The University of Southern California has sold a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the Hollywood Hills for $1.8 million with the condition that it be preserved.
USC sold the 2,884-square-foot Freeman House at 1962 Glencoe Way to Richard E. Weintraub, president and CEO of the Malibu-based Weintraub Real Estate Group, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The $1.8 million price tag was reduced because of estimated cost of repairs from an initial ask of $4.25 million in July.
The sale of the historic landmark comes with a conservation easement held by the Los Angeles Conservancy that bars Weintraub or a future buyer from razing the building or making additions deemed incompatible with its history.
The deal also allows educational groups or architectural tours access to the home four times a year.
The Freeman House, built in 1924, is one of four textile-block homes in Los Angeles designed by Wright. The structure features 12,000 blocks made from a mix of sand and Portland cement and embossed with a “Mayan Revival” theme.
The Freeman House rises from the hillside like an earthen temple at the end of a narrow winding street.
It 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 such as photographer Edward Weston, bandleader Xavier Cugat and choreographer Martha Graham, and Hollywood players such as Clark Gable.
They then donated it to USC in 1984, more than a decade after it had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The two-bedroom, one-bathroom 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.
Its 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.
Wright homes have come up for sale in recent years, including the Ennis House in Los Feliz, another textile block home that sold in 2019 for $18 million.
For Weintraub, a graduate of USC, the purchase is part of a long interest in early 20th century design. For now, he doesn’t intend to inhabit the house, he said. But once it’s restored, he hopes that it might function as a site for architects- or artists-in-residence, including musicians, composers and dancers.
“I’m passionate about architecture,” he told the L.A. Times. “That was what I wanted to be.”
The house, said Weintraub, “has to live the way it lived – it was a salon for intellectual passions. The arts in Los Angeles grew up around it.”
[Los Angeles Times] – Dana Bartholomew