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Mid-Century Landmarks Driving Tour | love San Fernando Valley

4th Largest Unofficial City in America!

Mid-Century Landmarks Driving Tour

Modern Era/Mid-Century Moderne Style

Driving Tour

What we have come to think of typical CA architecture had its beginnings as visionary prototypes in the Valley in the 1940s and 50s. Picture the type of building at the turn of the 20th century through the 1930s. The stirrings of the Moderne movement — inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, futurism, and the Space Age — would have major impact on new building filling in the Valley after World War II.

 LA landmark properties and prototypes

These properties have been identified as historically significant to LA County, specifically the San Fernando Valley. Some have been saved from demolition by community activism, cared for and preserved by owners, and others placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Please be aware that most are private residences, and not open for tours.

These properties are listed in driving order in relation to each other, starting with the furthest NE property below. They are grouped in their quadrant of the Valley. (The web pages that preceded this put them in the order of when they were built. That way you could picture the buildings as they came into the landscape and changed the look of SFV.)


Northeast of SFV


Gainsburg House

Since this home was designed by famed architect Lloyd Wright — son of F.LW.– its influence on other architects and Modernist movement is of interest. Located north of Glendale at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains

1210 Journey’s End Drive

La Canada 91011 (off of Hwy 2)


Southeast Valley



Schaffer House

527 Whiting Woods Drive

Glendale 91208 (Montrose)



Rodriquez House

1845 Niodrara Drive

Glendale 91208



Self-Realization Fellowship (originally First Church of Religious Science)

2146 E. Chevy Chase Drive

Glendale 91206



Seventh Day Adventist Church

300 Vallejo Drive (near Hwy 2/134)

Glendale 91206



Chase Bank (originally Prudential Savings and Loan)

500 N. Glendale

Glendale 91206



U.S. Bank (originally Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan)

600 N. Brand Blvd.

Glendale 91203



Glendale Federal Savings

401 N. Brand Blvd.

Glendale 91203



Alex Theater

216 N. Brand Blvd.

Glendale 91203



Glendale First Methodist Church

130 N. Kenwood Street

Glendale 91205



Glendale County Building

600 E. Broadway

Glendale 91206



Chapel of the Jesus Ethic – Niscience

336 W. Colorado Street

Glendale 91204



Lloyd Hammond Wilson

Real estate developer of Glendale/ San Fernando Valley Road Corridor

Mediterranean/Moorish Revival Style.

3901 San Fernando Road

Glendale 91202


East Valley




Burbank City Hall

WPA Moderne Style

275 E. Olive Avenue

Burbank 91502



Burbank Water and Power

Late Moderne Style

164 W. Magnolia

Burbank 91502


South Valley 134/101 Corridor



General Motors Training Center

45 year state-of-the-art training site

1105 Riverside Drive

Burbank 91506



Walt Disney Studios

The money from Snow White bought the lot — Disney’s home was “around the corner” in Los Feliz

1990 new studio – the columns are the 7 dwarves.

500 S. Buena Vista Street

Burbank 91521



Warner Brothers Records Building

Late Moderne Style

architect A. Quincy Jones

3300 Riverside Drive

Burbank 91505



Warner Brothers Office Building #1

111 N. Hollywood Way

Burbank 91505



Warner Brothers Office Building #2

mirrored walls reflect 80% of summer sun away from building

3903 W. Olive Avenue

Burbank 91505



Bob’s Big Boy

Owner Bob Wian’s burger preparation was revolutionary and copied by others such as McDonald’s. Funky postwar coffee shop designs developed first in LA in the late 1940s – 1960s. The style is referred to as Googie, a mixture of futuristic, Atomic Age, Space Age and car culture. This was the third restaurant, oldest left in US. The first was across from Glendale High School. As teens, my in-laws used to eat there.

4211 W. Riverside Drive

Burbank 91505



Wells Fargo (originally World Savings)

architect Frank Gehry

10064 Riverside Drive

Toluca Lake 91602



Case Study House #1

architect Julius Ralph Davidson

CA Modern Style designed for Arts and Architecture magazine program

10152 Toluca Lake Avenue

Los Angeles 91602


West of 170 Freeway

North Hollywood



Lankershim Train Depot

One of few 19th century era landmarks left

The Valley’s oldest unmodified railroad structure

11275 Chandler Blvd/5351 Lankershim

  1. Hollywood 91601



North Hollywood Masonic Lodge #542

Mayan/Mesoamerican Modern Style

5124 N. Tujunga Avenue

Los Angeles 91601

Clark Gable, John Wayne, Warner Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Audie Murphy members



Citibank (originally Commonwealth Savings Building)

Mid-century office design

5077 Lankershim Blvd.

  1. Hollywood 91601

one of the first high-rise commercial structures in SFV



Wells Fargo (originally LA Federal Savings and Loan Tower)

Architect Richard Neutra defined modernism in S. CA

Tallest building in SFV, one of first skyscrapers built in LA — with a giant mural depicting LA history.

12160 Victory Blvd.

Los Angeles 91606

which anchored a new type of retail experience:

Valley Plaza Shopping Center

This was oriented away from neighborhood shopping towards car culture, with a large central parking lot in the back, easy access to the new freeway. This would prove to be a very influential new concept across the US for the next 50 years.



Poster Neutra

Modernist, affordable, multi-family housing units

6847 Radford Avenue

  1. Hollywood 91605



Laurelwood Apartments

International style

Modern courtyard garden apartment complex began in SFV

11833 Laurelwood Drive

Los Angeles 91604



Waxman House

Modernism – vertical orientation on a challenging, steep, sloping lot

3644 Buena Park Drive

Los Angeles 91604



St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church

Architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons 18 year partnership produced thousands of modern churches and homes in S.CA

3646 Coldwater Canyon Ave.

Studio City 91604



Ralph’s (originally Hughes Markets)

Mid-century Modern; distinctive design still intact, which is rare today. Supermarkets were designed to be eye-catching

12842 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91604



Sportman’s Lodge

The hunting lodge-motifed restaurant and hotel were added in 1942 in the mid-century modern style – the Valley’s first fine dining experience. It became the center of social life for 50 years. The trout lakes had been around since the 1880s when Ventura Blvd. was a dirt road. SFV families fished here, then ate their dinner at the original rustic Craftsmans buildings. Since the property is close to the studios, scores of stars have hung out at the Lodge for decades and taught their children to fish here.

12833 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91604



Lingenbrink Shops

William Lingenbrink was a patron of new modernistic ideas emerging in art and architecture. The design of his shops and galleries foreshadowed the CA strip mall — flat roofs and connected buildings made of stucco and glass. Lingenbrink’s art deco cabin designed by architect Robert Schindler still stands (though greatly enlarged) at 3978 Blackbird Way in Calabasas.

12632 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91604


Sherman Oaks


Chase Knolls

13401 Riverside Drive

Los Angeles 91423

Garden apartment community born in SFV due to population boom after WWII. Residential buildings were arranged around a central courtyard. The parking and storage was around the perimeter. The modern aesthetic led to a plain exterior with wide eaves to provide shade. Citrus groves and dairy farms were built over rapidly in the Valley.



17 Platform Houses

Architect Richard Neutra designed platforms jutting out over the edge of steep slopes make the houses seem to float in the air.

3733 Oakfield Drive

Los Angeles 91423



Sunkist Corporate Headquarters

Reinforced concrete with recessed windows, in an inverted structure.

14130 Riverside Drive

Los Angeles 91423



Casa de Cadillac

Car dealership mid-century modern, blurring lines between the indoors and outdoors

14401 Ventura Blvd.

Sherman Oaks 91423



Mel’s Diner (originally Kerry’s Coffee Shop)

Architects Armet and Davis classic Googie Style – mid-century modern roadside design. Angled roofline, Space Age elements. Very few surviving Googie coffee shops remain.

14846 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91403



Phineas Kappe Residence

Architect designed at least five homes around Royal Woods Drive in California Modern, featuring post and beam construction, open interiors, large glass windows and patios.

15541 Woodcrest Drive

Los Angeles 91403


West of I-405



Mid-century modern home

Architects A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons developed the first affordable, middle class subdivisions.

3954 N. Ballina Drive

Los Angeles 91436



Valley Beth Shalom

Mid-century modern — cornerstone quarried from Mt. Zion

15739 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91436



Office Building

Mid-century modern by an Encino architect

17100 Ventura Blvd.

Encino 91316



Chase Bank (originally Home Savings and Loan)

Artist Millard Sheets created large mosaic of SFV history

Sculpture by Betty Davenport Ford

17121 Ventura Blvd.

Encino 91316



Car Wash

Googie style “auto laundry”

17438 Ventura Blvd.

Encino 91316



Glazier House

Mid-century modern open split-level plan. Awards from House and Home, and Sunset magazines.

4422 Grimes Place (between White Oak and Lindley)

Encino 91316



Fleetwood Center

Strip mall building shaped like the front of a 1976 Cadillac — originally hot pink, now white

19611 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91356


Woodland Hills


formerly Casual Patio and Rattan

Mid-century Space Age design like a honeycomb

19855 Ventura Blvd.

Los Angeles 91364


1970 – 1990

Warner Center

Planned commercial, residential, mass-transit oriented community built on 1.5 square mile of ranch land once owned by Harry Warner. Today this urban hub has glass skyscrapers, a hospital, park, Metro Rail station and light industry, but is short on residents.

21550 Oxnard Street

Los Angeles 91364



Al Struckus House

architect Bruce Goff designs modern organic architecture, each home being unique to its site. Struckus house is a 4 story cylinder in redwood and stucco. Struckus was a woodworker, engineer, and art collector who finished the house.

4510 Saltillo Street

Los Angeles 91364



Spanner Residence

Mid-century modern vertical stack on small, sloped lot

4143 N. Cachalote Street

West Hills 91364



Woodside Neighborhood

architect Charles DuBois

Intact modern postwar neighborhood featuring Contemporary California Ranch homes on quiet curvilinear streets and cul-de-sacs.

4410 Willens Avenue

Los Angeles 91364 (Calabasas)


Westfield Mall – first mall


Mid-Valley North of Victory Boulevard, West I-405



Westridge Park Ranch House

Modern, attractive, affordable subdivision on 1/2 acre setbacks. Cinderella Ranch Style with gingerbread moulding, exaggerated gables, with new ideas such as sliding glass doors, snack area with serving bar, fireplaces with log lighters.

21012 Strathem Street

Canoga Park 91304



Child Development Institute (CDI) Learning Center (originally Canoga Park Library)

Mid-century modern. Butterfly roof, natural light, thin-shell concrete new material. Woodland Hills Library built at same time, but demolished 2001.

7260 Owensmouth Avenue

Los Angeles 91303



Ability First Paul Weston Work Center (originally Crippled Children’s Society)

architect John Lautner Late Modern/Expressionistic architecture innovation — director’s office at the center of a pie-shaped design to oversee departments.

6530 N. Winnetka

Los Angeles 91367



Devonshire Highlands/Country Estates

Intact traditional Ranch subdivision set the standard when a building boom hit the San Fernando Valley after WWII. Underground utilities, 1/2 acre lots, pools. This was an exclusive, ideal, upper middle class neighborhood. Between Plummer-Tunny-Devonshire-Tampa-Calvin.

9841 Calvin Avenue

Northridge 91326



Living Conditioned Homes

Most distinctive mid-century modern neighborhood. Five different plans of Contemporary Ranch — dramatic entrances, butterfly roofs, decorative concrete blocks, built-in kitchen blenders; “conditioned” for optimal space, light, sound and safety. Modern ideals in mass-produced housing.

NE corner of SFV — Reseda and Devonshire.


Mid-Valley North of Victory Boulevard, East of I-405


Kaiser Community Homes

Master planned 4,000 modern Ranch and Minimal Traditional houses on 31 acres of dairy and sheep ranches became Panorama City. Pre-fab ideas developed during WWII at Kaiser shipbuilder made houses for under $10,000.



Panorama Bank (originally Great Western)

Organic Modern sculptural  building by pioneering design firm specialized in Modern bank designs. Metal staircase curves through the building interior.

8201 Van Nuys Blvd.

Los Angeles 91402




Cadillac Jack’s Cafe and Pink Motel

Pinkest building in region, maybe the state. Mid-century modern along San Fernando Road, once the main route from Los Angeles to the north. Many restaurants and motels served motorists after WWII. Once I-5 was built, touristy roadside businesses disappeared. One of the remnants of that era, it’s maintained by the original owner’s family. Used for movies locations and by skateboarders (the empty pool a hangout since the 1970s).

6457 San Fernando Road

Los Angeles 91352



Balboa Highlands

Architect Joseph Eichler had lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house and resolved to build homes with modern ideas for average people. In collaborated with A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons, four models were designed with flat, A-framed, or slant roofs, simple front facades, inside atrium courtyards, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, natural light, and open floor plans. The most striking aspect of the neighborhood was that race and religion-based restrictions in place at the time against non-whites were rejected. They made it possible for everyone to buy modern, affordable architecture for the middle class.

12740 Darla Avenue

Los Angeles 91344