Big Week For Sturges and Sheats-Goldstein Houses

Big news for two LA architectural landmarks this week.

LACMA has just announced receipt of a gift of the famed Sheats-Goldstein residence owned by James Goldstein, designed by LA's most inventive midcentury architect, John Lautner.

And this weekend the Sturges House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with construction overseen by John Lautner, will be sold at auction.

Sheats Goldstein

Big news for two LA architectural landmarks this week.

LACMA has just announced receipt of a gift of the famed Sheats-Goldstein residence owned by James Goldstein, designed by LA’s most inventive midcentury architect, John Lautner.

And this weekend the Sturges House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with construction overseen by John Lautner, will be sold at auction.

The Sheats-Goldstein residence was built between 1961 and 1963 in Beverly Crest, near the Beverly Hills border, for Helen and Paul Sheats and their three children. She was an artist, he was a university professor, and they had previously hired Lautner to design the 1948-1949 Sheats Apartments in Westwood.

Jim Goldstein, photographed at the Sheats-Goldstein house by Avishay Artsy
Jim Goldstein, photographed at the Sheats-Goldstein house by Avishay Artsy

Sheats-Goldstein is an angular glass, concrete and wooden building whose form is derived from triangular geometry. Part cave, part massive faceted jewel, the house appears to grow out of the hillside, and cantilever perilously over the slope below.

Its sexy master bedroom contains a triangular bed with controls that open the glass window-wall revealing a breathtaking panorama of LA.

The house is said by LACMA to be a “promised gift” since the colorful James Goldstein, known for his snakeskin boots, cowboy hats, love of basketball and babe-filled parties, still lives there.

This means LACMA has permission to periodically open the house up in the near future for programming (talks, events, performances, etc.), but it won’t offer “regular access” to visitors. The museum says it is still formulating its long term plans for the house.

Meanwhile, supporters of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, will still be able to attend their popular annual fundraiser that takes place on the tennis court of Sheats-Goldstein.

The acquisition of the house fits into an ongoing program of LACMA director Michael Govan to pursue the acquisition of architectural landmarks in Los Angeles; in a city defined by outdoor spaces, he has said “architecture is inseparable from art.”

About the Sheats-Goldstein acquisition he says, “This promised gift represents a rethinking of the museum and its place in the city. LACMA can present architecture as one of the highest art forms, using Lautner’s visionary structure to inspire programming designed to create broad visibility for this masterwork and underscore the importance of modernist architecture and its preservation.

Sturges Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright; photo by Grant Mudford

Sturges House For Sale

The news comes just as another house with John Lautner’s fingerprints all over it goes on the auction block.

The 1939 Sturges residence, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with construction overseen by Lautner, will be sold this weekend by Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA).

The house has a storied past. It was commissioned by an aerospace engineer named George Sturges, and his wife Selma, but from the late 1960s until his death last year, it was occupied by Jack Larsen, who played Jimmy Olson in The Adventures of Superman, with his partner, the film director James Bridges (died 1993), whose movies include The China Syndrome, Bright Lights Big City and Urban Cowboy.

Interior, LAMA-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Sturges-6

The house, though petite at 1200 square feet, is highly dramatic, a brick and wood structure that cantilevers over its steep hillside site, supported by a stout brick base.

Peter Loughrey, auctioneer and founder of LAMA, believes John Lautner was profoundly influenced by his experience working on the Sturges House. Not only did it cause him to live and then build himself a house in Los Angeles; it also inspired his own work.

There is a direct line, says Loughrey, between the cantilevered Sturges house and the Chemosphere house, a flying saucer-shaped structure perched on a tall post on a steep hillside.

View from below, LAMA-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Sturges-4

The auction takes place on February 21, and the house can be viewed through Friday, February 19th.

The Sturges House is being co-represented by LAMA and by Barry Sloane and Marc Silver at Sotheby’s Residential and the estimated sale price for the Sturges house is $2.5 to three million. It cannot be torn down or altered as it’s a Historic Landmark, and the proceeds from the sale will go to the Bridges-Larsen Foundation supporting higher education, arts and culture.

Furniture and art from the house will be also be sold at the auction.

Furniture with painting by Alex Katz, LAMA-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Alex-Katz-February2016

Photographs of the Sturges House by Grant Mudford.

Listen to DnA’s discussion about the house with Peter Loughrey, director of LA Modern Auctions.

All images on this page by photographer Grant Mudford.

The segment concluded with a few bars from LIGHT SCREENS (2002) a composition scored for flute, violin, viola, piano, and cello by the composer Andrew Norman (who spoke on this DnA about a composition inspired by Frank Gehry’s home). It was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass window designs, which the architect termed “light screens.” 

View with car, LAMA-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Sturges-5