Though now recognized as a hugely influential pioneer of the modernist architecture movement, during his lifetime, Irving J. Gill enjoyed an all-too-brief period of professional success before falling on hard times. By the time of his death in 1936 at the age of 66, the architect had been reduced to supporting himself by picking and selling avocados.
Gill remained largely forgotten until 1960, when his inclusion in architectural historian Esther McCoy’s seminal book, “Five California Architects,” sparked renewed interest in his work and a reevaluation of his legacy. Sadly, this much-deserved appreciation came too late to save the majority of the 350 or so buildings the ahead-of-his-time architect designed during his career, including what is considered his crowning achievement, West Hollywood’s Walter Dodge House, which was bulldozed in 1970.
That ignominious fate could have easily befallen a project Gill produced in Santa Monica in 1919, the Horatio West bungalow court, were it not for the efforts of a group of young preservationists who banded together in 1973 to purchase and restore the court, which had fallen into an advanced state of dilapidation and become a flophouse for junkies. Four years after that purchase, the court was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1979 was declared a Santa Monica Historic Landmark.
Located half a block from the beach, Horatio West consists of four townhouses arranged around a concrete driveway that leads to a pair of additional apartment units at the rear of the property. It’s pretty rare to see any of the townhouses offered for sale, but this week, the landmark complex’s Unit #2 hit the market for the first time in three decades.
Despite being over a century old, the home comes across as timeless, underscoring Gill’s professed belief that “the source of all architectural strength” could be found in a combination of the “straight line, the arch, the cube, and the circle.”
Within its 1,224 square feet are two bedrooms, one on the lower level, one on the top floor, two bathrooms, living and dining rooms, an updated kitchen, a sunroom, and an interior courtyard.
Architectural details include a fireplace with original art-tile surround, skylights, wraparound casement windows, bleached hardwood floors, and built-in cabinets, dressers, and drawers.
The townhouse is listed with Crosby Doe of Crosby Doe Associates with an asking price of $2.15 million. However, per the listing description, “ownership at the complex also includes a 1/4-shared interest in two rental units at the rear of the property as well as a separate single family residence.” Further sweetening the deal is the property’s Mills Act tax benefits, which will transfer to the new owner.