Rest in Peace: Homer Delawie (1927-2009)

Read Homer Delawie's Obituary HERE.

Monday June 29th, 2009

My thanks go out to the staff of Mingei International, participants and attendees to this Saturday’s symposium PERSPECTIVES ON MID-CENTURY CALIFORNIA DESIGN. It was fantastic to meet Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman as well as the exhibition’s curators, the folks that relaunched Heath Ceramics and of course Gerard O’Brien. While I missed the after-party Saturday night at The Pearl, it was a full, stimulating day of discussion about our region’s unique history and the byproducts from its mid-century design explosion.

As many of you know I am invested in the history and legacy of Craig Ellwood & Associates’ work. When an Ellwood designed structure is threatened, remodeled or a house comes up for sale, I take note. In March of last year Ellwood’s Johnson Residence (1953) at 1515 Tigertail Road in the Crestwood Hills neighborhood, reportedly arrived on the market, in restored condition, for $3.7 million. The house is now listed HERE for $2.795 million. Take a look at the early listing HERE and an update HERE.

Soon after they take down their current show “Carlo Mollino Interiors” Sebastian + Barquet London will present an exhibition of works by iconic Italian glass manufacturer Venini. Opening in July, the exhibition will present twenty works created between the 1930s and the 1970s, the result of the company’s successful collaborations with seminal modernist designers including Gio Ponti and Carlo Scarpa. The show will illustrate how Venini embraced modernist trends expressed in both art and architecture and how he effectively transferred them to glass production.

Great houses have great stories. Pierre Koenig's Case Study House No. 22 (1960) is no different. The family of the original tenants, C.H. "Buck" Stahl and his wife Carlotta, were just profiled by the LA Times HERE.

he Eason Residence (1965) by architect Cliff May, in Alvarado Estates, is on the market for the
first time. Offered at $1,495,000. Contact ModernSanDiego for more information HERE.

Wednesday June 24th, 2009

This coming Saturday, don’t miss the symposium PERSPECTIVES ON MID-CENTURY CALIFORNIA DESIGN between 12:30 – 5:30 pm at the Mingei. Presenters include exhibition curators Jo Lauria and Dale Carolyn Gluckman; Gerard O’Brien, owner of Reform Gallery in Los Angeles; Dave Hampton, co-founder of the Objects USA; and the owners of Heath Ceramics. A panel discussion with questions from the audience will conclude the program. Advance reservations are required. $25 members and students/ $35 non-members. Information: 619-239-0003, ext. 405

Ben Thorne's and Eliza Howard’s restored home is Los Angeles' best-known example of a modernist prefab house by the General Panel Corp. The design of which is credited to Walter Gropius (founder of the Bauhaus) and Konrad Wachsmann (USC’s director of the Institute for Building Research). Read more about the couple's restoration efforts of their home built by General Panel's Burbank factory -- formally the Lockheed plant for the P-80 Shooting Star fighter jet – HERE.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House (1924), perched on a Los Feliz hilltop, and backdrop star of “Bladerunner”, is up for sale for $15 million by the private foundation that has been restoring it. Read more HERE.

Over Fathers' Day weekend the Eames Foundation held a silent auction fundraiser, selling off 13 items including an overnight stay in the Eames Studio adjacent to the Eames House. Read more HERE and see the auction items HERE.

State historians, The Ohio Historic Preservation Office, and preservationists are turning their attention to mid-century Dayton. Between 1950 and 1960, 1.8 million homes were built in the state, including 127,000 in Montgomery County alone. Efforts are now underway to preserve the region’s significant architecture. Barbara Powers of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office will head the year-long study, dubbed “Ohio Modern: Preserving Our Recent Past,” documenting the historic themes and buildings of the mid-20th century. Read more HERE.

The architectural legacy of Columbus, IN is, once again, discussed HERE.

Accompanying their exhibit, MASTERS OF MID-CENTURY MODERNISM – Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman, The Mingei has launched HOLLYWOOD MODERN – MODERNIST SET DESIGN IN MID-CENTURY CINEMA. The film series includes:
July 2nd: Pillow Talk (1959).
July 9th: Our Man Flint (1966).
July 16th: The Party (1968).

Friday June 12th, 2009

Mingei International Museum will present a symposium, “Perspectives on Mid-Century California Design”, on Saturday, June 27 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Museum in Balboa Park. The program is offered in conjunction with its current exhibition, MASTERS OF MID-CENTURY CALIFORNIA MODERNISM – Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman. Reservations are $25 for members and students and $35 for non-members at 619-239-0003, ext. 405. Topics ranging from “The California Design Aesthetic” to “Heath Ceramics” and “San Diego Designer-Craftsmen at Mid-Century” will be presented by respected authorities including exhibition curators Jo Lauria and Dale Carolyn Gluckman, San Diego collectors and modernism website founders Dave Hampton (ObjectsUSA) and Keith York ( and the owners of Heath Ceramics, Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic. Gerard O’Brien, whose Reform Gallery in Los Angeles specializes in twentieth century decorative and fine art from the post-war period, with a concentration on California design, will present Julius Schulman’s photographs of the gallery’s 2005 exhibition “California Design 1956-1976,” and discuss the wide array of production and hand-crafted design that was part of that show. In addition, it is expected that Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman will attend with their daughter Laura Ackerman Shaw.

Monday June 8th, 2009

There’s a wealth of interesting homes for sale across the county. Drop us a line HERE if you are on the hunt for something cool.

In La Jolla there are several good mid-century homes on the market:
1034 La Jolla Rancho - $1.5M
2180 Calle Frescola (Designed by Homer Delawie/Lloyd Ruocco) - $1.9M
2382 Via Capri Court - $2.3M
1771 Colgate (Designed by Henry Hester) - $2.8M
215 Avenida Cortez (nice Cliff May influence) - $2.95M
469 Arenas (nice Cliff May style) - $995K

In the Pacific Beach area, there are several unique opportunities as well:
4906 Pacifica (Designed by Palmer & Krisel) - $850K
4957 Pacifica (Designed by Palmer & Krisel) - $1.3M
1648 Beryl (cool 1950 flat roof house) - $870K
2929 Ocean Front (Possibly designed by Russell Forester) - $3.1M
1060 Archer St (unique 1954-designed house) - $1.025M

In the College Area there are two early ‘60s tract homes designed by Palmer & Krisel that have just come on the market but details are not in yet.

In Point Loma we have found a number of interesting houses reach the market recently:
2960 Poinsettia (Attributed to Palmer & Krisel) $845-895K
905 Albion (Attributed to Richard Wheeler) $899K
3682 Liggett Drive (unique, designer unknown - $1M
639 Silvergate Ave (nice mid-century design) - $1.2M
3345 Lucinda (Designed by Robert Mosher) - $1.5M
1093 Sunset Cliffs Blvd (owner claims it was designed by a Wright apprentice) - $2.4M

Across the bridge in Coronado we found some great little charmers, we’re still investigating:
333 Glorietta Place - $1.35M
900 Pomonda (cool ‘50s cottage) - $1.38M
842 San Luis Rey (cool ‘40s hip cottage) - $1.925M

And in the bargain bin, we found the pictures of this place interesting:
23625 Mount Vernon - $45K

If you are looking for buildable lots, we’ve got our eyes on a few of those as well. Drop us a line.

Preliminary demolition, which the city initiated as part of its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, is under way on Chicago’s collection of buildings designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. The city intends to send 28 structures on the South Side Michael Reese Hospital campus to a landfill! The interior of one building was stripped this spring, and other features have been looted. Several weeks ago, a memorial plaque commemorating Gropius' participation in the project disappeared. A garden sculpture was also removed last month, presumably by looters. Visitors to the 37-acre campus in April watched city-contracted workers remove fixtures from a building and turn them over to a salvage operator. According to the city "no demolition has begun." Any items that were removed from the buildings in March and April have been returned or put in storage.
Read more HERE.

Weir Brothers: Jack and Larry Weir began building adobe homes in Encinitas in 1947

Thursday June 4th, 2009

John Edward Weir (June 5, 1923 - Feb. 27, 2009)

John Edward "Jack'' Weir, one of the founders of Weir Bros. Construction passed away on February 27th at the age of 85. And as expected, Modern San Diego was a day late and at least one dollar short of contacting the elder Weir to begin documenting the company’s efforts in building custom homes across the county. For decades, Weir Bros. specialized in custom adobe structures – some designed in-house (by brother Larry) while others would enhance the talents of local architects like Sim Bruce Richards who adored adobe when not building in redwood, cedar and mahogany.

Jack Weir was 12 when his mother passed away while giving birth to her sixth child. Growing up motherless during the Great Depression shaped his independent nature that would serve him well in life. As a teen he worked for a traveling summer carnival. At age 18, he joined the Navy and became an aviator during WW2. After the war, Weir and his wife Connie settled in Encinitas, where he ran a gas station and auto body shop with his brother Larry. He lived in the apartment above the shop in a small wood building that still exists across the street from Swami's sandwich shop.

After a large debt was paid with an acre of land on Idaho Street, Weir decided to build a home for his family on it. With a $3,000 loan and some old adobe bricks he acquired in another trade, he erected his first "mud'' house. Weir quickly sold the home for several thousand dollars, which he and his brother used to build six more homes on Windsor Avenue. Each was built with bricks made of sand and clay, mixed with water, and dried under the sun. By 1948 Weir Bros. Construction was up and running. In 1951, Weir moved to Escondido. There, he had access to a large supply of adobe at what is now Kit Carson Park. His company grew to 80 employees.

In 1988, Weir retired and turned the business over to his only son, Robert. The company now goes by the name of Weir Bros. Custom Homes Inc. and is located in Rancho Santa Fe.

In an effort to document the whereabouts of the early adobe structures (Weir eventually had to change the focus of his company toward wood and stucco construction when building codes and earthquake standards dealt a blow to adobe dwellings in California) I am soliciting any and all help from the public in locating and identifying structures. Drop me a line at if you know where a Weir Bros. adobe is.



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