The House that Love Built - Page 2

New book details siblings' true-to-life tales of growing up in world-famous Stahl House
Fridays on the Homefront
Stahl House living room at night, circa 1960. Photo: Julius Shulman (© J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute - Los Angeles (2004.R.10)

One day, while he was looking through a magazine, a light bulb went off. "There, my father discovered Pierre Koenig's early glass-and-steel homes. So he had Pierre come up to the site. He was young, enthusiastic, hard-working, and brave, and said, 'I've gotta do this house!'"

Then Buck and Carlotta, who were on a strict budget, found a way to tip the financial scale bit in their direction with a promotional idea that they hoped would bring considerable attention to the project and all involved.

"My father approached John Entenza [editor of Arts + Architecture magazine and director of the Case Study House program], and asked if this project could qualify as a Case Study House," Shari says. "Pierre brought the plans to Entenza, and the program helped with the glass, materials, steel, and so on.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Parents Buck and Carlotta Stahl in the good ol' days. Photo: Stahl family archive

"When it was named Case Study House #22, the home became known to the world through the magazine. When construction was complete, Julius Shulman was hired to take the final photos."

Thinking back to that time, Shari adds, "We couldn't afford to go on vacations, but mom and dad made sure we enjoyed what we were doing. Mom was our 'taxi driver'—and because there weren't a lot of kids to play with in that area, we spent a lot of time climbing the hillsides."

There were tough times too, but the family endured. "You'll read in the book that we actually had to move out for a while, because, at one point, my dad couldn't afford the mortgage payment. So we moved into my grandmother's home, and my parents rented the house out.

"Everybody told us, 'Just sell it, just sell the house!'" Shari recalls. "But my mom said, 'Not a chance—we're not selling our dream home.' During that stretch, my mother worked graveyard shift, and my dad worked days, so my grandmother took care of us."

  Fridays on the Homefront
Shari and brother Bruce back then. Photo: Stahl family archive

When asked what makes the home, which is still owned by the Stahl family, so magical to her personally, you can hear the nostalgia in Shari's voice. "Christmases up there! My Mom made sure the house looked like Santa's Village. Between all the lights and windows, it's just infinity."

"We had a great childhood," added Shari, who lives today in Boise, Idaho. "And to this day I just love walking passed that carport door. It's very calming up there. And even though my life continues to change, the house stays the same."

For more on Shari and Bruce's life in the Stahl House, check out The Stahl House: the Making of a Modernist Icon.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Young Bruce takes a dive. Photo: Stahl family archive

Keep in touch with the Eichler Network. SUBSCRIBE to our free e-newsletter