Nestled amongst the trees atop a hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley, this woodsy hideaway was produced in 1939 by the brilliant sculptor-turned-architect Harwell Hamilton Harris. An alumnus of Otis Art Institute who began his architecture career as an apprentice of Richard Neutra, Harris designed the Cahuenga Pass residence for a pair of fellow artists, Lee and Mary Blair.
Considered one of Disney’s most influential designers and art directors, Mary Blair played an instrumental role in shaping the look of such classic Disney films as “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Peter Pan,” as well as that of the Disneyland theme park’s beloved ”It’s a Small World” attraction. No slouch himself, Lee Blair worked as an animator on several Disney masterpieces, including “Fantasia,” “Bambi,” and “Pinocchio,” and, during the relatively brief period when the Olympics included the arts in its competitions, took home a gold medal for one of his watercolor paintings in 1932.
A shining example of Organic Modernism, the redwood-clad residence was the lucky recipient of a meticulous, years-long restoration performed by designer David Brudnicki. Measuring in at a compact 1,254 square feet, it feels more expansive thanks to copious fenestration in a variety of forms — fluted glass, folding French doors, clerestory windows, and skylights. Responding to the steep hillside lot, Harris structured the home as a trio of stacked volumes, with the entertaining spaces (living room, dining room, kitchen) on one level, the main bedroom and bathroom on another, and a spacious studio/second bedroom on the third.
Notable original attributes include wood parquet floors, a sculptural brick fireplace, built-in cabinetry and furniture, soffit lighting, and folding room partitions. Each level features its own dedicated private outdoor space, ranging from a covered dining patio to a shaded rooftop deck to a terraced lounge with ping-pong table and suspended swinging chair. Not original to the property but certainly handy for hauling groceries, et cetera, is a funicular that runs from the street level garage up to the front door.