See a vanished gem

Hard to believe today, but where a typical faceless Northridge subdivision stands at 10000 Tampa Avenue used to be one of the Valley’s most celebrated architectural works. The home was designed in 1935 for director Josef von Sternberg by modernist Richard Neutra. All-steel and glass with rounded edges and a moat, it drew raves for Neutra and also made an inviting landmark for World War II pilots to buzz during training flights over the Valley. The home was razed in 1971 or ’72, and is largely forgotten.

Today’s West magazine in the Los Angeles Times runs a gorgeous photograph (page 9) of the von Sternberg home by Julius Shulman. The photo resides at the Getty, along with Shulman’s massive archive, and is not online that I can find. Shulman shot the photo in 1947, showing Neutra and the home’s then-owner, the writer Ayn Rand, on the private patio. A line of eucalyptus trees shades the grounds.

When von Sternberg owned the home, he filled it with artwork by Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Renoir, Seurat and Gaugin. His collection, which was displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1943, was probably the most important assemblage of art in the Valley. Rand bought the home to live in while she was in Hollywood working on the film of her novel The Fountainhead and while writing Atlas Shrugged. There’s another photo on pg. 93 of The San Fernando Valley:America’s Suburb.

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