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2 Frank Lloyd Wright Homes on Market

September 04, 1988|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Frank Lloyd Wright left his stamp on 23 structures in California, but the first one the late great architect designed on the whole West Coast was in Montecito, and it has been restored and is for sale.

Not only that, but the largest California property used as a private home with a residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on it is also on the market.

Owned until he died about a year ago by the late film writer/producer/director Arch Oboler (who was writing a mini-series about the architect but never finished it), the Malibu home--really a collection of three small buildings--sits on 105 acres.

Oboler owned 360 acres when he asked Wright to design the house in 1940 but later sold most of the property. An estimated 70% of the existing parcel is zoned for single-family residences.

Oboler, a mineral collector in his spare time (he produced the first 3-D picture--"Bwana Devil"--in 1952 and wrote many screenplays after beginning in radio in 1936), built walls of stones he gathered from all over the United States, but he never finished building the home Wright envisioned, said Jerry Kay, co-executor of the estate and self-described "Girl Friday" to Oboler for 44 years.

First, there was the war, and steel for building was unavailable, so Oboler only built the gatehouse, known as Eagle Feather, with one bedroom.

The house was expanded as Oboler's family grew, and a guest house and quarters for the help were completed, but Oboler abandoned other construction plans when his 5-year-old son drowned in a water-filled excavation.

The Obolers reared three other sons there, but the sons now live "all over the world," Kay said, and the property is too large for Oboler's widow. Wright's plans for a further extension and additional buildings are available.

The property is listed at $3.5 million with Barbara Moser and Linda Berg of Merrill Lynch Realty, Malibu.

"We considered purchasing the Oboler property, but the home needs extensive restoration," said Steve Danforth, a music editor at Paramount Studios as well as founder and president of the Wrightian Assn., which he describes as "a group of Wright fanatics."

"If I had the money, I'd buy the Stewart House (in Montecito) because it is in great shape, with wood restored like new."

With Wright's grandson, architect Eric Lloyd Wright, as its mentor and probably its lead architect, Danforth said, the 70-member Wrightian Assn. has been looking for a couple of years for property in the Hollywood Hills to build "moderately priced homes with good architecture," adhering to the elder Wright's philosophy.

The Hollywood-based group (213/874-6397) is also sponsoring a tour, at no charge, at 2 p.m. Saturday of the Stewart House, which was restored by owners Jerald A. Peterson of Ojai and his daughter Nancy. Peterson built motels and apartment houses for himself, his daughter said, "and this is his retirement activity."

The Stewart House is the second house that the father and daughter have worked on together. It was described as "the only Prairie-style" Frank Lloyd Wright house on the West Coast and "the only Frank Lloyd Wright house with a complete redwood exterior, no masonry." It was built in 1910 as a summer cottage for the George Stewart family of Chicago.

They resided there until the early '40s, when a sister of the original owner apparently panicked over war in the Pacific and sold the house for $6,000 to move back to Chicago.

The father/daughter team bought the nearly 5,000-square-foot house--with six bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths, on about an acre at 196 Hotsprings Road--from a later owner to restore and sell. They're asking $1.6 million.

Talk about high prices! There is yet another house for rent at $75,000 a month--the second one I've heard about at that astronomical figure in a matter of weeks! This one is on about 3 acres in Beverly Hills, with manicured gardens, rolling lawns, a long private drive, nine-car garage, pool, tennis court, motor court, three apartments and a mansion built in 1927. Jeff Hyland of Alvarez, Hyland & Young is handling it.

If there were any doubts about Zev Yaroslavsky running for mayor, this should dispel them: A group called "Citizens for Yaroslavsky" has leased campaign headquarters at 8150 Beverly Blvd. from Westled Inc. through Bryan Fink of L.J. Hooker International.

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