Casa de Cadillac

When the Conservancy learned of the renovation plans of this iconic Mid-Century Modern showroom in 2005, we worked with the dealership owner to save the showroom and preserve its character-defining features.

Place Details


14401 Ventura Boulevard,
Los Angeles, California 91423
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Property Type


Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy


The iconic Mid-Century Modern Casa de Cadillac dealership built in 1948 in Sherman Oaks first became threatened in 2005 when General Motors began to remodel showrooms across the country. When the Conservancy learned of the renovation plans, we worked with the dealership owner to save the showroom and preserve its character-defining features.

About This Place

About This Place

Opened in 1949, Casa de Cadillac has been in continuous operation on Ventura Boulevard and is a well-known landmark of San Fernando Valley Modernism.

Casa de Cadillac is an excellent and intact example of post-war auto dealership design. As a building type, auto showrooms have become vulnerable as dealerships have either closed or undertaken corporate rebranding that compromise the buildings’ original design. Recent losses include Lou Ehlers Cadillac (1955, demolished 2008) and Crenshaw Ford (1946, demolished 2009) in Los Angeles and Crestview Cadillac (1962, altered in 2012) in West Covina.

The building was designed by Randall Duell and Phillip A. Conklin to be Don Lee Cadillac’s Valley dealer, and the name soon changed to Casa de Cadillac. Its corner once boasted four other “Casa” businesses, from gas station Casa de Petrol to roadside stand Casa Burger, but today only the dealership remains. Duell was a Hollywood set designer as well as an architect, and his Casa design is certainly cinematic: the showroom’s double-height glass windows beckon passers-by to come check out a Cadillac, while the interior’s polished terrazzo floor glistens in welcome and a massive vertical stucco slab rises above the roof to announce its brand in white neon block letters.

Additional neon signage spanning the full length of the showroom is rendered in script that precisely matches that on the nameplate of a 1949 Cadillac. The interior of the building is oriented toward an outdoor lanai with planter boxes, accessed by sliding glass doors. The exterior planters are mirrored by others inside, lending the whole place a slightly tropical feel and more than meeting the Mid-Century Modern ideal of blurring the lines between inside and outside.

Our Position

Thanks to the building’s current owner, Casa de Cadillac underwent a sensitive rehabilitation in 2013 that removed inappropriate alterations and brought it back to its 1949 appearance. It is a remarkably intact example of Mid-Century Modern commercial architecture, and the continuing success of the dealership inside is at least in part a testament to the power of good design.

Conservancy staff met with the building’s owner, Howard Drake, who was responsible for a renovation project that both preserves and updates features of Casa de Cadillac. Throughout the process Drake stated his intent to retain Casa de Cadillac’s unique architectural character. As part of the project, the glazing along the front façade has been replaced. Previously the façade was altered following the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. The current project restores the original 1949 look of the front façade.


When renovation work first began, the Conservancy reached out to Drake and the office of Councilmember Tom LaBonge, in whose district the building is located. The owner credits a 2005 letter from the Conservancy stating the importance of Casa de Cadillac in helping him to negotiate with General Motors regarding the scope of renovation plans and proposed branding. Without a sympathetic owner in place who cares and understands what makes Casa so special, the building could have been radically altered and the features lost.

The Conservancy and our all-volunteer Modern Committee have long kept an eye on Casa de Cadillac, it was a featured site in two past tours offered by the Conservancy and its Modern Committee: “How Modern Was My Valley” (2000) and “Modcom: 20-20-20” (2004).

The Conservancy remains committed to preserving Casa de Cadillac for future generations to enjoy this San Fernando Valley landmark.


Casa de Cadillac rehabilitation in progress (2012) | Adrian Scott Fine / L.A. Conservancy
Casa de Cadillac | Courtesy of Casa de Cadillac
Photo by Brian Weed on Flickr
Casa de Cadillac 1959 | L.A. Conservancy Archives
Casa de Cadillac signage post rehabilitation | Jessica Hogdon
Casa de Cadillac post rehabilitation (2013) | Jessica Hogdon