The Kurtz Residence

Category: Architecture
Published on Thursday, 07 October 2010 22:32
Written by Dianne Lawrence

In 1908 private developer George E. Van Guysling purchased undeveloped land which he subdivided and turned into Gramercy Park. It was bordered by the gated enclave of Berkeley Square on the north and the elegant mansions of West Adams Boulevard on the south.  This house, built in 1910 and currently owned by John Kurtz (whose birthday falls on the same date as the listing of the original building permit) was one of the first  built by Van Guysling in Gramercy Park.  The architect is listed as William F. Blaikie and the estimated original cost of the house was $6,000.

Although considered an Arts and Crafts Transitional house it bears Victorian design elements, such as a rotunda, leaded glass and window surround moldings. It also contains elements of the then modern, Arts and Crafts style, such as the stained redwood clapboard siding, post and beam constructed front porch, second-floor sleeping porches and curved dragon uplifts on the gabled roof and dormers.  The horizontality of the house design, more typical of Arts and Crafts style, distinguishes it from the more vertical Victorian styles.

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The first homeowners listed in the city directory at this address were Dr. John Harpster, his wife Mary (although being a woman, she was not listed in the directory) and their son Milton.  The house changed hands 6 times before 1919, when the Frances family bought the house, moved in and lived there until about 1950.  By 1970, after many physical changes, it had become a rooming house and was listed in the city records as having 10 bedrooms for rent.  A major restoration from 1988 thru 1989 returned the house to a single family home and to its original appearance.  The City of Los Angeles listed the house as an Historic-Cultural Monument for the City of Los Angeles #601 in 1994.