"Your house will be worth more if you can keep it authentic and use the name of the architect," Krisel informed his new fans. "They're architectural properties now. A 'dingbat' that is just a tract house has no lineage. But a house that was done by an architect, and that in its day was something special but has become rundown, is worth restoring." No one argued.
Yerke began talking to newcomers, including David Glickman, an artist who works for the Getty Museum. "When we moved in, Ken was knocking on our door saying, 'Welcome to the neighborhood,'" Glickman recalls. "He walked right through our house, and said, 'This is what you can do, this is what you can't do.'"
The Los Angeles Conservancy played a major role in the resurgence by sponsoring a 'Spectacular Vernacular' tour of the Valley in October 2006, featuring two homes in Corbin Palms, including Yaryan and Yerke's.
Having your home chosen for the tour was akin to winning an Oscar. "Within our inner circle two people got chosen for the tour—and we were jealous, but we were also thrilled for them," says Stacey Margolis-Sigman, a psychologist whose home was passed over.
"When we had Los Angeles people come to our neighborhood, we were overwhelmed with pride, and we were just like, 'Whoo-hoo! Go modern!'" she says.
"Emily sold lemonade for 25 cents a glass that day," Tracy Bartley says of her daughter, "and she made over $50."
After the tour, more than 70 people gathered in the backyard of Robyn Van Dewark and Joe Moshier's house, which was on the tour. Krisel autographed brochures. "It was awesome. It felt like a block party in our backyard," Moshier says, adding, "It strengthened the movement."
The "movement," as Moshier calls it, is both social and architectural. 'Flamingo parties'—hosted by whoever places a pink flamingo outside their door—occur most Friday nights. Folks discuss restorations and house maintenance. There has even been talk of winning historic designation for the neighborhood—becoming a city historic preservation overlay zone. But that's a long shot, Stacey concedes, because so many houses have been modified.
So far, neighbors say, the group is made up entirely of people who live in the southern Eastwood Estates half of the neighborhood. The northern portion is separated from the southern by busy Victory Boulevard and a dedicated bus way.
"We don't even know them," longtime resident June Jones says of her northern neighbors.
"Yet!" Stacey adds. "The one tie that really binds us is the architecture," she says, "so, I think if we knew a modern family in that area, we would absolutely bring them into our fold."
But architecture isn't the only tie. Stacey and her spouse, Melanie Margolis-Sigman, often get together with other parents. The neighborhood has an increasing number of children, and parents put on a Halloween parade last year. "The children are like the glue that keeps the neighborhood together," Yerke says.
The nearby Calvert Street Elementary is a good school, but its playground is a "big old blacktop thing," according to June Jones, an original owner who has happily joined the rejuvenation crowd. It's also locked up when school is closed. Tracy Bartley hopes to change that by turning it into a community park. She's won some political support and is seeking funding.
More and more people find themselves attracted to the neighborhood, many because of the architecture, says Craig Terrien, a real estate broker whose moniker, ValleyModern, suggests his specialty. His renovated home is one of the neighborhood gems.
The Valley, Terrien says, is "attracting people who rent in West L.A. or on the 'miracle mile' and can't afford to buy there. There are plenty of negative things people say about the Valley, but it has nice tree-lined streets, it's less congested, and there are whole tracts of architect-designed homes." Throughout the Valley, he says, people are starting to restore modern tract homes.
The attraction for many newcomers is what attracted Corbin Palms' original buyers—the opportunity to own a stylish home at an affordable price. Corbin Palms was designed with economy in mind.