Sat12202014

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Neutra House restorations to get started

 Image from article Neutra House restorations to get started

A face-lift is in store for the Neutra House on Hillview Avenue, projected for a fall completion.

By fall, everything old will be new again at the Neutra House.

Neutra House supporters said major renovations and landscaping were put on hold due to winter rains, but are slated to begin this spring. Although the studio-sized home is not one of Neutra's larger, more impressive schemes, it stills holds architectural significance, supporters said.

The last of the "three houses in an orchard" - the small, communal homes designed by world-renowned architect Richard Neutra moved to city property last November will soon get a long-awaited face-lift.

Situated on a threadbare dirt lot, next to the Los Altos Community House, another restored home, and Hillview Community Center, Neutra House advocates hope to return the small, flat-roofed cottage to its original sparse look amid an orchard setting.

The work includes adding a single carport, typical of the classic Eichler-home design. Private donors including the Los Altos Community Foundation have raised nearly $150,000 for the restoration.

Contractor Dave Knudson is overseeing the project and plans to replace the roof and strip the exterior paint to restore the original natural redwood paneling.

"It's been a labor of love. When we're finished with the house, it's going to look very nice," Knudson said.

John Gusto, the former owner, offered the property to the city three years ago, after local preservationists convinced him the house, once the home of poet Jacqueline Johnson, was worthy of historical landmark status.

The city agreed to house the 980-square-foot cottage on city grounds last year on condition that sponsors pay the $40,000 price tag for relocation and a new foundation.

Roy Lave, executive director of the Community Foundation board said he looks forward to using the Neutra House as a community meeting space for non-profit organizations and off-site office functions.

"It will be a nice asset for the community. The house is important, not so much to public but in architectural circles," said Lave, who expects the project to be completed by fall.

Originally built in 1938 on Marvin Avenue in Los Altos, the communal houses were the architect's smallest creations and marked a departure from the other 17 houses Neutra designed in California during the 1930s. They are one of his first to use redwood siding, a look that the architect later implemented in the Los Angeles area.

A contemporary of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Neutra was known in the post-Modernist movement for adopting elements of the Bauhaus style of architecture from Germany that focused on practical, unadorned and artistic living spaces.

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