Party House with MCM Roots

Modernist home by mid-century trailblazer gets price slash despite mindful restoration
Fridays on the Homefront
Designed by architect Eugene Kinn Choy, a mid-century modernist and the first Chinese-American in Southern California to enter the American Institute of Architects, for the Ira Brander family, this Hollywood Hills home once was a go-to party spot of tennis-playing barristers. Photo: Mark Singer Photography - courtesy Hilton & Hyland real estate
Fridays on the Homefront
Photo: courtesy Erica Kelly Martin Photography
Fridays on the Homefront
Photo: Mark Singer Photography - courtesy Hilton & Hyland real estate

A mid-century modern party house in the Hollywood Hills just got moved to the discount table, even though its roots extend from two trailblazing Los Angeles professionals.

"That was barrier-breaking," realtor Donovan Healey said of the architect of 7266 Outpost Cove Drive, Eugene Kinn Choy. Healey spoke of Choy as a mid-century modernist and the first Chinese-American in Southern California to enter the American Institute of Architects.

Healey and his partner at Hilton & Hyland real estate, Marcie Hartley, listed the property in November at just under $9.3M. In late January the price was dropped 6 percent to just under $8.7M.

"It's been a soul-searching experience," confessed the owner, Erica Kelly Martin, attorney, photographer, and heir to a minor Hollywood landmark, built in 1959 and once photographed by Julius Shulman. "So much happened to me in that house…Plus lots of stories I can't tell, big parties."

Choy designed the house for the Ira Brander family, and though he struggled for recognition as a minority modernist in the mid-century metro, the Outpost Estates home became the go-to party spot of tennis-playing barristers.

Erica's parents, attorney Arthur Martin and Judge Bonnie Lee Martin, bought the Brander House in 1973 as her mother was breaking down barriers of her own. During 20 years on the bench, Judge Martin was the first woman awarded jurist of the year by the L.A. County Bar Association. Erica described her parents finding and buying the house for about $149,000.

"My mom wanted a tennis court. They wanted mid-century modern. My dad insisted on a pool," she explained of their search. "This was literally the only one."

The Martins loved the view of Hollywood and—sometimes—downtown from the property, promptly replacing the backyard rose garden with a poolside tennis court.

"They had a number of judge-and-lawyer tournaments there," the daughter recalls. "It's the perfect entertaining house, the perfect party house."

The L-shaped, post-and-beam home was originally 5-bed/5-bath over 4,259 square feet before a remodel made it 4 and 4 with a home office. The daughter spent most of 2017 restoring it with an eye toward its early incarnation.

"Anything that was original to the house and still there, we kept," she said, citing the terrazzo floors, Arcadia sliders, Crane faucets, and stately travertine marble fireplace.