Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Tolstoy House

The Tolstoy House by John Lautner is a remarkable structure built in the 1960's in the Alta Loma District of what is more widely known as the present day City of Rancho Cucamonga. It was built for a teacher whose family had cultivated the land years before as Citrus groves. Rather detailed descriptions of the house can be found in John Lautner, Architect by John Lautner and Frank Escher and in the monograph The Architecture of John Lautner by Alan Hess.
The house is all but surrounded by more recent developments but the carefully cultivated landscape isolates the home visually and it becomes a pavilion in a near tropical oasis.  The structure is a series of concrete curving walls with a daring steel cable roof structure over which is built a light weight wood sheathing.  Steel columns support plate glass windows.  The building is actually three detached structures( residence, a music studio, and an open air lath house) united by the common steel cable overhead.

I had the pleasure, honor really; of being a resident caretaker before the house was sold to the present owners, and my family were the first to live in the house after the Tolstoys moved out. It was a remarkable experience one I may detail in other posts but for now I wanted to post some images of this little known but significant design by one of the most important figures of 20th Century Modern Architecture.