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CurbedWire: Van Dekker Residence Finally Sold! What Now?

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Rudolph Schindler's Van Dekker Residence has finally reached the end of its long and winding road to a sale, and is about to begin its long and winding road to restoration. The house in Woodland Hills will close this week after ten months on the market, some price chops, a couple of teardown offers, and a preservation kerfuffle. Sale price: $580,000, in an all cash sale. The buyer is architectural designer Josh Gorrell, and he's not, as previously reported, a collector of Schindlers and Neutras (he just has the one), but he does have a lot of experience restoring Schindlers and Neutras.

The Owner

Gorrell went to art school and studied fine art photography, but after college he started working with an architect and designing. That work led to work with a man named James Rega, who does collect Schindlers and Neutras, and Gorrell says Rega "brought him to "the wonderful world of Modern architecture." Rega became interested in Richard Neutra's Von Sternberg house, which was torn down in 1972. The plans for the house are in UCLA's archives, and they can't be traced, they can't even have a ruler laid on them. So Gorrell spent nine months hovering a ruler above the plans and recreating them as accurately as he could. Eventually Neutra's son Dion was impressed (or sympathetic) enough to give them copies of all the plans. And that's when they started getting really interested in preservation. Gorrell says he and Rega "want to try to save every one of these masterpieces." (Right now they're working on Neutra's Kun House.)

In February, Rega went to see the Van Dekker Residence when it first showed, and told Gorrell it "would be a good one for you," but Gorrell didn't think he could afford it. But when he heard there were teardown offers recently, he decided he had to make it happen. He raised the money, and shares ownership with investors.

The House

The house is in bad shape. It smells like cat pee. Gorrell says he went over and caulked the copper roof a couple days ago; he finished an hour before the rain started. The water's been turned off in the house for a year and a half, and the septic tank hasn't been serviced or pumped in 17 years. (Ew.) Everything in the house is original, but Gorrell says it's like a jigsaw puzzle, original parts have been moved to new locations. There are also drawings on the walls and some animals have made their ways in.

The Restoration

Gorrell and Rega's plan is to get the house plans from Schindler's archives at UC Santa Barbara and be as exact as possible in recreating them. Gorrell says they'll go "to great pains and expenses" to be accurate, down to using period screws from salvage yards.

Gorrell will live in the house, and he says he wants to have public showings for students and journalists, open the house to events, and work with the MAK Center.
· New To Market: Schindler's Van Dekker Residence in Woodland Hills [Curbed LA]