Henry Gesner-Designed Boat House Lists in Los Angeles-DIRT


In the late 1950s, Los Angeles landowner Ronald Buck approached self-taught midcentury architect Harry Gesner about the prospect of designing several dwellings for a series of steep, narrow- and allegedly unprofitable – hillside lots he acquired in the Hollywood Hills, high above Cahuenga Pass. Always ready for a challenge, Gesner came up with the idea for a range of small cantilever, cabin -like structures that have since become known as “boats.”

Gesner’s first business sequence: the gathering of a crew of Norwegian shipbuilders who had just moved to the U.S. to build houses, whose workers used hand axes rather than jigsaw to complete timber frames and woodwork. The result? Twelve dense and two -story dwellings are perched on adjoining pier supports. Almost identical, they are complete with dramatically cut gable roofs, deep hanging eaves, unpainted siding, wood beam ceilings, glass walls and balconies.

All the houses rested on a foundation, each about 25 feet of land; and naturally, they all have a striking resemblance to-you guessed it-a boat!

Over the years, the notable Hollywood Hills residences have made cameos in TV shows such as “The Kominsky Method”; they have also been featured on various celebs, from bathing suit designer Fred Cole to “The Alienist” actor Brian Geraghty.

Now, in what is said to be a rare occurrence, one of those boathouses has appeared for sale, asking for just over $ 1 million. Listed by Jimmy Town of Keller Williams Realty Los Feliz, the property last sold for $ 452,000 in 2011, and features two bedrooms and a bath on more than 1,100 square feet of living space.

Directly off the street, the boathouse is in front of an open carport; the door to the second floor opened. Inside, the open-plan interiors are immediately highlighted by a TV-viewing platform accessible via a large shag-carpeted step. An adjacent gallery-style kitchen features a slanted, sky-lit ceiling and refinished cabinetry, and updated countertops, backsplash, and stainless appliances.

From there, a dining area connects to a spacious living room that boasts an exposed-beam-shaped trapezoid ceiling and fireplace. A wall of sliding glass doors plunges into a long but thin balcony offering panoramic San Gabriel Valley and tree-top views.

A wooden staircase travels to the lower floor, containing an office space with custom built-in and jalousie windows, plus a main bedroom that hosts a platform bed placed up to the built-in shelves. A set of steps also leads to a newly renovated bath equipped with storage nooks, and a period Heath Ceramics tile shower and built-in planter.

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