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Schindler's Van Dekker House About to Kick Off Its Comeback

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Check out the Van Dekker pre-deterioration here. It's been a year since preservationist Josh Gorrell raised the $580,000 to buy Rudolph Schindler's Van Dekker House (1939-40) from the heirs of the last and longest owner, who did little over the decades in the way of upkeep or alterations. Following a recent visit, we can provide an update. Most of the last 12 months have been spent dealing with dry rot and making sure the roof was rain-proof, now Gorrell and his team are ready to pull permits and get to the electrical and plumbing work. Because the original wood Schindler used was so strong, and because so little work was ever done on the house, the job isn't as hard as it might look. While built-ins or fixtures have been taken out in places, they were also usually left lying around, so the trick is matching up the pieces with their original homes. The only thing he might consider adding is a 1940s-style pool, he tells us. By the way, Curbed can confirm that the house does not smell like cat pee anymore.

The Van Dekker sits on a fairly new road in Woodland Hills, surrounded by stucco McMansions. It isn't a very typical Schindler--Gorrell sees Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in it and wonders if Schindler wasn't working out some of his issues with his former mentor (they fell out in the early thirties). Albert Van Dekker, who kept farm animals at the then-rural property, only lived in the house for a short time. Its longest owner was the novelist and screenwriter AI Bezzerides, who lived in the Van Dekker until his death in 2007 (his son continued living in the house until it sold). According to Gorrell, Bezzerides quartered a Japanese family in an area in front of the garage during the World War II internment.

Last year Gorrell told us that Richard Neutra's Von Sternberg, which was visible from the roof of the Van Dekker before its 1972 demolition, was the house that got him into mid-century modern architecture. With the blessing of Dion Neutra, Gorrell and his reno partner James Rega are now planning to recreate the Von Sternberg on land in Ojai. They also want to build the first ever Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed 50x50 House on land up in Napa.

And if he doesn't have enough going on, Gorrell is raising money for his Van Dekker restoration with a t-shirt line called Frank Lloyd Wrong. He predicts the project will take about two years, and then he'll move in.
· Van Dekker Archives [Curbed LA]
· Frank Lloyd Wrong [Official Site]