Resource Description

Resource Summary

Names
Boathouse Thematic Group (Primary)
Resource Types
District
Important Dates
No dates recorded
Keywords (Subjects)
Harry Gesner
hillside
1950s
Post World War II
Norwegian
Ronald Buck
historic district

Location Information

Addresses
Location Description
No descriptions recorded
Administrative Areas
Sherman Oaks - Studio City - Toluca Lake - Cahuenga Pass Community Plan Area (Community Plan Area)
Los Angeles City Council District 4 (Council District)
HOLLYWOOD HILLS WEST NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (Neighborhood Council)
STUDIO CITY NEIGHBORHOOD (Neighborhood)

Classification

Classification
No classifications recorded
Related Features
No features recorded

Resource Descriptions

General Description
The Boathouse Thematic Group is located in the hills along the south side of the Cahuenga Pass. This grouping is composed of twelve identical single-family residences occupying steep, narrow hillside lots and lining multiple discontiguous segments of Woodrow Wilson Drive and Pacific View Drive. Each of these compact residences is set at the street, with an open carport that shelters the main entrance. The lots are narrow, averaging 35 feet wide and 95 feet deep along Pacific View Drive, and 25 feet wide and 90 feet deep along Woodrow Wilson Drive. With the hillside descending steeply toward the rear of the parcels, the residences are perched upon pier supports. The canyon-facing facade reveals two stories of living space, enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glass to maximize canyon views. Other features include clipped gable roofs with deep, overhanging eaves on the canyon side; unpainted wood siding, and a full-width upper-story balcony. Of the 12 residences, 11 are contributors to the district; one is a non-contributor due to extensive alterations.

Summary of Significance
The Boathouse Thematic Group is significant as a unique example of hillside residential design and for exhibiting technological innovations in engineering as applied to the modern hillside architecture of the San Fernando Valley. The grouping's period of significance is 1959, when all of the residences were constructed. These residences were designed by Los Angeles native and self-taught architect Harry Gesner. Gesner is best known for his inventive, expressionistic residential designs, with many of his commissions located in the coastal community of Malibu. In the 1950s, Gesner designed a series of what he called "boathouses" in the hills above the Cahuenga Pass. The project began when landowner Ronald Buck contacted Gesner to ask for advice on how to develop a group of hillside lots he had purchased. (Buck was also responsible for developing the similarly challenging hillside lots of the Bridge House Residential Historic District, also in the Cahuenga Pass.) Although these lots were originally subdivided in 1911, the challenge posed by their size and hillside topography appears to have discouraged development for several decades. Ultimately, Gesner hired a team of Norwegian shipbuilders to assist in the construction. The use of hand-axes rather than saws for cutting wood helped achieve a handcrafted look. A combination of complex engineering and Gesner's creative design solution has resulted in this collection of unique hillside residences which respond to the challenging circumstances of their sites while taking advantage of the picturesque canyon setting.


External System References

SurveyLA ID: 37b9d800-c876-4791-9c87-4e626b864a6b

Resource Significance

Evaluation Details

Date Evaluated
2012-08-16
Context/Theme
Architecture and Engineering, 1850-1980
Engineering, 1900-1985
Technological Developments in Construction, 1900-1985
Hill Houses, 1920-1985
Residential
District
Eligibility Standards
  • Is an excellent grouping of residences designed and engineered to adapt to the terrain and build sites
  • Was developed during the period of significance
  • Contributors to a district may have a greater degree of alteration than individually significant properties
  • District as a whole should retain integrity of Location, Setting, Design, Workmanship, Feeling, and Materials
  • Surrounding landscape should retain original slope
  • As a whole, retains the essential physical and character-defining features from the period of significance
  • May be associated with noted designers and architects of the period
  • Overall, district is characterized by narrow, winding streets, often without sidewalks or curbs
  • Integrity Aspects
    Materials
    Feeling
    Design
    Location
    Workmanship
    Retains sufficient integrity to convey significance
    Setting
    California Historic Resources Status Codes (explanation of codes)
    3S
    5S3
    3CS
    Significance Statement
    Grouping of twelve unique hillside houses, known as "Boathouses", designed by noted Malibu architect Harry Gesner in 1959.
    Periods of Significance
    From: 1959-01-01

    Related Resources

    Related Historic Resources

    7045 Woodrow Wilson Dr (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    6890 W PACIFIC VIEW DR (Building, District Non-Contributor, is a non-contributor to / has as a non-contributor)
    6906 W PACIFIC VIEW DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7229 W PACIFIC VIEW DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7035 W WOODROW WILSON DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7031 W WOODROW WILSON DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    6900 W PACIFIC VIEW DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7149 W WOODROW WILSON DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7041 Woodrow Wilson Dr (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    6894 W PACIFIC VIEW DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7147 W WOODROW WILSON DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)
    7027 W WOODROW WILSON DR (Building, District Contributor, is a contributor to / has as a contributor)

    Related Historic Districts

    None

    Related Activities

    None

    Related Historic Events

    None

    Related People/Organizations

    Historic Resources Group (Surveying Firm, was surveyed by / surveyed)

    Related Information Resources