Ralph A. Vaughn

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1212 Westchester Pl., a Dramatic Expression of Ralph Vaughn's "Modernist" Manifesto, 

is Now Available Sold after 46 Years
The property has had only two owners.  Now it has a third!


(Soon, this site will be devoted to the architect's life and accomplishments.  When it's started, we will ask for your input.)

1212 Westchester Place, in the historic and centrally located Country Club Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, was built in 1948, designed by Ralph A. Vaughn at almost the half-way mark in the architect’s long and remarkable life.  As a devoted “Modernist,” Vaughn had the courage—and willing clients in Dr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Griffin—to design a house stripped of every architectural detail that would identify it as a rendition of either a period piece or another “fantasy” design mimicking Hollywood’s exotic movie stage sets.  If there is any deference to a predecessor, it would be to the art deco movement.

The surviving blueprints for the home suggest one major indecisiveness by the clients in that there are two versions, a single story as well as the two-story which was ultimately built.  Unfortunately, we don’t know the economic context within which the home was designed, whether costs were an issue at any time, but, eventually the 2-story version was chosen. (*See below for further and most probable explanation.) The other details between the two sets of drawings  seem merely to resolve practical solutions, such as placing of a stairway to the staff’s bedroom, the addition of a soffit, etc. 

The residence has had only two owners and there appears to be no significant physical changes in the home.  It was designed as a mini-estate, with two separate living areas, the formal residence in front which looked out to the “play pavilion” in the rear.  Even the play pavilion was to be 2-stories in one drawing but that was eventually changed to a single story.

The residence, for the late 40’s, had the sophisticated, up-scale features of a very modern home. Its interior looking  to the rear with walls of glass, open patios and its assumption of sunny Southern California weather throughout the year.  It had an indoor reflecting “pool” stretching from the living room fireplace to a complementary pool on the patio. 

On the second floor there are four bedrooms, the largest bedroom being for Mrs. Griffin, which has its own balcony, and a smaller bedroom for Dr. Griffin.  There is also a bedroom and bath for a staff member, reached by a separate stairway.  The original sitting room off the stair landing has been enclosed as a separate bedroom. The “sleeping porch” appears not to have ever been open as planned.

The first floor includes a circular powder room, a bedroom/convertible den with bath, a formal dining room, large living room and a game alcove with a sunken planting area.  Three of the social areas are tied together by a sinuous soffit with recessed neon lighting, reminiscent of the upper-scale public areas in commercial projects in which Vaughn participated.

The fireplace mantle is of special interest because Vaughn shows an attention to detail by combining the mantle and one side of the very modern mantle with an abrupt cut-off, finished by a single column of stacked brick.

The play pavilion is a large, spacious entertainment center which includes its own barbecuing fireplace, wet bar, three-quarter bath and built-in sitting banquette.

The new owners of 1212 Westchester Place are buying a very special residence, with important ties to the history of both the modernist movement in Los Angeles and the achievements of a multi-talented African-American architect.


*One explanation for the dual plans is suggested in Merry Ovnick's book Los Angeles: The End of the Rainbow.  She writes, "...if one were viewing Los Angeles in 1948, one would have to consider the role of government regulation.  Regulations on price, size, financing, permits, and materials curbed expression.  They channeled building toward small houses and apartment houses.  They limited price and size...They favored stylistic references to historic traditions."  So, Vaughn and his clients may have had the smaller, one-story version ready just in case they couldn't get the larger, two-story version approved.  Note, also, even their "modernism" was going against the bureaucratic grain favoring "historic traditions."

Information is provided as a convenience but not guaranteed.  Buyers must verify.




              Ralph A. Vaughn

                 1907 - 2000 

What Was Happening in 1948?
While Vaughn was designing and building 1212 Westchester Place, history was being made in other ways:
The Frisbee was invented
George Orwell published "1984" (In 1948, of course)
Milton Berle started the TV boom in American on NBC's Texaco Star Theate
Superman first appeared in a movie, a 15-part serial
MacDonald's was founded in San Bernardino
Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated
The State of Israel was founded
First presidential conventions were televised along with Truman's upset election 

1212 Westchester Place is sold

but we have others

in almost every price range

Represented by

Ruby Gill

James Dunham

Call 310-278-9470


Questions About Getting Your House in the Movies?

From Los Angeles' early history, movie makers have used Los Angeles homes for a variety of purposes.  Houses in the Country Club Park neighborhood continued to be used for both movies and commercials.  All architectural styles have a chance. To learn more about how houses are selected, how much your house might be worth for movie or commercial use, you can go to the private, non-profit Facts About Film L.A., Inc.  Jeoffrey Smith is their director of community relations and can either answer your questions or direct you to someone who can.  His telephone number is (213) 977-8600.   

Click here to go to their web site.

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