Then & Now – 4447 Cromwell Avenue

Schoenborn 1A

The Schoenborn House in 1926. Original landscape design by the Beverly Hills Nurseries.


And today. Photo by Charmaine David via listing.

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.

Schoenborn 2


Charmaine David via listing.

Schoenborn 3


Charmaine David via listing.

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.

Schoenborn 4


Hey, they filled in the bookcase. Why dat? Charmaine David via listing.

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 @

Schoenborn 5A


Charmaine David via listing.

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.

Dora Doubter

I always try to see both sides, but I must verify.

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.


Charmaine David via listing.


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12 Responses to Then & Now – 4447 Cromwell Avenue

  1. Louise Leach says:

    The Chinese whispers started here: And after further research through the website we found additional facts.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Louise!!! Yes, it seems the source goes back as far as The Movieland Directory. That’s where LFIA got their info. E.J. is VERY good at getting it right and I suppose I should have just written him and asked him the source. As you can see by Michael Locke’s comment, even he is confused by the assertion however. Neff definitely did not live in the house in the 1920’s as it was occupied by the Schoenborns and he was well ensconced in his own great home in San Marino @ 883 Orlando well into the 1930’s. After he and Louise separated Neff seemed not to care about his domestic situation and just moved from one rented apartment to the next until many years later when he finally moved back into one of his own homes, the famous Bubble House. (Alson Clark and Wally Neff Jr. write about this in their book – Wallace Neff: Architect of California’s Golden Age). But whether or not he lived in it himself, as I wrote Juan, there’s no denying that it’s a fabulous house! I send you my thanks and best wishes for a super fast sale.

  2. Pingback: Then & Now - 4447 Cromwell Avenue | Longfellow & LeachLongfellow & Leach

  3. Smith Bros says:

    Beautiful property, they don’t make them like they use to!

  4. Pingback: Wallace Neff's Stunning Schoenborn Residence in Los Feliz Asking $5 Million - Emily Sang

  5. Pingback: A Spanish Colonial Revival Designed by Wallace Neff in California

  6. lawrence schoenborn says:

    my grandmother lived in the house untill it was sold in 1958

  7. Pingback: Before & After: A Classic Spanish Colonial Revival in California • blogbrown

  8. Rick Allen says:

    True, Neff never lived here. After he sold the Orlando Road house at auction in 1932 or 1933, he and his family lived in various rented houses throughout Pasadena, and he eventually left Pasadena (and his family, in those rented houses) and lived alone for years in rented apartments in the Hollywood area, only moving back to Pasadena after he retired – to share the Bubble House on Los Robles with his brother. Since he and Louise we’re never divorced, he maintained support for her for the rest of their lives, which added to his reduced circumstances throughout the rest of his career. At the end of his life, he was placed in a home for the aged; coincidentally, it the same home where his wife was also living. Informed of her death (right before his own), he remarked that “she was a good woman.” It seems their marriage had a touch of elitist convenience, since both of their families (the McNally’s and the Up de Graff’s) were socially prominent in Pasadena. Whatever their circumstances, it seems that their marriage was perfunctory and expected, and not based on true desire. Add to this the relatively early death of their daughter from the effects of alcoholism. Neff was not without some personal cache: it’s rumored he had an affair with Paulette Goddard, which was the reason why Charlie Chaplin didn’t hire him to design his house, and in the late 50’s or early 60’s he bought a Cadillac El Dorado, and then had the rear fins shave off.

  9. Chris King says:

    Hello Steve, excellent post and pictures. The ironworks were performed by my wife’s Great Grandfather Julius Eugene Dietzmann (Dietzmann’s Ironcraft Works). My wife Shannon Dietzmann, now Shannon King, and I have always been fascinated with his work throughout L.A. and most notably Scotty’s Castle and Forest Lawn Glendale’s massive wrought iron gates at the entrance. Again it is great to see the rich history of the property and thanks for an excellent post!

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