Craig Ellwood wasn’t always Craig Ellwood, but the Clarendon, Texas, native became renown under that moniker as he made a name as a premiere modernist architect. His homes, often considered works of art (and rightly so), are perfect blends of spare, midcentury German Bauhaus architecture and the more informal California sensibilities of the state he called home longer than the Lone Star State.
Born John Burke in 1922, his family left Texas and found themselves in Los Angeles by the mid-1930s. After joining the Army Air Corps in the forties, he, his brother, and two friends set up shop as contractors under the name Craig Ellwood. Not long after, Burke changed his name to Craig Ellwood, and began night classes in structural engineering.
He opened his own firm, and began to make a name for himself. Despite never having a license as an architect, he was a sought-after guest lecturer and continued to create residential and commercial masterpieces until he closed his shop in 1977 and moved to Italy. He died in 1992.
One of those masterpieces is The Smith House in Los Angeles. Built in 1958, it was restored this year under American Institute of Architects fellow (and former Ellwood associate) Jim Tyler’s guidance. It is now on the market.
“The Smith House continues to be a beacon in showcasing mid-century modern architecture,” said listing agent Frank Langen with Deasy Penner & Partners.
Since it’s construction, the Smith House has been steadily heralded as an important piece of American modern architecture.
“Periodically there comes to light a building that — whatever it’s other merits — seizes the attention by the way it exemplifies or dramatizes some aspect of modern architecture,” Architectural Review enthused. “Such a structure is the hillside house in California by Craig Ellwood.”
Built on a hillside in a T-shape, the vertical of the T houses the living and dining area, separated by a fireplace. That vertical gives such a dramatic view of LA and the Pacific Ocean that every mention of the home we found mentions the incredible vantage point for viewing the city and the Queen’s Necklace area of the Santa Monica shoreline.
And well they should, since the expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows provides a sense of floating over the city, and at night, it appears to levitate as the trees and vegetation around it retreat into the dark.
On either side of that impressive vertical are two wings with bedrooms in each one.
“The entrance hall, kitchen, and laundry room are set between the focal point of the plan,” Langen explained.
The 1,515 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home is listed for $3 million.