Image courtesy Meyers. She says this is "probably a Julius Shulman image."
Raphael Soriano's Lukens House came on the market last week, along with pictures showing the havoc wreaked by years of vacancy. Laura Meyers, a journalist and preservation advocate who lives in West Adams and co-prepared the historic-cultural monument nomination for Lukens, fills us in on the house's history, its very recent history, and its potential future.
Who's selling the house? The seller is a court-appointed receiver. One of the owners also owns the neighborhood landmark the Fitzgerald House/Elegant Manor, which was also in bad shape when it went on the market in 2004 and again in 2008. In October 2006 the Lukens House was abated as a nuisance and taken over by Building and Safety. The owners will receive any profits from the sale.
What's it gonna take to fix this house up? Meyers says that the house "will need all of its plumbing, wiring, HVAC, and other systems starting from scratch," and adds that anyone wanting to do a restoration would need cash money, since she doesn't believe the house is lendable as is. The resources situation is cheerier. Meyers writes "The complete original blueprints exist, and are on file at CalPoly Pomona, along with the materials list. It was also completely documented, inside and out, by Julius Shulman and those photos also exist at CalPoly and at the Getty."
For extra history, Lukens shared a 1941 LA Times article titled "5 Rooms $5500," in which the author writes "All the necessary things are here--a radio for the news, a record player for symphonic music--all so concealed and inconspicuous that they are given no thought until one wants to use them. So complete is the room within itself that the addition of a few long low chairs and a low table were all that was needed to finish it."
Are there other options for the house? Meyers says that since "Lukens specifically chose this property" and because of the remaining bits of the Lindsay estate on the grounds (terra cotta walkways, staircases), the house would lose a lot of its significance if it were moved. A greenhouse from the Lindsay estate, which Lukens used as his studio, is also part of the sale and the HCM designation.
Meyers says she thinks it may be possible to build on the property, but it'll be tricky, since the house straddles two lots, which could complicate later subdivision. She writes "we in West Adams would prefer to see either a historic move-on of a smallish house to sit on one of the terrace levels, or a creative Modernist design to fit in on the terraces."
· Raphael Soriano's Jefferson Park Lukens House Needs a Savior [Curbed LA]