In the late 1930s, modernist master R. M. Schindler designed two apartment buildings in Silver Lake for Anastasia Bubeshko and her daughter Luby. The clients wanted a home that would also provide rental income, as well as living spaces that were flexible enough to be re-arranged as needed in the future. Schindler responded with a vision of a “Greek hillside,” a cohesive collection of five units that could be divided into seven. Each unit was unique and connected to the outdoors. Two later alterations, also by Schindler, allowed the units to be subdivided in different ways.
This rare example of multi-family housing by Schindler remained in the Bubeshko family, and home to Luby, for sixty-five years. The apartments served as a gathering place for artists; sculptor Gordon Newell created the decorative caps on the garage walls of one of the buildings, and architect Gregory Ain was once a tenant.
By 2005, when the time had come for Luby to sell the property, the buildings were remarkably intact yet showed the signs of deferred maintenance and decades of transient tenancies. Many potential buyers discussed extensive remodeling. Fortunately, Luby ultimately entrusted the property to a young family who would sensitively rehabilitate the buildings and live in one of the units. Before even submitting an offer, the potential owners met with architects and began researching the property, studying Schindler’s original drawings, correspondence, notes, and sketches for the project.
The project team followed this scholarly approach throughout the rehabilitation, analyzing building systems and structures, the condition of materials, and Schindler’s subtle use of color. They also took a restrained approach, being careful not to overdo it and to leave as much original material and finishes intact as possible.
With a tight budget, the team recreated Schindler’s original details and color palette using standard, economical, natural materials—as Schindler himself had done nearly seventy years before. The owner and architect directly oversaw all of the work. The client used his own experience with historic structures to complete much of the work himself, and he trained painters and craftsmen in specific techniques.
The result is the rescue and revival of a unique resource that tells an important part of Los Angeles’ story. The project also illustrates how individuals can make significant contributions to the cultural life of a city through tenacity, creativity, and devotion.
Built in 1911 as the third home of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit in Los Angeles, this theatre at Sixth St. and Broadway, a work of architect G. Albert Lansburgh, is now the oldest remaining original Orpheum theatre in the country. Loosely styled after a Florentine Renaissance palazzo, the facade of this brick and concrete structure features terra cotta flowers, fairies, and theatrical masks illustrating the spirit of entertainment.