Frank Lloyd Wright's only Usonian-style home in Southern California was designed and built in 1939. It was commissioned by Lockheed engineer George D. Sturges and his wife.
In that year, Wright also completed two of his most famous and acclaimed projects: the Fallingwater residence and the Johnson Wax Headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin. He had started designing his first Usonian style houses a couple of years earlier. The Sturges Residence was his first Usonian house in California and the only one ever built in Southern California.
Wright assigned his apprentice John Lautner to oversee the construction. In a letter to Lautner, Wright wrote: "It is one of the simplest things we have done and one of the best."
The Sturges House is Usonian in style, uncluttered with only two bedrooms and one bath and less than 1,200 square feet. In fact, its 54-foot-long cantilevered terraces are almost larger than the living area. A roof deck was designed to take in the ocean views. In the overhanging pergola roofline, you can see similarities to Fallingwater.
The entry is through the living room on the east side, or through the small kitchen on the west. The open living room has a brick fireplace.
The Sturges family originally asked for a small house just big enough for two, thinking that Mrs. Sturges was unable to have children. Soon after they moved in, she conceived, and Wright altered the house plan to include a nursery. When a second child was born, they move around the corner to a larger residence.
More About the Sturges House - and More of California's Wright Sites
In 1967, actor and playwright Jack Larson bought the house. He is best remembered as "cub reporter" Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s Adventures of Superman television show. He purchased it with his partner James Bridges who directed the films Paperchase and Urban Cowboy. The couple hired John Lautner to oversee a renovation.
Bridges died in 1993 and Larson passed away in 2015. In late 2016, the house and its contents went up for auction; the proceeds earmarked for the Bridges/Larson Foundation. The furniture (including a pair of Origami lounge chairs designed by John Lautner) and artwork that included works by David Hockney and Andy Warhol found buyers. Despite the fact that more than a thousand people toured the house, no qualified buyer was found.
According to Zillow, the house sold for $1.85 million in December of 2016.
You can see some interior and exterior photos of the house (along with a discussion of its importance) at the LA Modern website. Or view a digitized version created as a student case study at the ASU School of Architecture.
What You Need to Know
The Sturges House is located at 449 N. Skyewiay Rd., Los Angeles, CA.
The house is a private residence and no tours are given. You can see it from the street, but the view looks up toward the bottom of the balcony.
More of the Wright Sites
The Sturges House is one of nine Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures in the Los Angeles area.
Wright's Usonian houses were designed for middle-income families, they featured indoor-outdoor connections and were often built in an "L" shape: Hanna House (which is based on an octagon), Sydney Bazett House, Buehler House, Randall Fawcett House, Arthur Mathews House, and the Kundert Medical Clinic in San Luis Obispo (which is based on a Usonian House design).
Wright's work isn't all in the Los Angeles area. The San Francisco area is also home to eight of them, including two of his most important works. You'll also find several houses, a church, and a medical clinic in some of the most unexpected places.
Don't be confused if you find more "Wright" sites in the LA area than are mentioned in our guide. Lloyd Wright (son of the famous Frank) also has an impressive portfolio that includes Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes, the John Sowden House and the original bandshell for the Hollywood Bowl.
More to See Nearby
If you're an architecture lover, check out famous Los Angeles houses that are open to the public, including Richard Neutra's VDL house, the Eames house (home of designers Charles and Ray Eames), and Pierre Koenig's Stahl House.
Other sites of particular architectural interest include the Disney Concert Hall and Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles, Richard Meier's Getty Center, the iconic Capitol Records Building, and Cesar Pelli's boldly colored geometric Pacific Design Center.