Casa de Cadillac | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Casa de Cadillac

Casa de Cadillac, a car dealership that has been in continuous operation on Ventura Boulevard since 1949, is a well-known landmark of San Fernando Valley Modernism that has recently been restored to its original magnificence.

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.

 

Thanks to the building's current owner, Casa de Cadillac underwent a sensitive rehabilitation 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.

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

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Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

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