This French Provincial style house by master architect Wallace Neff is an example of his late-career designs in traditional styles, which remained a requested alternative to modernism during the postwar era.
Located on a knoll in Bel-Air, the expansive property with city views to the south is bordered on three sides by the horseshoe curve formed by Chalon and Bellagio Roads.
Characteristic of the French Provincial style, the house features a steeply pitched hipped roof with lofty chimneys. The symmetrical façade features a recessed, central entry with polished white marble steps. The first floor contains numerous floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors that open to the loggia and outdoor spaces while second floor dormers with casement windows provide light to the upstairs rooms.
The interior contains several generously proportioned rooms, including the entry hall, with its curved staircase leading to the second floor, and the formal living room, with molded paneling on the walls and a carved marble fireplace.
The house was commissioned by Van Nuys orthodontist Dr. Burton Littleton Fletcher and his family and was built in 1963. Dr. Fletcher’s son, noted landscape architect Robert M. Fletcher, later designed the landscaped grounds for the 1.25 acre property. The lush landscaping was designed to frame a series of vistas and includes expansive lawns, a pool, and numerous species of mature trees.
The house remained in the Fletcher family until it sold in 2013 for $8.2M to Cashew Hill, LLC. The real estate listing from the 2013 sale documents the highly intact state of the house and landscape design.
Master architect Wallace Neff (1895-1982), who practiced in Southern California from 1919 to 1975, was known for his early adaptations of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, though he designed in various Period Revival styles throughout his career. His work ranged from elegant residential designs for the famous and wealthy, institutional and religious structures, and pioneering forms of affordable housing. Neff’s career and designs have been profiled in several publications and were the subject of a 1989 exhibit, “Wallace Neff 1895-1982: The Romance of Regional Architecture” presented by the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery at The Huntington Library.
During the early part of his career, Neff was associated with the California School of architects, including Myron Hunt, Reginald Johnson, and George Washington Smith, whose Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean designs advanced a regional style of architecture for California.
Neff established his own manner of design, distinguished from that of other local practitioners of these styles, and worked to capture the uniqueness of California as a place by using traditional influences in innovative ways. His creative approach included an eclectic use of detailing, design elements borrowed from other styles, and embellished traditional forms to add a romanticized quality.
Landscape architect Robert M. Fletcher (d. 1995) specialized in private gardens in Southern California. Born in Los Angeles, Fletcher received his B.A. in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley in 1977 and established his residential practice later that year. He taught at the UCLA Extension Program Department of Arts from 1981-1985.
As a member of the American Horticultural Society, Southern California Horticultural Society, The National Trust and the California Historical Society, Fletcher was also a speaker at many symposiums and professional meetings. His gardens were featured in numerous journals, including House and Garden, Sunset Magazine, Elle Decor and the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
In addition to his residential projects, Fletcher's commercial projects included the Ingram Paper headquarters and warehouse, City of Industry; Henry Company headquarters, Huntington Park; R.J. Plaza Building, Sherman Oaks; Plaza Hermosa, Hermosa Beach; Martin Luther King, Jr. Shopping Center, Watts; Manhattan Village Medical Building, Manhattan Beach; San Julian S.R.O., Los Angeles; The Beach Club, Santa Monica; St. Martin of Tours Church and Elementary School, Brentwood; Mark Taper Building, Reseda; and Westwood Place, Westwood.