Craig Ellwood’s Kubly House in Pasadena is available for $4.25 million.
Photo: Jim Simmons

Restored Craig Ellwood House in L.A. Hits the Market for $4.25 Million

Completed in 1965, the Pasadena residence is an exquisite example of the architect’s uniquely breezy version of the International Style

Historical preservation tends to be a niche interest. But one landmarks-related news item out of Los Angeles this spring managed a rare pop-cultural breakthrough: Hollywood actor Chris Pratt—better known as Marvel superhero Star Lord—and wife Katherine Schwarzenegger—better known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter—purchased and swiftly demolished the 1950 Ellwood Zimmerman House in Brentwood, a masterpiece of West Coast Modernism by legendary architect Craig Ellwood.

The celebrity couple, who had shelled out $12.5 million for the 2,800-square-foot residence, were tight-lipped as to their reasons. The internet, however, was very vocal indeed, and a mini-uproar ensued as thousands expressed their disapproval if not quite their surprise.

If any one of those online preservations care to put their money where their mouth is (and have the funds to do it), another Ellwood property has lately come on the market that serves as a perfect showcase for all the Pratt-Schwarzeneggers were so eager to throw aside. Completed in 1965, the Kubly House in Pasadena is an exquisite, glass-and-wood essay in Ellwood’s uniquely breezy version of the International Style.

Working in wood and glass, Ellwood rendered a transparent horizontal box and elevated it like a pavilion amid gum and oak trees. Photo: Jim Simmons

The elevated post-and-beam residence embodies the architect’s vision of haute living in the Southern California sun—one he shared with illustrious contemporaries such as Gregory Ain and John Lautner. At the time, the aesthetic was “not taken seriously,” as the city’s great 20th-century architecture historian, Esther McCoy, once observed. Nowadays, it comes at a premium: the Kubly House is presently listed for $4.25 million.

The price tag is even more remarkable in view that the three-bedroom house’s original inhabitants had insisted on a strict budget. “It was originally designed to be built out of steel,” notes John Matthes, the listing agent from relators Crosby Doe Associates: the Kublys were academics, graduates of the Art Center College of Art and Design who went on to teach there and—in Mr. Kubly’s case—become president of the institution. With a lofty aesthetic vision, but limited resources, the clients obliged Ellwood to settle for the redwood that gives the house its organic atmosphere.

The light-filled interior has remained largely unchanged since its completion in 1965. Photo: Jim Simmons

That quality, and that material, are now highly prized, key factors in the current valuation. Another element is the sensitive restoration recently carried out by its previous owners (to whom Matthes, himself an Art Center alum, also sold the house two years ago), in collaboration with contractor Carl Bronson, who helped enhance the property’s livability while leaving its look unchanged. “They did all the right things in this kind of renovation,” says Matthes. “Most people don’t.”

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In fairness to the Vandals of Brentwood, Ellwood’s creations are not always easy things to keep up. “Craig Ellwood’s houses lasted as long as their owners’ fashion sense,” critic Paul Davies once wrote: the effortless ease of the Kubly House’s symmetrical, pavilion-like, 2,200-square-foot interior, and the fine detailing of its slender mullions and floating entry stairs, come at a cost, and all but oblige the occupant to live exactly the way the famous (and famously high-living) architect intended them too.

One can only hope that the next buyers have both the will and the wherewithal to pull it off, and that they keep the bulldozers at bay.

The Kubly House is listed with Crosby Doe Associates for $4.25 million. See more photos below. 

The Kubly House comes with a pool court in the rear garden. Photo: Jim Simmons

Mature trees dot the .6-acre site. Photo: Jim Simmons

The post-and-beam residence appears to float at night. Photo: Jim Simmons

One of the home’s three bedrooms. Photo: Jim Simmons

Cover: Craig Ellwood’s Kubly House in Pasadena is available for $4.25 million.
Photo: Jim Simmons


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