Roundup of the 2009 Fall MAK Architecture Tour

This Sunday we had the pleasure of being invited by the MAK Center to tour all across our own neighborhood of Silver Lake and Los Feliz to tour seven historic homes by the likes of R.M. Schindler, Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood and Harwell Harris during the annual MAK Center annual fundraiser architecture tour. Below are some of the highlights of the morning to afternoon self-guided tour that allowed us a peek inside some local treasures…

Alexander House - Harwell Harris: the tour started with this nearby 1940-41 home whose charms laid mostly with its expansive views spanning westward. The interior 1,700 square foot home is characterized by several indoor-outdoor spaces, alongside a lovely fir wood band that runs across the ceilings of all the rooms of the two-story home.

Hansen House - Harwell Harris: with a clear view of the Silver Lake Reservoir and a tastefully decorated interior, this Harris designed residence was our favorite of all the homes we toured. Again, like his Alexander House built 10 years before, Harris artfully creates a blurring of indoor and outdoor sections that had us dreaming of the wonderfully parties we could throw in such a space. Loved the linoleum/laminate countertops, alongside the owners color organized bookshelves.

How House - R.M. Schindler: It's amazing to think this home was built in 1925. Schindler's love of the geometric shine throughout this Jenga-puzzle of rooms (some very small) that interconnect into a cohesive study of light and space. It would surely be a child's hide-and-seek dream. Unfortunately exterior photos were only permitted, so we can't share impressions of the perfect kitchen and breakfast nook. A shame, because the interior restoration with original furniture and built-ins were top notch (the property is on the market and owned by preservationist Michael LaFetra).

Moore House - Craig Ellwood: we were horrified overhearing one of the attendees refer to the Ellwood home as looking like a "trailer home" in disdain. It's anything but, unless trailer homes have become elegant expressions of pavilion style living. A sumptuous garden surrounds the flat/wide home, with a open living room at the heart of the space and bookended by the master bedroom on one end, and an office and entertainment room at the other.

Schrage House - Raphael Soriano: we're not going to lie, our favorite aspect of this home wasn't its dramatic outdoor covered entry, the sexy black kitchen, or the restored wood paneled ceilings, though all of these things impressed us during our visit to the residence that sits adjacent to Griffith Park's most eastern corner. No…it was the awesome backyard train set that brought smiles to every visitor's face, in a sense overshadowing Soriano's private pavilion architecture. Perhaps in the spirit of the indoor/outdoor nature of the building, people seemed most comfortable socializing at this location.

Avenel Housing Cooperative - Gregory Ain: It's now our goal to one day be able to live within one of these 908 square foot masterpieces of small space living (they've since been expanded further to about 1,100 square feet). The Cooperative was commissioned by a collective of WWII veterans as an option to typical suburban living. We got to peek inside 4 of the units (unfortunately our favorite did not allow photography). One of the original 1946-48 residents still lives there; we think we saw him in his backyard patio enjoy the Sunday paper and we envied him so.

McAlmon House - R.M Schindler: the last house on the tour and one bustling with energy, perhaps because it was a Schindler designed abode or because we were all getting hungry for lunch. The hilltop home has an amazing view out toward Glendale and the Los Angeles River (unfortunately, the 5 freeway brings in a noticeable din), while the architecture itself seems to mimic the hillside geography, with stairs and levels leading to intimate spaces indoors and outdoors. Some original custom furniture and a two sided fireplace were amongst our personal favorite details.

By the conclusion of the official tour, we were tired from braving the sometimes pushy throngs of 600 attendees all vying for the best view of all these notable historical architectural masterpieces (the crowd was strangely indifferent to one another, despite a shared affinity for history and architecture). But make no mistake, the MAK Center put together a great selection of homes for tour, with a clear and helpful guide/map, all cemented by a team of tour representatives that were more than happy to share a wealth of information about the homes, the owners and the history of our beloved neighborhood. We can't wait till the next tour already and hope some of you stop by the MAK Schindler House to take a mini-architectural tour, if you haven't already.

And be sure to check out Emily's Kitchn post highlighting California Modern: Five Small & Inspiring Kitchens from the tour.

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