Help Save The Kronish House

courtesy of http://neutra.org

In another Mid-Century preservation attempt, the Neutra Institute for Survival through Design is attempting to save The Kronish House.

Word just received pressures us to provide info for the dismantling of the house as soon as 9/20, for demolition action week of 9/26! There’s no time to be lost; if this new plan has a chance to succeed! Get those letters going!

The original post from the Neutra Conservation page:

July 16, 2011 – Dion Neutra

THE KRONISH HOUSE, Beverly Hills, California, 1955-2011.
by Dion Neutra, architect

This weekend, during the celebration of the Neutra Practice at 85, it was learned that the little known masterpiece, the Kronish Residence, in Beverly Hills is slated FOR DESTRUCTION next week!

The owners have barred entry to our office for the purpose of last minute photos, and it appears likely that the destruction may take place behind locked gates as early as NEXT WEEK.

Because of its location in Beverly Hills, there appear to be no local preservation groups that can be mobilized to delay or save this singular example of the Neutra Practice.

Designed in 1955, I was project architect on this remarkable expression of opulence; one of the largest residential projects that our office produced in the southland, it is close to 7000sf. It was built for tract developer Herbert Kronish and his new English bride expressing some of the most unusual requirements such as mirrors on the ceiling of Mrs. K’s dressing room. Rare Carrara Glass lines the walls of the master bath, and there are many other unusual features.

The destruction of this will rank with the loss of the Maslon House in Rancho Mirage. In a similar scenario, a demolition permit was issued there with little concern for the historic nature of the house. In April of 2002, the house was destroyed without public notice or the ability to photograph the deed in action. The outcry following this resulted in national and international outrage that such a thing was possible. The City of Rancho Mirage has since instituted some controls to avoid a repeat. I think the City of LA also has some such controls now.

In 1972, the world famous Von Sternberg House of 1936, home for a time, of Ayn Rand, was also destroyed with only a weeks notice for similar reasons; wanting to no longer have to be a steward of this house. At that time, there was no City Monument program or other preservation organizations to appeal to.

It appears that Beverly Hills has learned nothing in the 40 years that have passed. After some months on the market, where the original listing characterized the property as a “tear down”, the owners have apparently given up hope that anyone will have the nerve to buy this and tear the structure down on their own. We understand a demolition permit has been issued with a 10 day grace period which runs out this next week. One prospective buyer had indicated interest in restoring the house, but time is running out.

Admittedly the $14M price tag for 2 acres of prime McMansion level land in Beverly Hills may be fair for an empty lot. To create it in this way seems unconscionable. At minimum photos should be taken of the destruction along with video to record the event. Do we have to call in the Navy Seals to swoop in via helicopter?

Would something like this be permitted in New England, England, France or other countries in Europe? We appear about ready to witness another tragedy; stay tuned….

Read the rest of the story (and more posts!). What a tragedy that an architect has to spend time trying to preserve their own work! Especially sad that there isn’t a preservation group in the area – does your area have a preservation group?

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