Another Neutra Faces Demo?

Selling of Chuey House ‘overlooks’ historic L.A. home in favor of property development
Fridays on the Homefront
Is architect Richard Neutra's Chuey House in the Hollywood Hills being primed for demolition? The positioning of the recent for-sale listing called the property "ideal
for a compound, providing a truly unique development opportunity..." But what
about the historic house itself—downplayed in the marketing photo above? This and other questions about the Chuey's future have been raising eyebrows up and down
the state. Photo: courtesy Hilton & Hyland realtors and Multiple Listing Service
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Two historical photos of the Chuey House circa 1960. Photos: Julius Shulman © J. Paul Getty Trust - Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
Fridays on the Homefront
Original owner Josephine Chuey, who passed away in 2004. Photo: courtesy Raymond Neutra

The breakfast eater with a sweet tooth always wants another Danish. The Los Angeles Conservancy and Richard Neutra's sons would settle for another Kronish, please. And more coffee.

The Kronish House on L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard represents a beacon of hope for those who value preservation of mid-century modern's contribution to contemporary life. This hope was brought to the fore again by the recent listing in the Hollywood Hills of "extraordinary contiguous lots, owned by the same family since 1954."

It just so happens that the two lots, listed together for $10.5 million, include the equally extraordinary Chuey House that Neutra designed and built in 1956 for a fairly extraordinary Los Angeles household. The fact that the Chuey House listing by Hilton & Hyland realtors at 2460 Sunset Plaza Drive downplays the house structure in favor of the land development and views has been raising eyebrows up and down the state.

Is Neutra's Chuey House being set up for demolition?

"It's gotten a lot of media coverage…where people are certainly outraged, for good reason," said Adrian Fine, advocacy director for the L.A. Conservancy, of the Chuey property listing. "I think that's more where the outrage is directed, that there weren't even any photos of the house."

"These contiguous lots are collectively ideal for a compound, providing a truly unique development opportunity..." listing agent Denise Moreno states blithely on the Hilton & Hyland website. She also warns, "All sales subject to approval of bankruptcy court."

Neutra built the two-bedroom house for Robert and Josephine Chuey, respectively an artist who taught at Chouinard Art Institute and a poet formerly married to architect Gregory Ain. Upon Josephine's death in 2004, the house was apparently deeded to family members who recently filed for bankruptcy.

"She was quite a character," recalled Raymond Neutra, one of Richard Neutra's sons, noting that he had dined with the Chueys at the house years ago and considered them personal friends. "It's very sad. It's a wonderful house."

"It's such a significant property in terms of Neutra's body of work," said Fine, citing it as exemplary of the architect's habit of designing homes to fit the client's lifestyle. "It's a house that was very much designed for artists, with the studio space built in."

"We need to find Michael Bloomberg or Eli Broad or somebody with $50 million they don't know what to do with," said Neutra's son and former partner, architect Dion Neutra, only partly in jest.

"I think it's possible," Fine said of the search for a preservation-minded buyer. "It happened with the Kronish House. It's happened with other houses."