Casa de Cadillac
The iconic Mid-Century Modern Casa de Cadillac dealership 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.
In 2013, Casa de Cadillac was beautifully rehabilitated, preserving its Mid-Century Modern design while modernizing the dealership to meet contemporary needs.
Four years after its rehabilitation, General Motors once again attempted to demolish the showroom and construct a new dealership on its site. We are grateful for Casa de Cadillac’s owner who understands the architectural significance of the dealership.
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).
Built in 1948, and designed in the Mid-Century Modern style by Tommy Lee, 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.
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. Throughout the process Drake has stated his intent to retain Casa'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 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 remains committed to preserving Casa de Cadillac for future generations to enjoy this San Fernando Valley landmark.