USC is selling its Frank Lloyd Wright home in Hollywood Hills

Freeman House listing comes after university sold its president’s mansion amid financial losses

The inside of the Samuel and Harriet Freeman House (USC Architecture / J. Paul Getty Trust)
The inside of the Samuel and Harriet Freeman House (USC Architecture / J. Paul Getty Trust)

Just days after unloading its presidential mansion for $25 million, the University of Southern California wants to sell another high-profile property: A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the Hollywood Hills.

The Freeman House listed for $4.25 million, a price that includes “many of the original furnishings designed for the house,” according to Deasy Penner Podly, which has the listing. The 2,884-square-foot property, which includes walls made of textile blocks, is on a hilltop at 1962 Glencoe Way. It was assessed in the last year at $687,000, according to PropertyShark.

USC said it was looking for “a conservation-minded buyer” who “can properly rehabilitate and maintain” the historic home, which is in need of repair.

USC’s School of Architecture called the home — built in 1924 — among the iconic architect’s “most interesting and enchanting small residences.” The design helped influence the development of Southern California modernism, the school noted.

The decision to sell comes as USC has been facing heavy financial losses because of the pandemic, and must pay $1 billion to thousands of women who were sexually abused by a former university gynecologist.

This month, the school sold its 14,000-square foot president’s mansion, a record-high price for San Marino. It was also $500,000 over the amount it listed for in February. The property went into contract shortly after listing.

USC previously listed the Freeman House in 2016, then pulled it from the market months later. The asking price at the time was unclear.

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The home takes its name from Samuel and Harriet Freeman, a Los Angeles couple with avant-garde tastes who commissioned the building for $10,000 after falling for another Wright property. For decades, the couple used the home as a cultural salon, hosting artists and various Hollywood players, then donated it to USC in 1984, more than a decade after it had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The Samuel and Harriet Freeman House (USC Architecture / J. Paul Getty Trust)

The home was damaged in 1994 in the Northridge Earthquake. USC, which has been using the building as an “urban laboratory” to study design and historic preservation, spent over $1 million in repairs, although the home still needs extensive renovation.

USC plans to include a conservation easement to protect the home once it’s sold. Listing agent Mike Deasy was not immediately available to comment.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home also has a touch of Hollywood history: Clark Gable once stayed there,  according to a Curbed that detailed the home. It’s also something of an architectural novelty, with two-story intersecting glass window panes and walls made from 12,000 concrete textile blocks depicting a “Mayan Revival” theme. It was one of four homes Wright built with the material because he was looking for a challenge.

“It was the cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world,” he once said of the material. “Why not see what could be done with that gutter rat?”

The home’s decor was designed by Wright and the famed modernist architect Rudolph Schindler, although a $200,000 cache of the furniture, including two of Wright’s famous floor lamps, were stolen from a university warehouse in 2012.

Numerous Wright homes have come up for sale in recent years, including the Ennis House in Los Feliz, another of the textile block structures, which sold in 2019 for $18 million; and a spiral-shaped home in the Arizona desert, which sold last year for $7.25 million.

But not all Wright houses — nearly 400 of the architect’s properties remain standing — command huge sums.

One home on Chicago’s South Side was on the market in early 2020 for just $175,000; in recent years, other Chicago-area Wright homes were selling at below-market levels, or even faced demolition.