Exploring Residential Architecture with FORT: LA
Los Angeles is filled with unique structures whether they’re commercial or residential. The commercial buildings are easy to find but the residential take a little more work when they’re tucked into neighborhoods that encompass a 469 mile radius. Luckily, FORT: LA has taken that work on and created a series of architectural trails to help the public discover the area’s unique residences. Of course, I had to follow one of these trails myself and one day headed out on an architectural adventure.
FORT: LA stands for Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles and was formed to “promote stronger civic identity among and cohesion between the many urban villages that make up Los Angeles County by celebrating, studying, preserving, and increasing access to the historically and architecturally significant homes of Los Angeles.”
In support of this goal FORT: LA introduces a new curated trail guide once a month to their email subscribers. Simply sign up and every month you’ll get a brand new trail delivered to your inbox for the low, low price of…free. Each month’s trail has a different theme curated by an area expert and includes an illustrated discovery guide and a handy dandy map to direct your route. Current available trails include Small Neutra Houses, South LA Garden Apartments and Witch Houses. The latter particularly intrigued me and I chose it for my first FORT: LA experience.
The Witch Houses trail was curated by Amber Benson, author of the Witches of Echo Park Trilogy, and includes five unique homes that look straight out of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Covering ground from Burbank to the Hollywood Hills to Culver City I knew the experience would be an all day affair so I grabbed my favorite four legged friend and headed out for a day of adventure.
We started in the Eagle Rock area at the Egasse-Braasch House designed in 1923 by Jean-Louis Egasse.
Nestled in a quiet neighborhood it certainly stands out among its neighbors. Using my handy dandy discovery guide I learned the home was a redesign of an 1800’s farmhouse for the artist and pianist Constance Braasch and was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2013. In the guide I was also able to view historic and contemporary interior photos since the trail is strictly an exterior tour (don’t go knocking on any doors!).
Continuing on I came upon a group of houses I’d long admired – the Columbia Ranch Dwarf Houses.
You don’t know how many times I was caught rubber necking on Hollywood Way in Burbank trying to get a better look at these quaint cottages. Finally I was able to stop and take a closer look. There has long been an urban legend that these home were built for the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz but that’s not the case. Built between 1946 and 1951 they were simply small cottages built for the average citizen. Regardless of their history they’re some of the most unique homes in the LA area.
Despite having a focus on residential exteriors not all of the homes were easily visible from the road but this hardly mattered because along the way I happened upon other magical sites. A incredible view of the Hollywood sign? Check. The world famous Ennis House? Check. The Beverly Hills Witch’s House? Check.
In addition, most of the neighborhoods were extremely walkable making my co-pilot one happy (and tired) puppy.
Through their trails Fort: LA has come up with an ingenious way to promote the residential design of Los Angeles. Each month I look forward to a new trail in my inbox knowing I’m guaranteed to discover an abundance of unique architectural gems. I can’t wait to see where next month’s trail takes me!