Urban Warfare: Another Beloved Historic Beauty Destroyed by the Wrecking Ball

This is how this historic Tudor looked when they tore it down!

This story makes my blood boil.  A truly magnificent 1927 architectural showplace designed by architects Henry Knauer & Clarence Smale, was one of the original design showcase homes of the prominent Hancock Park neighborhood in Los Angeles CA.  Built of superior quality materials and close to a century old, this unique home was well loved and maintained and likely to last another 100 years or more.  The new owners spent 2.3 million to buy the house and property and agreed at the time they would not tear it down. In 2020, they cold-heartedly oversaw the demise of this stunning architectural art form.

Tudor style home sits amongst its gardens on corner lot in Los Angeles
Built 1927, this historic Tudor style home has occupied a corner lot at 361 N Citrus Avenue, Hancock Park neighborhood, Los Angeles, CA.

It was noted in the 2019 realtor listing for its “unprecedented craftsmanship and detailing featuring custom interior/exterior millwork, wood floors, leaded glass diamond paned windows and more.  Magical gardens include an outdoor living/dining area with fireplace, grassy play area & iron pergola shaded dining patio, front and rear porches and so much more. Step back in time to an era of quality and detail…”

This is the spectacular brick, stone and carved wooden Tudor front entry was wantonly destroyed.

The heavy chimney and decorative half-timbering of this home followed the British-style Tudor style theme. To me, it is reminiscent of the 1500s Tudor Dynasty of England with a medieval presence to the design, reminiscent of a European castle.

It’s very easy to see how a family could enjoy many a party in the luxurious rooms and outdoor spaces of this North Citrus Avenue home. The Tudor home could warmly host them all in multiple dining spaces.

Front walk snakes around to the entryway door

These are the elegant beams, open space plan rooms and custom wooden floors that were crushed to pieces …

These were the beautiful leaded glass diamond paned windows that were smashed by the demolition crew...

These were the beautiful leaded glass diamond paned windows that were smashed by hand by the demolition crew…

This is the magical garden and brick paved outdoor living area with fireplace, also destroyed. . .

The magical gardens and brick outdoor spaces were also destroyed.

These are the remains of the historic Tudor at 361 N. Citrus Avenue, Los Angeles . . .

Source: LA Curbed


How did this happen?

Reuven and Shevy Gradon found this property in July 2019. They claimed love at first sight and offered $2.3 million for the property, quite a bit above the asking price. The family pictured many opportunities to enjoy family parties and dining in the great house according to October 23, 2019 issue of LA Curbed, “They loved the house. Then they tore it down.”  However, Mr. Gradon, a real estate investor and president of Afton Properties, secretly planned to add on to the house to accommodate his growing family. However, the architect nixed the idea due to the cost so plans to demolish the home began within a month of purpose.

Seller, Mr. David Cole had marketed this home specifically to people who would preserve the house in its present condition. However, a month after the sale he found out from a neighbor about the demolition plan for the 361 N. Citrus Avenue property. “It really is devastating to watch these beautiful old homes be completely demolished,” said David Cole, who owned the home at 361 North Citrus Avenue for nearly a decade.

“Long Live the Tudor” was the rallying cry of the neighbors who went to the County Commission to save the home at 361 N. Citrus Avenue. Most of the neighborhood came forward to prevent demolition of the property — the first Tudor home built in Hancock Park neighborhood in the 1920s.

The City of Los Angeles responded to neighborhood concern over the demolition. Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz filed a motion asking the City Council to take the home into consideration as a potential historical cultural monument. That would have given the home a temporary stay from demolition if the motion had been approved on time.  A city survey identified the area between La Brea and Highland and Rosewood and West Third Street as a potential historic district. Its tree lined-streets, deep front yards and period revival homes would make an excellent historical area according to Koretz. It could be “eligible for historic designation on its own,” said Koretz.

Due to some uncertain paperwork, filing errors or possibly his pull as a developer himself, Gradon was cleared to demolish the home. “I’m doing everything by the book,” Gradon said.

Next, the demolition crews pulled out hand tools to smash out windows and unloaded a bulldozer. At one point, local residents tried to surround the bulldozer to stop the destruction some yelling and crying until forced away by the workers.

Thus ends the life of yet another unique historic home in the USA that will never more be seen or enjoyed. This is the reason I decided to create my coffee table book, to record the legacy of beautiful homes throughout the country . . .before it is too late. The purpose of my book is to spread the message that we must not allow our historic architectural treasures be turned into rubble and become lost forever.

Hand Painted Homes, a book by Leisa CollinsAbout the coffee table book by Leisa Collins 

With hundreds of historic homes being torn down every week in America, Leisa decided she had to do something about it and recently released a coffee table book entitled “Hand Painted Homes: An Artist’s Pen and Watercolor Journey Across America” in order to raise awareness about the need to preserve our architectural heritage.  It is a legacy book and a labor of love that encompasses 10 years of Leisa’s artwork in all 50 states. She does not plan to publish follow up editions.

“My book is a celebration of all the homes historic preservationists and old house enthusiasts hold dear with a complete home reference guide to USA houses. It’s also a great teaching tool to build your family’s knowledge about historic home styles,” said Leisa.


Thanks for reading and until next time,