The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday added the Dion Neutra/Reunion House, designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra, to the city’s list of Historic-Cultural Monuments.
“I am proud to add yet another iconic Los Angeles location to the list of Historic-Cultural Monuments in my district, and to honor the Neutra legacy that is synonymous with Silver Lake,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said.
“At different times throughout their lives, both Richard and Dion Neutra, as well as their families, lived in the Reunion House, and both made alterations to the complex over the decades,” he said. “This unique circumstance in the Neutra canon enhances the singular significance of the Reunion House. I knew Dion Neutra for many years, and he was a beloved member of the community.”
The hillside residence, at 2440 N. Neutra Place in Silver Lake, was built in 1951 as a speculative home. It was named the “Reunion House,” as it was envisioned to be a house where grandparents would live and family reunions would happen, according to the cultural monument nomination form. Neutra would often create narratives for hypothetical clients while working on projects.
The Neutra family bought the home in 1963, and Richard’s son Dion lived in it from 1966 until his death in 2019.
Dion, who was also an architect and trained under Richard, contributed to the home by making several refinements and adding an apartment over the garage.
“Independently of one another, both Richard and Dion made minor alterations to the house throughout decades, a unique circumstance in the Neutra canon,” Barbara Lamprecht, the author of three books on Richard Neutra, said during a presentation before the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission on Jan. 21.
The commission unanimously voted to recommend the City Council add the Reunion House to the Historic-Cultural Monument list.
The 2,155-square-foot home, which is hidden behind dense plantings on the hillside, is “an excellent example of a single-family dwelling in the Mid-Century Modern architectural style, and a highly intact work by architects Richard and Dion Neutra,” the nomination form states.
“The property represents the progression of Richard Neutra’s innovative design concepts for small but flexible residential dwellings. Despite its modest size, the residence features many elements of Richard Neutra’s evolving vocabulary, including the use of contrasting glass and stucco planes, projecting beams extending beyond the building envelope and deep overhangs with strip lighting at the edges.”
The nominators also said the property remains highly intact and its integrity of location, design, setting, materials and workmanship g have been retained.
Richard Neutra has been hailed as one of the most important architects of modernism. He was born in Vienna in 1892 and lived and worked in Germany. He briefly worked for Frank Lloyd Wright following his arrival in the U.S in 1923. He died in Germany in 1970.
Dion Neutra was born in Los Angeles in 1926 and began training under his father when he was 11 years old. He studied at USC’s School of Architecture, where he graduated in 1950. He practiced architecture with his father and then independently. He died in Los Angeles at the age of 93 in November 2019.
The home was nominated by Raymond Neutra, the brother of Dion Neutra and president of the Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design.
“I just want to emphasize how the Neutra Institute hopes to use this historic monument, not only as an artistic object but also as a reason for beginning further conversation on topics that are important now, and this relates to multi-family housing and multi-generational housing and (accessory dwelling units) and also the housing of people as they increase in age and the ability to take care of people as they become ill,” Raymond Neutra told the commission.
“My brother Dion ended his life in this building and his wife currently is in hospice care, and this design that was done 70 years ago is wonderfully compatible for that,” he said.