Raiders of the Lost Architect

Captivating post-and-beam by little-known SoCal modernist hits market for $1.9 million
Fridays on the Homefront
"I seem to have this knack for these mid-century modern homes with architects nobody has ever heard of," realtor Jennifer Parker-Stanton said of the beautiful 1971 home in Pasadena (above) she recently listed for sale at $1,899,000. A little digging led her to documentation about the architect, Thomas Diusmukes, and on an illuminating, sentimental journey. "It’s just a really captivating house," she said of the house. "I think it’s a real architectural treasure." Photography: courtesy Jennifer Parker-Stanton
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront

A handsome example of the mid-century post-and-beam construction widely taught at University of Southern California was listed for sale this month, and its availability prompted an epic search by the realtor for its history.

"I had never heard of him before and neither had a lot of people," realtor Jennifer Parker-Stanton said of Thomas A. Dismukes, AIA, designer of the 1971 home at 1615 Hastings Ranch Road in Pasadena. The four-bedroom, two-bath covers 2,460 square feet and was recently listed for $1,899,000, only its second time ever for sale.

Parker-Stanton is a senior partner who started in 2010 with Deasy/Penner & Partners, a Los Angeles County-based firm that lists many of the area's best modern-style homes. Consequently, she said, "I seem to have this knack for these mid-century modern homes with architects nobody has ever heard of."

Hence, she started her quest, a sort of 'Raiders of the Lost Architect.' She managed to find someone who had definitely heard of the designer: his son, Robert Dismukes. This outreach, combined with contact from the resident of another Dismukes home, launched the son on his own illuminating, sentimental journey.

"Almost all of the documentation about dad's architectural career had been discarded around the time that he passed away," the son wrote in a 24-page monograph covering his father's career and his most notable designs.

Dismukes (1926-1996) was born in Oklahoma but spent his teen years in Pomona, California, serving in the Army near the end of World War II. He studied architecture at Mt. San Antonio College and then USC before commencing a nearly 40-year career with successive offices in Covina, South Pasadena, and Pasadena.

His designs would include the still-standing pool house and angular band shell in Covina Park, the latter that was dubbed 'Covina's Hollywood Bowl.' A home he designed in Monterey Park was photographed by iconic architectural photographer Julius Schulman.

The house in the hilly Upper Hastings Ranch neighborhood of Pasadena was built for Darrell Ross, an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and his wife Lynn, a ceramic artist who installed a since-removed kiln downstairs.