The British Pathé has recently uploaded thousands of wild historic videos to their YouTube, including a 44-second, tantalizing introduction to this very cool, totally precarious-looking house hanging off a Hollywood hillside. "Faced with a building site that seemed suitable only for goats," the announcer says, homeowner Leslie Guthrie and his designer, Modernist architect Richard O. Spencer decided that a 60-foot wooden arch would do the trick. Notes a feature in Popular Mechanics from 1951, "running a big arch right through the house, two young designer-contractors were able to build a home on a clifflike lot offering a magnificent view from the Hollywood hills, and yet avoid expensive foundation work." Brilliant and seemingly terrifying. But Guthrie was one of the first engineering graduates from UCLA, according to NC Modernist Houses, and clearly knew what he was doing because the house is still standing today.
The house was a sensation when it was completed, garnering the attention of photographer Julius Shulman, that keen eye for incredible architecture, who photographed the house (and many other Spencer houses). The house has survived to be expanded upon and the trademark arch can be seen from the air today.
· Hillside House Hangs in Space (Dec, 1951) [PM]
· Richard Orme Spencer (1915-2000) [NCMH]