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Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract

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Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone

“Roll down the window put down the top/ Crank up the Beach Boys baby/ Don’t let the music stop,” Randy Newman sings in his LA spoof turned anthem.  Regardless of whether we accept this song, it confirms our reputation linking Los Angeles and convertibles.

Well, 35 years before Randy Newman released Trouble In Paradise, Gregory Ain was also linking the California Dream and convertibles.  The dream- modern, post-war, sunshine-filled indoor/outdoor living. The convertible- the living room wall that can open so the room expands into the yard and the bedroom walls that can open to make one giant master bedroom.

The 1948 Advanced Development Company ads marketed these homes as “Modernique.” According to the Office of Historic Resources, the word is a combination of modern and unique.  The tract became an HPOZ because its residents came together and fought for its designation in 2003.  So, yes, that is quite unique.  The ranch-style neighborhood in which I grew up has been shamelessly mansionized.  But, these 1,060 square foot homes arranged in 8 different ways with respect to their placement to the street and to the garage… Residents are moved to protect them.  There’s just something about them.

To learn more that something something, check here: http://marvistatract.org/history.html

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Avenel Cooperative Housing Project

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Gregory Ain grew up on the Llano Del Rio, a socialist Utopian society in Antelope Valley.  The cooperative wasn’t successful because the rio wasn’t reliable, but it was successful in engraining the values of community living into the minds of its youth.

Ain is often considered a socialist architect.  Whether or not there is truth in the consideration, he did design this cooperative housing project in Silverlake to house four blacklisted families.  Additionally, he tried to place a communal kitchen in the development, but the Federal Housing Administration wagged its finger.

Historically, there’s so much more going on here than what meets the eye.  But, the reason this project is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is because of its effective use of space.  To the passerby, there are 10 identical living spaces, 2 identical hillside structures, and zero street signs indicating these buildings’ innovations.

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