from original brochure, 1951
 
Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice, California
nominated for
The Californai Register of Historical Resources
Hearing: Aug 5 2005 in Sacramento

Determined and recommended 2003 by the 
State Historical Resources Commission eligible for listing on The National Register of Historic Places

 

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1951 BROCHURE
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DESCRIPTION

Summary
Lincoln Place is a large multi-family garden apartment complex built in a park-like setting throughout a contiguous 38-acre area in the beach community of Venice, California. The site plan is rooted in the English Garden City Movement.  These bungalow court/garden apartments were built from 1949 to 1951 and feature both International Style and Moderne architectural elements. The architectural firm of Wharton & Vaughn was hired to design the development, with Ralph Vaughn of the firm leading the design team.

A careful orchestration of small gardens, courts, and common grounds was shaped by the architectural grouping of 52 apartment building blocks, containing a total of 795 one- and two-bedroom apartment units. In addition, there were approximately 90 one-story parking structures that included carports, garages and attached laundry rooms, along the alleys of the complex.  In addition about five detached small communal laundry buildings were scattered throughout the property, echoing the apartment building blocks in design and materials.  Over 350 mature trees cover the site.

The units are defined by the bold geometric shapes framing the apartment entrances and the geometric shapes of the windows and openings to the balconies.  Further, the buildings were given special design attention by varying the entrances, window designs and balconies, creating much more variation than is typical of developments of this size. Lincoln Place was built to provide luxury living to the low to moderate income household.  It has continually fulfilled this function through the present, although there have been various corporate owners of the property.

Integrity 
Until recently, the complex was in original condition.  Today, one perimeter building block has been altered and seven more perimeter buildings have been demolished, leaving 44 of the original 52 residential building blocks in original condition. There have been no visible additions or changes to the exterior or interior of these buildings since they were built.  Not even the doors or windows have been changed. In addition, about 15 of the original 90 original parking structures were demolished along with the demolition of the aforementioned perimeter building blocks.  These were adjacent to the demolished building blocks. Still, the remaining laundry buildings and garage structures scattered throughout the property are in original condition, although some garage doors have been added to the carports.  There has been no infill, and the original walkways, character-defining green open spaces, the communal grassy courtyard, and other features of the site plan maintain their original appearance.  No structures have replaced the demolished buildings.  This Registration Form seeks historic district eligibility for the buildings and for the site plan comprising Lincoln Place, acknowledging that the one renovated building block does not contribute to the districtís significance.

Location and Setting
The complex is located a half-block east of Lincoln Blvd, a major commercial street that runs north and south from Santa Monica through Venice and is less than a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean. It is bounded by Lake Avenue to the North, Frederick Street on the West, Penmar Avenue on the East, and an alley one block north of Palms Blvd on the South. Within easy walking distance are two elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, a park, a supermarket, and dozens of mom and pop and chain businesses.  Despite  the relatively high density of Lincoln Place itself, it maintains a tranquil setting.  The site plan protected the feel of community by means of specific zones for resident car traffic and pedestrians, with most of the car traffic behind the buildings in small alleys leading to carports and garages. There is virtually no through traffic.  The buildings are grouped to give the occupant a feeling of intimacy and to give privacy to each dwelling.  A sketch map depicting the site plan is attached hereto.

The seven perimeter buildings that were demolished were on the border streets, Lake Avenue and Frederick Street.  The attached site plan indicates the location of these buildings.

Method of Construction, Size and Significant Features
Curved walkways lead from the street into the courtyards and then to the building entrances.  These wood-trimmed stucco buildings are visually distinctive, although there are basically seven building prototypes:

  • A two story duplex, with an enclosed staircase at the end of the building connecting the upper apartment and the lower apartment and running from the front or "inner" courtyard to the back or "outer" courtyard.
  • A two story fourplex, with four two bedroom apartments.  One common staircase in the middle of the building connects the two upstairs apartments, with the two lower apartments.
  • A two story fourplex, with four one bedroom apartments, again sharing a single staircase in the middle of the building which runs from the inner courtyard to the outer courtyard.
  • A two story fourplex with two one bedroom and two two bedroom apartments.  These two have a common enclosed staircase in the middle of the building.
  • A one story bungalow.  Each of these has two bedrooms.
  • A one story communal laundry building.
  • A stand alone one story parking structure.
Many of the two bedroom ground level units have patios.  Nearly all one bedroom units have balconies or patios. 

The two story buildings are joined side by side or at right angles with others to form building blocks, with the buildings uniquely staggered, decreasing shared wall space, increasing surfaces for windows, and allowing for visibility of the strong architectural elements of the windows and balconies.  The site plan combines "U,"  "L,"  "Z," and "C" shaped plans along with linear plans.  The "U" and "C" plans create garden entrance courts.  Attached to the end of most of the "U"-shaped and some of the linear building block structures is a one-story bungalow.  The one-story bungalows provide variation in height of the buildings, make for a smooth transition to the neighborhood of one-story single family residences that surround the area, and serve, in some cases, to further enclose the interior courtyards and in others, to define corner spaces.  Approximately one half of the building blocks have one-story bungalows attached, which are distributed throughout the property. 

The garages and car ports face the alleys that run behind the housing courts. There are approximately seven hundred enclosed garages spaces and carport spaces in the one-story parking structures.  In addition, there are about 23 uncovered off-street parking spaces along the alleys.  There are no fences or other barriers between the complex and the surrounding community.  Patios have low sitting cement block barriers, as originally designed, but otherwise there are no fences or other barriers between the apartment building blocks. 

Lincoln Place has slightly-pitched hip roofs with generous overhangs.  The roofs are built up with tar paper, tar and gravel. The façades of many of the buildings are multi-planed creating visually distinctive buildings. The bold geometric arrangements of the wood and the stucco framed entrances are varied, providing additional individual character to each building.   Above each entrance is a large dramatic window or group of windows.  These wood casement windows are in most cases etched or frosted. They provide a flood of light to the second floor landings and like the wood and/or stucco trimmed  entrances, they too vary in design treatments.  The variety of designs for the windows include, for example:

  • a large square window;
  • three narrow horizontal windows;
  • two narrow vertical windows;
  • a vertical rectangle next to two small squares;
  • a vertical row of three small squares;
  • four small square windows arranged to form a square; and
  • for the largest glazed area, a section of twelve square windows with narrow painted mullions, forming a continuous opening from above the entry-way to inches from the roof.


Interiors
The floor plans of the apartments feature convenient and logical arrangements with rooms of modern proportions, including a well planned and efficient kitchen, a relatively large living room, and a hall leading to bedrooms and bath areas.  Most of the apartments, save for the one building block that has been altered, contain the original hardwood floors, although some are carpeted.  Kitchens and bathrooms contain the original 4-inch ceramic tiles laid in various two tone color schemes, for example, lime green with lemon yellow or rust with beige.  The kitchens are closed off from the living room by one door and also feature a service door.  One unique feature is two large windows, which bring in a flood of light into the kitchen. There are built-in cabinets made of wood and in some units the original built-in breakfast nook and table remain.  Living rooms generally face grassy courtyards and gardens, and enjoy the generous light provided by large windows.  Two bedroom apartments are fitted with built-in book shelves. 

Two-bedroom units have four closets, one a small walk-in. Most of the one?bedroom units have patios or balconies overlooking the courtyard, and many ground level two-bedroom units have patio areas.  Bathrooms are equipped with a tiled pullman sink with a shower over the bathtub and some still have the original glass partition, with frosted designs that echo the windows above the entrances on some of the buildings.  Walls are of lathe and plaster and all doors are noise proof slab doors.

Altered Building Block
Until 2001, Lincoln Place was completely intact.  Then one building block was altered, as shown in photograph #39.  It maintains the eave dimensions and roof slope of the original design.  However, the unique façade details of the original design were eradicated,  balconies and bathroom towers were added thereby interfering with the buildingís original façade, and the service entrance was closed off.  Also, the yard was enclosed, taking away from the visual impact of the open green plan of the original and discouraging interaction with neighbors.  In the interior of the one altered building block, the walls between the kitchens and living rooms were removed and replaced with counters, the original tiles were replaced, closets were converted to bathrooms and an additional bedroom and bathroom suites were added.

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