Open House Obsession: Mid-Century Gem In Encino, $1.8M

By Philip Ferrato

Built in 1959, this elegantly low white stucco home is the work of Cliff Burlew, a Valley architect about whom little is known, and according to a vague obituary, he also worked in film set design. Commissioned by one J. Reed Gattman, the house presents two very different faces– walled, austere, and slightly theatrical from the street, and open to a pool set in a lush landscape at the rear.

In apparently (mostly) original and outstanding condition, the 4-bed, 3-bath is being offered through deasy penner podley at $1,795,000 via the real estate auction platform plumBid, with open houses June 1st and 2nd, June 4th, and June 7th, 8th, and 9th from 2:00pm-4:00pm each day.

Defined by graceful, low massing and a sweeping overhang that joins the garage to the house, the only decoration on the street facade is a subtle pattern on the fascia board– except for the doorknob, to which Burlew gave a collar of mother-of-pearl and brass. There are no visible headers, so throughout the property, windows and doors extend to the ceiling.

What We Love: The influence of the great emigre German Modernist Erich Mendelsohn, especially in the incredibly slender pilotis that form the long rear loggia. Hugely influential, Mendelsohn left Germany for London in 1933, going into into partnership with another influential exiled modernist, the Chechnya-born Serge Chermayeff. Mendelsohn would arrive in the US in 1941 and taught architecture at UC Berkeley. Postwar, he designed a number of well-published projects with simple massing and long, open loggias– like the Russell House in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights– before his death in 1953.

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