Back in the late 1950s, Los Angeles landowner Ronald Buck approached self-taught midcentury architect Harry Gesner about the prospect of designing some dwellings for a series of steep, narrow — and supposedly unbuildable — hillside lots he had acquired in Hollywood Hills, high above the Cahuenga Pass. Always up for a challenge, Gesner came up with the idea for a row of small cantilevered, cabin-like structures that have since become known as “boathouses.”
Gesner’s first order of business: assembling a crew of Norwegian shipbuilders who had just emigrated to the U.S. to craft the homes, with the workers using hand axes rather than saws to complete the timber frames and woodwork. The result? Twelve compact, two-story dwellings perched atop interlocking pier supports. Almost identical, they come complete with dramatic clipped gable roofs, deep overhanging eaves, unpainted wood siding, wood-beam ceilings, walls of glass and balconies.
All of the houses rest on a single foundation, each on about 25 feet of land; and naturally, they all bear a striking resemblance to — you guessed it — a boat!
Through the years, the striking Hollywood Hills residences have made cameos in TV shows such as “The Kominsky Method”; they’ve also housed various celebs, from bathing suit designer Fred Cole to “The Alienist” actor Brian Geraghty.
Now, in what is said to be a rare occurrence, one of those boathouses has popped up for sale, asking just over $1 million. Listed by Jimmy Bayan of Keller Williams Realty Los Feliz, the place last sold for $452,000 back in 2011, and features two bedrooms and one bath in a little more than 1,100 square feet of living space.
Set directly off the street, the boathouse is fronted by an open carport; the front door opens into the second level. Inside, open-plan interiors are immediately highlighted by a TV-viewing platform accessible via a large shag-carpeted step. An adjacent gallery-style kitchen sports a slanted, sky-lit ceiling and refinished cabinetry, plus updated countertops, backsplash and stainless appliances.
From there, a dining area connects to a spacious living room boasting an exposed-beam trapezoid-shaped ceiling and fireplace. A wall of sliding glass doors spills out to a lengthy yet slim balcony offering panoramic San Gabriel Valley and treetop views.
A wood staircase travels to the lower level, which holds an office space with custom built-ins and jalousie windows, along with a primary bedroom hosting a platform bed nestled up to built-in shelves. A set of steps also heads up to a recently renovated bath equipped with storage nooks, and a period Heath Ceramics tile shower and built-in planter.