Lawrence and Martha Joseph Residence and Apartments | Los Angeles Conservancy
Lawrence and Martha Joseph Residence and Apartments
Photo by Rick George on Flickr

Lawrence and Martha Joseph Residence and Apartments

The Joseph Residence and Apartments is one of the most significant examples of Storybook architecture in Los Angeles. The sweeping shingled roofs, diamond-paned windows, and clinker-brick chimneys exemplify the fanciful Storybook style, which took inspiration from idealized interpretations of European cottages.

Nicknamed "the Hobbit Houses," the eclectic cottages were designed by Lawrence Joseph, an artist who briefly worked for Walt Disney Studios and later worked on classified aircraft design projects for the Lockheed "Skunk Works" facility in Burbank. Joseph redesigned an existing single-family residence and added two two-story buildings with multiple units. An expert carpenter and sailor, he also created nautically themed interiors for the three buildings. The apartments feature galley kitchens, vertical-grain boat plank flooring, and built-in furniture with using nautical hardware.

Mr. Joseph finished construction in 1970 but continued to tinker with the cottages until his death in 1991. His widow, Martha, was devoted to preserving her husband's unique vision and maintained the property in its original condition amidst commercial development of the surrounding area. The Conservancy holds an easement protecting integral landscape elements, as well as the exterior façade and interior features created by Lawrence Joseph.

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