In Laurel Canyon, Atomic Age modern with wild history lists for $4.5M

By Pauline O’Connor

You can find a property with an interesting history on the market in Los Angeles pretty much any day of the week, but very few are as fascinating as that of Laurel Canyon’s Wohlstetter House.

The International Modern-style home was designed by architect Josef Van der Kar in 1953. The son of Dutch immigrants, Van der Kar was a card-carrying Communist whose political activism made him a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee. The architect’s closest friends included fellow “radical” architect Gregory Ain and union organizer Henry Shire.

But surprisingly, Van der Kar’s inner circle also included neoconservative heroes Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter, a husband-wife team of foreign policy and nuclear arms strategists. A national security advisor to every president from Eisenhower to Reagan, Albert Wohlstetter was one of the inspirations for Stanley Kubrick’s nutty warmonger Dr. Strangelove.

To read full article click “Keep Reading” or visit their website here.

According to a 2011 feature in Modernism magazine, the Wohlstetters commissioned Van der Kar to build them a house after Albert served as vice president of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius’s General Panel Corporation, for which Van der Kar created experimental pre-fab housing designs.

The leftist architect built the military strategists’ home—complete with a special nook housing a direct phone line to the Oval Office—on the lot next door to his own, and the two families wound up becoming the best of friends. Other neighbors included legendary photographer Julius Shulman, who photographed the home, and renowned landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, who designed its lush gardens.

The Wohlstetter family owned the property until 1999, when it was sold to celebrity photographer Cliff Watts.

On a .38-acre lot, it contains a 2,700-square-foot main house with three bedrooms, three baths, movable panels, sliding glass walls, and two fireplaces.

Per the listing, “a newer guest house overlooks the giant koi pond and sleeping porch and has a bath and extra large closet.” There’s also a swimming pool with original sculptural benches, lounge area, and a “modern ramada.”

Asking price is $4.495 million.

You Might Also Like...
Recent Posts

What $875K can buy around LA

This midcentury residence in Glassell Park has lovely hardwood floors, walls of glass, and wood-paneled walls. The 1,782-square-foot home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms distributed across two levels, along with an airy living room framed around a freestanding fireplace. The house sits on a 4,651-square-foot lot, with multiple outdoor patios and a two-car garage. Asking price is $869,000…. Keep reading

Open House Obsession: Classic Post+Beam Revival in La Cañada, $4M

By Philip Ferrato Where: 5228 Escalante Drive, La Cañada Flintridge When: Sunday, October 15 from 1:00pm-4:00pm Asking: $3,995,000 What: A 5-bed, 5-bath Modernist composition in redwood, stone and glass, this c.2008 house can be forgiven if it looks c.1960. Deploying materials and technology in a way Mid-Century architects could only dream of, it’s an architectural tribute to the great California… Keep reading

Paul Williams midcentury modern in Inland Empire is a total heartthrob for $1.1M

By Bianca Barraga This Ontario house is a rare Modernist work of renowned architect Paul Williams, better known for his Hollywood Regency-style homes and sprawling villas (as well as for his popularity among celebrities and Hollywood elites). The Inland Empire residence was featured in (and on the cover of) architecture historian Alan Hess’s book Forgotten Modern: California… Keep reading