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.


Jan-Richard said...

Hey, name is Jan-Richard Kikkert Amsterdam based architect. We will be in LA Apr 28 - May 6 2007 to see as many of the 84 still existing John Lautner buildings as possible. Our list of apointments is growing but we never managed to find the name or phonenmuber of the present owners of the Tolstoy house. Can you help us? Best regards,
Jan-Richard Kikkert

Tycho said...

Last May we (Jan Richard, me and 8 Dutch students) went past the Tolstoy residence. We walked around the house and took some pictures. If you are interested I can mail them to you. We tried eveything to contact the current owners, but without any luck.
Do you know who owns it? I have the feeling the house is in danger, if not taken care of properly.
Thanks, Tycho

Scott Kirk Cueto said...

I am unaware of who the current owners of the property are. Mr. Tolstoy was an influential member of the city planning commission for many years. All I can say as to the future of the house is that the city is aware of the significance of the property and would not support demolition of the property.

One could try contacting the City of Rancho Cucamonga, they have a Historical resources officer who was concerned when I spoke with hime several years ago.

R Cavin said...

Hi, my husband and I just moved to Alta Loma. My husband is a retired professor of architecture. We live close to Hillside and are interested in finding the Lautner house. I have been able to find the historic Tolstoy House built in the 1860s but not the Lautner. Is it near Tolstoy Ranch Road?

Scott Cueto(Daddy) and or Presley Cueto(Son) said...

Hello! Are you by chance Mrs. Brooks Cavin?, Mr. Cavin being formerly a professor of architecture at Cal Poly Pomona? I was a student of his back in 1998-2000, so was my wife, we attended an Architectural Exchange program in Paris the summer of 2000 with him, and we both have the fondest memories of him both as a gentleman and an educator, if so please send our warmest regards! The Tolstoy House is very close to the Tolstoy Mansion, it was carved out of the original family land, but it is hidden from the street and may even have a gate now. Send me an e-mail at scottcueto at inorbit dot com and I can tell you exactly where it is.