Susana Machado Bernard House and Barn | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo courtesy Casa Libre

Susana Machado Bernard House and Barn

Dating from 1902, the Susana Machado Bernard House is one of the few residential works completed by renowned architect John Parkinson. Parkinson designed the home for Susana Machado, the daughter of Augustin Machado, who, along with his brother, laid claim to Rancho La Ballona, now Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, and parts of Culver City. Susana married a wealthy Swiss-French businessman, Jean Bernard, who left her with eleven children upon his passing. 

Clearly in need of a large property, Machado Bernard commissioned Parkinson, who designed a 10,000-square-foot mansion with thirty-five rooms. The home included a library, a drawing room, a gymnasium, a wine room, a billiard room, servants’ quarters, and a furnace room to heat the house. Machado Bernard lived in the house until she died in 1907, and the property remained in the family until 1962.

The estate features elements of the Gothic Revival architecture style, such as vaulted ceilings, finials, and curved walls.

At the time, Parkinson constructed the home for a mere $50,000. Despite the heavy and ornate features on its exterior, the interior has high ceilings and natural light. 

In 1979, the house was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #208 and added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is currently owned by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Inc. and occupied by Casa Libre/Freedom House, a program that shelters homeless minors. Since 2002, Casa Libre/Freedom House has worked extensively on the house. It has been renovated with updated plumbing, electrical systems, ADA compliance, and various safety systems.

Casa Libre/Freedom House
This nonprofit organization runs as an emergency, long-term shelter for homeless youths, including those who are immigrants and refugees. It works with them in the areas of educational testing, family reunification efforts, and leadership training. It is operated by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. Learn more on Casa Libre's Facebook page.

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