222 E. Constance Ave.
Designation Status: Structure of Merit
Assessor Parcel Number: 025-042-002
Historic Name: Bell Residence
One-story, Mid-century Modern style residence. A long wood frame building with a low, side facing gable and terra cotta tile roof. The house has the low, horizontal massing of the Ranch type of house. The house visually striking with its bold simple form. It notably has an absence of historically derived forms and ornament, and the presence of functionally derived forms and features, straightforward construction and use of materials with stucco walls capped by a band of simple metal framed windows directly under a boxed eave and simple wood front door.
Architect: Richard Neutra
Architectural Style: Mid-century modern
Property Type: Single Family Residence
Original Use: Dwelling
The HLC designated the building a Structure of Merit on September 19, 2018 based on the following criteria provided by the Municipal Code, Section 22.22.040.
Criterion A. Its character, interest or value as a significant part of the heritage
of the City, the State or the Nation:
Nationally recognized architect, Richard Neutra designed the 1959 Mid-century Modern style building that is important to the heritage of Santa Barbara. The details that are found on the building constitute a resource valuable for its ability to exemplify methods of construction, craftsmanship, attention to detail and artistry reflective of the Mid-century Modern style.
Criterion D. Its exemplification of a particular architectural style or way of life important to the City, the State, or the Nation:
This style of architecture found its place in American post-war suburbs and flourished for several decades, with the height of the movement occurring in the 1950s. Mid-century modern’s strong influences are still present in home design today, and were greatly inspired by post WWII when spacious homes with sliding glass windows were favored to have easier access with the outside. The house demonstrates the clean, crisp simplified details of mid-century modernism.
Criterion F. Its identification as the creation, design or work of a person or persons whose effort has significantly:
This building is one of only three in the Santa Barbara area designed by nationally recognized architect, Richard Neutra. Neutra, famed architect of the early Modern style of architecture displays several of his trademarks in this design which include the emphasis on the horizontal massing, continuous windows and planar stucco walls. One of the most influential architects of the twentieth century, Richard Neutra helped define modernism in Southern California and around the world.
The Los Angeles Conservancy wrote the following discussion on Neutra:
Born in Vienna in 1892, Neutra developed an early interest in architecture, particularly the work of Otto Wagner. World War I interrupted his studies at the Vienna University of Technology. He served for three years in the Balkans, returning to Vienna in 1917 to earn his degree. Neutra’s desire to come to America was sparked by the stories of his mentor Adolph Loos and cemented after seeing Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1911 Wasmuth portfolio.
Neutra worked in Europe for several years and apprenticed with the great Erich Mendelsohn. After years of encouragement by friends including fellow Austrian R. M. Schindler (who had emigrated to the U.S. in 1914), Neutra moved to New York in 1923. He moved on to Chicago, spent several months in Wright’s Taliesin studio in Wisconsin, and arrived in Los Angeles in 1925. His wife Dione and son Dion soon followed.
The Neutras lived with Rudolf and Pauline Schindler at Schindler’s 1921 Kings Road residence. Neutra opened his own practice and soon won his first major commission—from one of Schindler’s clients, Philip Lovell. The 1929 Lovell House in Los Feliz was a great achievement in steel-frame construction, with living spaces seemingly floating above the steep hillside.
Unlike Schindler, Neutra was included in the pivotal 1932 MoMA exhibit on Modern architecture, further fueling his career. The same year, Neutra built his own home and studio, the Van der Leeuw (VDL) Research House in Silver Lake. After a fire destroyed the house in 1963, Neutra rebuilt it with son Dion using new ideas and materials.
His prolific career encompassed iconic residences, innovative schools and multi-family housing, civic and commercial projects around the world, and inspiring city and community plans, including an unbuilt plan for affordable housing in Chavez Ravine (now the site of Dodger Stadium).
Despite its international renown, Neutra’ s work has sparked intense preservation battles. An enormous outcry followed the demolition of his 1962 Maslon House in Rancho Mirage, and the Cyclorama Visitor Center at Gettysburg, designed by Neutra with Robert Alexander, was razed in 2013 after years of fierce advocacy. In 2010, the proposed demolition of Neutra’s 1955 Kronish House in Beverly Hills ultimately spurred the City of Beverly Hills to strengthen its preservation policies (which it has since weakened). The work of Richard Neutra continues to inspire design, debate, and devotion.
Criterion G. Its embodiment of elements demonstrating outstanding attention to architectural design, detail, materials and craftsmanship:
The house demonstrates outstanding attention to architectural design. Neutra’s design created a house that is visually striking with its bold simple form. It notably has an absence of historically derived forms and ornament, and the presence of functionally derived forms and features, straightforward construction and use of materials.
Historic Integrity: The building retains most of its original features and most of the surrounding neighborhood is intact so that it has high historic integrity of location, feeling, setting, design, materials, workmanship and association. The building can convey its 1959 original appearance.
“Richard Neutra” Los Angeles Conservancy. https://www.laconservancy.org/architects/richard-neutra