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All Hands on Dekker: New Hero Needed to Save Old Schindler Fixer in Woodland Hills

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[Vintage photos courtesy of the Architecture & Design Collection, University Art Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara]

Looks like the long-running drama centering on Rudolph Schindler's Van Dekker House in Woodland Hills has been renewed once again. For those of you just tuning in, the Valley residence was commissioned in 1939 by Albert Van Dekker, a stage and screen actor whose best known roles include the titular character in 1940's Dr. Cyclops and evil villain Dr. Soberin in Kiss Me Deadly. Van Dekker sold the property in 1955 to Kiss Me Deadly screenwriter AI "Buzz" Bezzerides, who lived in/deferred maintenance on the house for more than fifty years, until his death in 2007. The seriously dilapidated residence was then placed on the market, arousing concern it would be demolished. Preservationists let out a sigh of relief in 2009, when the house was a) nominated for Historic-Cultural Monument status and b) purchased by a preservation-minded developer named Josh Gorrell, whose plan was to restore the Van Dekker properly, and then live it in himself. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans. The Van Dekker reappeared on the market this week, and while the only listing photos at the moment are pics taken during the home's vintage heyday, the copy notes that "major repairs are required."

Gorrell tells us that he re-listed the property because he's moving to the Bay Area. While this turn of events certainly falls short of the fairytale ending people may have gotten their hopes up for, on the bright side, the Van Dekker is no longer in danger of being demolished, having been awarded historic-cultural monument status in 2010, which means it's also eligible for Mills Act tax breaks. Additionally, during his period of ownership, Gorrell did complete two significant projects in the restoration process: As can be seen in recent satellite photos, the Van Dekker now has a new roof--the same green roll roofing (now discontinued, Gorrell informs us) that Schindler employed for his DeKeyser Duplex and Kaun Beach House. The future owner will also be spared the headache of dealing with the .47-acre property's elderly septic tank, as it's now connected to the city sewer system. On the not-so-bright side, whoever buys the 2,518-square-foot house will presumably have to pay cash. Last sold for $580,000, it's now asking $799,000.
· 19950 COLLIER Street [Estately]
· Van Dekker House Archives [Curbed]