Sturdevant Bungalow

Sturdevant Bungalow
Sturdevant Bungalow, photo by Charles J. Fisher, 2007

Sturdevant Bungalow, Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #927

Built: 1914  Declared: 07/09/2008

This Craftsman bungalow is an excellent example of the type of housing that was constructed in the City of Venice for use as vacation homes for those who lived elsewhere in the area, but would come to the seaside community on weekends and holidays. The structure is one of a grouping of homes that were built on spec by William G. Laueson in the Venice Annex Tract, Laueson had been building homes in Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica. He later settled in Van Nuys and went on to become a real estate agent and speculator and was one of the early developers of the San Fernando Valley. The Lauesens were to remain prominent in Valley society for another four decades. The house itself is essentially unaltered since its construction and serves as a near-pristine example of the simple Craftsman Bungalow. While it appears to be a stock set of plans that Mr. Laueson used, the quality of design and workmanship is high and the house displays a high degree of integrity making it an excellent example for the study of the Craftsman style and the methods of construction that were used at the time it was built.

The Craftsman style, which was born in the Arroyo Seco at the turn of 20th Century, became the signature domestic architecture of California as it quickly spread throughout the nation. As the style became popular, many architects began selling the same designs for smaller homes as stock plans. Contractors such as William Laueson purchased these plans and began building homes from stock plans on spec or for clients. Companies such as the Los Angeles Improvement Company began offering these plans in the format of plan books, where a photo and floor-plan of the house was used to promote a design to their clients. There has been speculation that the Sturdevant Bungalow and at least four others that Laueson built in Venice Annex may have used designs by the architect Norman Foote Marsh, who had worked extensively with Abbott Kinney during the early years of his development of “Venice By the Sea” in 1904-05. While Marsh and his partner at the time, Clarence Russell, did a number of house designs with some of the treatments found in the Sturdevant Bungalow, there has so far been no direct evidence that this is one of their designs. Suffice it to say that the quality of design seems to point to an architect-designed house. The Sturdevant Bungalow is the most intact of the five in Venice Annex and it is a prime example of the design of the single-story front-gabled Craftsman Bungalow. The builder is important because of his early work in the Venice area and his later impact in the development of the San Fernando Valley. It appears that Mrs. Sturdevant, a Christian Science Practitioner, used this house as a weekend retreat, while living in Hollywood. By 1920, it was owned and occupied by the Whyler family as the demographics of Venice began to change from a vacation community to a suburb of Los Angeles.