Classic L.A. to Z: A is for ARCHITECTURE


The City of Los Angeles is stitched into nearly 900,000 parcels of land with almost as many architectural styles built on them. Our easygoing attitude and mild climate have given root to fantastic hybrids. For instance, the 1894 Queen Anne pictured incorporates Richardsonian Romanesque, Islamic, French chateauesque, and colonial revival styles. The rest of the world isn’t immune to the charms of our indigenous creations. Today Californian bungalows can be found in Australia, and one of our traditional ranch homes sits among the snowy pines of Switzerland. Here we present a survey of modest to extravagant houses dating from 1865 to 1964, the century in which L.A. went from sleepy pueblo to eclectic megalopolis. Owning your own home is still the American dream, and where else will you find dreams in as many shapes and styles as ours?

100 years of L.A. homes start here

  • Adobe

    (Glendale, 1865)

  • The city’s first permanent homes were built from mud and straw. The Casa Adobe de San Rafael features a Monterey-style covered porch and was restored in 1932.

  • Italianate

    (Angelino Heights, 1872)

  • The Foy House, built by saddle maker Samuel Foy, is a rare example of neoclassical Italian Renaissance style in L.A. Constructed downtown, it was moved here in the early 1990s

  • Eastlake

    (Angelino Heights, 1887)

  • Fans of the TV show Charmed will recognize the Innes House. Characterized by its vertical beams and linear details, it is considered restrained compared to what emerged next.

  • Queen Anne

    (Westlake, 1894)

  • The Mooers House is one of the most exuberant from the Victorian era. Its gingerbread details, dome, and wraparound porch combine so many motifs that it borders on fantasy.

  • Mission Revival

    (Pico-Union, 1904)

  • The 1884 novel Ramona sparked a resurgence of all things Californio. The Powers House idealizes the romance of the missions with its arches and arcades.

  • Craftsman

    (West Adams, 1905)

  • Elements of nature and Japanese design inspired Charles and Henry Greene, the architects of the Wheeler House and pioneers of the Arts and Crafts movement.

  • Bungalow

    (Los Feliz, 1911)

  • With their broad porches, wide overhangs, and gabled roofs, these modest homes resemble Craftsmans and became one of the most prevalent types of L.A. residences.

  • Spanish Colonial Revival

    (Toluca Lake, 1926)

  • Architects who had fallen in love with the country homes of Spain re-created the comforting stucco abodes with red-tiled roofs that are now a Southern California signature.

  • Storybook

    (Toluca Lake, 1928)

  • This movement drew inspiration from French and English farmhouses, but through a cinematic lens that exaggerated their turrets and thatched roofs in fairy-tale abodes.

  • Tudor

    (Pasadena, 1929)

  • Tudors imitated the medieval country houses of England with their herringbone brick, leaded glass, and half-timbered facades. This 13-bedroom mansion is a lavish example.

  • International

    (Mid Wilshire, 1934)

  • European modernists Rudolph Schindler, whose Buck House is seen here, and Richard Neutra brought a stripped-down aesthetic and indoor-outdoor orientation to California.

  • Streamline

    (Los Feliz, 1935)

  • This early modern style boiled down the design of an entity (be it a house or a toaster) to its basic elements, rounding off the edges to give a static object the perception of speed.

  • Colonial

    (Toluca Lake, 1938)

  • The colonial revival aesthetic took off here during the 1930s. The brick construction, shutters, multiple chimneys, and entryway pediment connote stability and elegance.

  • Minimal Traditional

    (Santa Monica, 1941)

  • Building materials were scarce during World War II, and the mood was austere. The simple entrance portico, octagonal window, and hipped roof are typical of the era.

  • Ranch

    (Serman Oaks, 1953)

  • Newcomers to the wide-open spaces of the San Fernando Valley devoured the long, low rustic dwellings featuring wood siding and fixtures that recalled TV westerns.

  • Modern

    (Granada Hills, 1964)

  • Developer Joseph Eichler and architect A. Quincy Jones built tracts of low-cost high-quality homes, delivering the modern ideals of Neutra and Schindler to the masses.


Tour of Beauty

Explore some of L.A.’s most original homes with the people who know them best

Victorian Era
Once a month, Los Angeles Conservancy docents lead walking tours through the gingerbread homes of Angelino Heights, like the Innes House, just a stone’s throw from the Hollywood Freeway.

The West Adams Heritage Association opens the Wheeler House annually. Across town each fall, Pasadena Heritage hosts Craftsman Weekend, featuring house tours, parties, and nearly 100 vendors who specialize in furniture and fixtures used to restore the homes of the early 20th-century movement.

Architecture Tours L.A. includes the Buck House on one of its seven excursions. Its most popular explores Silver Lake and the homes designed by Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and John Lautner—the all-stars of Los Angeles modernism.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town