired from the above on September 11, 1951)

Elaine Pike
(acquired from the above on July 23, 1962)

Paul L. and Madeleine M. Garvin
(acquired from the above on January 16, 1964)

Jack Larson and James Bridges
(acquired from the above in November 1967)

Illustrated: California Arts & Architecture, April 1940. Cover, 14-15. Los Angeles Times, Home and Garden section (K), December 26, 1993. “Living in a Legend” by D. Sutro. Los Angeles Times, February 4, 1940, “Frank Lloyd Wright Expresses Himself.” Frank Lloyd Wright: American Master. K. Smith. 2009. 224-227. Book dedicated to Jack Larson and signed by Alan Weintraub, photographer. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Natural House. 1954. 92-95. Global Interior, vol #10. Futagawa. 1976. 66-71. Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph: 1937-1941. B. Pfeiffer. 1986. 215-227. Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses. A. Hess. 2005. Cover, 330-333. Book dedicated to Jack Larson and signed by Alan Weintraub, photographer. Wright-Sized Houses. D. Maddex. 2003. 4, 6-7, 17, 63, 116-119, 128. Signed by the author. Just Wright: An Architectural Memoir. B. Gregson and P. Swanson. 2010. 58-65. The Drawings of Frank Lloyd Wright. A. Drexler. Bramhall House. 1962. 164-165.

Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,000,000

February 21, 2016 Modern Art & Design Auction

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