Nestled among the trees on a hilltop overlooking the San Fernando Valley, this wooded retreat was completed in 1939 by brilliant sculptor-turned-architect Harwell Hamilton Harris. An Otis Art Institute alumnus who began his architectural career as an apprentice of Richard Neutra, Harris designed the Cahuenga Pass residence for two fellow artists, Lee and Mary Blair.
Considered one of Disney’s most influential designers and art directors, Mary Blair was instrumental in crafting the look of classic Disney movies such as ‘Cinderella’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.“, and “Peter Pan,” as well as that of Disneyland’s beloved “It’s a Small World” theme park attraction. No slouch himself, Lee Blair worked as an animator on several Disney masterpieces, including “Fantasia,” “Bambi” and “Pinocchio,” and, during the relatively brief period when the Olympics included the arts in his competitions, won a gold medal for one of his watercolors in 1932.
A shining example of organic modernism, the redwood-clad residence was the proud recipient of a meticulous years-long restoration by designer David Brudnicki. Measuring a compact 1,254 square feet, it feels larger thanks to abundant fenestration in a variety of shapes – fluted glass, folding French doors, clerestory windows and skylights. Responding to the steep hillside terrain, Harris structured the house into a trio of stacked volumes, with the entertainment areas (living room, dining room, kitchen) on one level, the master bedroom and bathroom on another. , and a spacious studio / second bedroom In the third.
Notable original attributes include hardwood floors, a sculptural brick fireplace, built-in cabinetry and furniture, soffit lighting, and folding partitions. Each level has its own dedicated private outdoor space, ranging from a covered patio to a shaded roof terrace to a terraced lounge with ping pong table and hanging swing seat. Not original to the property but certainly handy for carrying groceries etc, is a funicular that runs from the garage at street level to the front door.
The technically small but architecturally major home is now available for furnished rental for a monthly rent of $11,500. Robert Lee Walters of Leland Properties owns the listing.