'Plywood Demo House'

'Art piece' with a colorful backstory—noted Neutra design makes splash on L.A. market
Fridays on the Homefront
Designed by architect Richard Neutra, the 'Plywood Demonstration House' of Los Angeles (pictured above) was part of a program in the mid-1930s sponsored by House & Garden magazine to promote different building materials. It is now for sale. All contemporary photos: Cameron Carothers

It may be that in 2021, nearly 60 years after architect Richard Neutra last built a house in Los Angeles, no architect's work makes a bigger splash in the L.A. market for homes that aren't mansions.

Now, a realtor with considerable experience selling those special homes has announced the sale of possibly Neutra's most famous creation, and the concurrent listing of another that he says had profound historical influence.

"I believe it was the genesis for the whole Case Study era," realtor Crosby Doe claims of his new listing, a two-bed, two-bath beauty adjacent to the Veterans Affairs Golf Course in the Brentwood Glen neighborhood of West L.A. The 2,257-square-foot home was listed for the first time since 1950 earlier this month for $4,975,000.

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Neutra built this house, at 427 Beloit Avenue, in 1936 as part of a program sponsored by House & Garden magazine to promote different building materials. According to Doe, the ‘Plywood Demonstration House,' as the Beloit property is known, was the only one of six in the program to feature modernist design. That style became the focus of the groundbreaking Case Study House program launched nine years later by John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine.

"Obviously, this had influence on John Entenza," Doe alleged of the house, which was photographed in 1936 by Julius Shulman for Architectural Forum magazine in what some sources claim was the famed photographer's first published work.

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A native of Vienna, Neutra moved to the United States in 1923 and first attracted widespread attention six years later with the International-style home he built in the Los Feliz area for health and fitness advocate Phillip Lovell. The Lovell Health House, as it became known, has been on the market for a year, but Doe said last week that an offer has been accepted and an escrow entered on the house that is set to close in late September.

"It's taken some time to find the right buyer," said the realtor, whose website lists the sale price as $9,975,000.

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