Thanks to the ever-fabulous Curbed L.A., I was tipped off tonight that one of my favorite Wallace Neff houses, the A.L. Schoenborn Residence (1924) in Los Feliz has just come on the market for $2,750,000. This is a relatively early Neff and while it might not be one of his most famous designs it is a perfect representation of why I love the Spanish Colonial Revival style so much especially as interpreted through the genius of Wallace Neff himself. And the siting is exceptional too, visible but still private with second-to-none views. As usual, Neff was able to bring in all the beauty of Spanish Colonial Revival, the impressive woodwork, colorful tile and intricate ironwork all set against whitewashed stucco walls while still keeping the house feeling relaxed and informal. I’d like to think that the young Mr. Schoenborn (only 33 when he had the house built) had given Neff carte blanche to design the house just as Neff envisioned it. The architect used much of the Spanish design vocabulary here with a bold rotunda, arches of varying types, Monterey balconies, variegated roof lines. It’s simply a fabulous house and a unique treasure, not only for Neff but the incredible ironwork of Eugen Julius Dietzmann. It looks like there’s even at least one original Crane bathroom too.
I wanted to put up a post on the house because I noticed that there have been requests to see some vintage pictures. The good news is that there are some, the bad news is they are few, but it is at least a taste. We see Adrian has caught some heat for saying the house has been “bastardized.” Based on the photos it looks like the problem seems more with its current overpowering interior decoration than any irreparable structural muddling so it looks like the bones are still good. However, we stand by Adrian here @ Paradise Leased since any revision to us of a Wallace Neff original is a bastardization! Go ahead and have at it with the kitchen but touch ye not the work of genius elsewhere lest you be forever haunted by the ghosts of good taste past.
This great house is listed by the fabulously named Juan Longfellow and Louise Leach of Normand & Associates and has its own website with 57 beautifully done shots by Charmaine David @ http://www.4447cromwell.com/.
A little word on Albert Lawrence (“A.L.”) Schoenborn, the original owner/builder of 4447 West Cromwell Avenue. Born in Buffalo, New York on May 22, 1890, Schoenborn became something of a wunderkind in Los Angeles financial and investment circles during the 1920’s, founding the Wilshire Building & Loan Association by the time he was 32. After selling out to the State Guaranty Corporation in 1927 (of which he became vice president) Schoenborn also took on the vice presidency of the Pacific States Savings and Loan Company as head of its Los Angeles branch @ 6th and Grand. Schoenborn was also a pioneer in San Fernando Valley real estate development, buying and subdividing a number of Chatsworth-area tracts and maintaining a ranch (long gone) @ 21510 Roscoe Boulevard throughout the 1920’s and is accredited as the founder of “North Owensmouth.” While that name has vanished into oblivion, Schoenborn Street still runs through the Valley as a lasting memory.
No one will ever know for certain as to why, but on April 17, 1929, Schoenborn succumbed to toxic exhaust fumes in a garage in Sawtelle. While reports stated that he had suffered a nervous breakdown and disappeared from the house in a state described as “delirious,” no official determination of suicide was ever made by the County Coroner. It was believed that in his unstable condition his death might well have been accidental as much as intentional and therefore the cause remains “undetermined.” Schoenborn, who left behind a wife, Veral S. and a son, Larry, was only 38 years old.
Lastly, our intrepid scholar Dora Doubter has some, well, doubt about the assertion that this home was actually lived in by Wallace Neff himself. You can’t blame her, after all, it’s built into her DNA. It sure would be cool if it were true, but…she’s demanding proof. Anyone know the original source? Would love to confirm so she’ll stop fussing about and get back to reorganizing the garage where her services are most needed.
And a few more images by Charmaine David of the listing via the listing. Many more here.