Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940, a new 12-volume series by Marc Appleton and Bret Parsons, showcases the work of the Golden Era’s most important residential architects, featuring some of the earliest known photographs of the work of legendary names in architecture. The series is devoted to the era when oil titans, film industry moguls, bankers, and successful entrepreneurs who were new to the region sought to hire the most accomplished and talented architects they could find.
In the premiere volume, GORDON B. KAUFMANN, the authors feature the architect whose design for Greystone, the mansion he created for E.L. Doheny Jr. and Lucy Doheny, catapulted him to the top of his field. Kaufmann combined elements of English Gothic and Jacobean styles when he designed the Doheny residence. At the time, the home was the largest private residence in Southern California, a fitting 55-room manor for the son and daughter-in-law of the richest man in the United States.
Although his name has been lost to history except in the circles of architectural historians, Kaufmann’s stamp is all over Southern California. Greystone is far from his crowning achievement. GORDON B. KAUFMANN includes a detailed career biography that chronicles numerous residential projects Kaufmann designed, including homes for many legendary Los Angeles families, with names like Chandler, Adamson, Getz, Hampshur-Jones, and Janss, to name a few. In addition, Kaufmann designed Hoover Dam, the Los Angeles Times Building, Caltech’s Atheneum, Santa Anita Park, and other important Southern California landmarks.
The period from 1920 to 1940 was an era of incredible homes, homes that defined Los Angeles as a city whose architectural heritage was in the making. The very best building materials were available—none had yet been shipped away from the country to meet the needs of the World War effort. “Artisans were still crafting the best details from those remarkable materials; redwood two-by-fours, still measured two-inches by four-inches,” notes co-author/historian/realtor Bret Parsons. “These were the homes that made architectural history, yet few were properly documented.”
Co-author and renowned architect Marc Appleton of Appleton Partners notes of Kaufmann, “His great homes needed to be memorialized, since one-by-one they are disappearing. The masterpieces of the era must be documented—so that’s the purpose of the series Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940.” The authors’ premiere volume includes numerous of-the-era photographs that document the exteriors and interiors, as well as lists of previous owners (the current owners’ names are withheld for privacy concerns).
Researching Kaufmann’s life, co-author/historian Steve Vaught says he found the details of the architect’s projects fascinating. “His work became so renowned that he was equally sought after for residences and public buildings. He was hailed as a virtuoso of Spanish, Mediterranean, and other romantic revival designs, yet when the mania for such designs subsided, he exhibited the same masterly embrace of modern design.”
Parsons, who is director of the architectural division at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills, notes, “A Kaufmann home in Hancock Park recently sold for more than $15 million, and was only on the market a few days. Buyers have always been willing to pay a premium for the old-world craftsmanship and charm of a Gordon B. Kaufmann design.”