Case of the Gutted Landmark - Page 2

Historic 'Case Study' house is stripped to its bones over apparent foundation issues
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
More Bailey House photos from its beginning, 1958-'59. Photos: Julius Shulman - © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
Fridays on the Homefront
Classic Julius Shulman color image of the Bailey House from 1958-'59. Photo: © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)

A call to Haddawy's office regarding the home—which became a Los Angeles cultural monument in 1999 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013—was not returned. In his commission testimony, Haddawy vowed to restore the kitchen to its original yellow hue and restore some decayed water features.

Preservation architect Lambert Giessinger of the city Office of Historic Resources testified that although the kitchen removal had apparently overstepped the project's building permit, the city could not argue with the decision given the building's foundation issues.

"Certainly, the pictures are scary," said Adrian Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, who attended the meeting as well, and noted "a greater level of destruction than usual" in a phone interview this month.

"I think there's some unique circumstances that are driving this kind of intervention," Fine speculated, noting that the uniqueness of the modest-sized home means that there are no other sites in Los Angeles with which the project is comparable.

He added that although some conservancy staff are unhappy that the city is apparently "comfortable" with the work done so far, "it's not an ideal scenario for us to step into."

"It's kind of in their ballpark," Fine shrugged of the city. "It's gone through a higher level of scrutiny than most."

He also noted that whatever problems the foundation had when Koenig last worked on the house in '97 likely went unnoticed, adding, "It was looking at above-grade issues."

This is still small consolation for modernists throughout California, with one posting photos of the project on Instagram and despairing, "Drove by the Bailey House and only found her bones."

"So many eyes are on Case Study House 21; it's a beloved landmark here in Los Angeles," said Biondo of the controversy. "In preservation, we work very hard to preserve as much historic fabric as possible, carefully considering acquired significance and layers of time.

"I don't know what happened here."

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