Storied Sturges House Seeks Loving Owner

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Sturges Houses by Frank Lloyd Wright; photo by Grant Mudford

Twenty-four years ago, Peter Loughrey founded Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA), specializing in 20th century design and art. The first piece he ever auctioned was a Frank Lloyd Wright window.

Now he is getting to sell an entire house by the famed architect.

The Sturges House is a 1,200-square-foot Brentwood home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, and built under the supervision of the man Wright referred to as the “Next-Best-Architect-on-Earth:” John Lautner.

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

It will be auctioned on February 21, following the death of its most recent owner, Jack Larson, last year.

The house was commissioned by an aerospace engineer named George Sturges, and his wife Selma.

Portrait of Jack Larson by David Hockney, 1967 (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)
Portrait of James Bridges by David Hockney, 1967 (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Since 1967 it was owned by James Bridges, director of films including The China Syndrome, Bright Lights Big City and Urban Cowboy, and his partner Jack Larson, an actor best known for portraying reporter Jimmy Olsen in The Adventures of Superman, the 1950s TV show.

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

The couple hired John Lautner to restore and adapt the house. Bridges died in 1993 and Jack Larson remained in the house until his death last year at the age of 87.

In Loughrey’s view, 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.

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

The estimated sale price for the Sturges house is $2.5 to three million. The building is a historic-cultural monument so it cannot be altered or torn down. 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.

The auction takes place on February 21, and the house can be viewed through February 19th. It is being co-represented by LAMA and by Barry Sloane and Marc Silver at Sotheby’s Residential.

Listen to DnA’s interview with Peter Loughrey.

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