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


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Entire State Application
2002 National Register Nomination, endorsed by State Historic Resources Commission, returned for additional info from National Register Keeper
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Text of Nomination to the 
California Register of Historical Resources


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.

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.

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.


Lincoln Place is eligible for listing in the California Register of Historic Resources under Criterion One because it is a significant and concrete example of efforts to promote the welfare of society, and to develop and design the physical structure of a community, in response to the critical housing shortage facing the nation after World War II.  Lincoln Placeís association with the governmentís unprecedented involvement in multi-family affordable housing during this important period is significant and represents the very best of the efforts made to address an important social problem.

Lincoln Place also qualifies for listing on the California Register at the local level of significance under Criterion Three, as a good example of the large multi-family garden apartment property type in Los Angeles based on the planning and design principles of the Garden City and Modern Movements. These two significant styles of architecture and planning would shape both housing design and community site planning in the 20th Century. 


Social History - Critical Housing Shortage 
During World War II, there was a shortage of housing for war workers.  After the War, due to the demobilization of veterans and the lack of building during the War, the problem grew even more acute.  It was described in the media as a "national emergency." An article in the August 26, 1946 edition of Newsweek reported on the housing shortage and its impact on the morale of returning veterans. 

Outside a Los Angeles veteranís housing office, a woman and two little girls slept in a dilapidated car.  Inside, a gaunt young veteran, his suit rumpled and his eyes red-rimmed from lack of rest, blew up:  "Iíve been living like this with my wife and two kids for six months and Iíve damn well had enough of it.  There are thousands of others like meÖ."  He was only one of an estimated 40,000 veterans with families in Los Angeles who needed a home, only one of several million in the nation in the same plight.  Patience had long since proved expendable.

Veterans grew even more frustrated as they watched builders continue to build commercial buildings, in a period of reported shortages.  Developers acknowledged that they were using scarce resources on more lucrative commercial projects, but complained that rent control, coupled with the shortage of building materials, discouraged builders from building the low to moderate income housing developments needed to serve the mass market.  Production of all types of building materials such as lumber and nails had been curtailed during the War in favor of war production. Investment in rental housing was even more acutely affected by these conditions, as investors were reluctant to build rental housing because of the long term possibility that the cost of producing residential buildings would decrease in the future when materials were more readily available and costs stabilized at a lower level.  At least with housing built for sale, the builder would dispose of it more immediately in the then current market and the risk of decline in value would be assigned to the purchaser.

Federal Government Response - Section 608 and FHA Guidelines for Rental Housing

Section 608
One of the major steps taken by Congress in response to this national emergency was to liberalize Section 608 of Title VI of the National Housing Act of 1934 to further stimulate investment in low and moderate income rental housing.  (Originally, Section 608 was a 1942 addition to Title VI of the National Housing Act and was intended to increase the number of rental units for defense workers.)  This program was unique in that it encouraged private rather than public housing, encouraged rental rather than property to be sold to the general public and encouraged developers to develop low to moderate income housing.  Because it addressed all three of these areas during a period in which private enterprise was very reluctant to build low and moderate income rental housing, it was unique among governmental programs during this critical time period in our history.

While one other Federal Housing Authority ("FHA") financing program, Section 207 also was designed to finance low to moderate income rental privately owned housing, language in the postwar amendments to Section 608 made it the leading stimulus in motivating developers to build low to moderate income rental housing in the United States at the time.  Indeed, between 1946 and 1952, 80% of FHA sponsored developments comprised of five or more rental housing units were insured under Section 608.  In the post war amendments to Section 608, amortization of Section 608 mortgages was reduced so as to lengthen the maturity by five years or longer.  Working capital requirements were reduced.  A high loan to value ratio, a liberal valuation of the land and a high estimate of development costs translated into profits for developers.  Forms were simplified and procedures were streamlined to facilitate quick action on applications.  For example, the amendments to Section 608 made it possible for developers to "estimate" their costs with no verification at a later point in the project.  There were resulting windfalls, intentional for some developers, but accidental for others as postwar materials prices dropped.  In any event, the result was the possibility of developing a large development with very little capital and, in America, it represented an unprecedented governmental sponsored boost in promoting private development of affordable housing.

As was stated in Where We Live:  A Social History of American Housing by Irving Welfeld, "The program succeeded beyond all expectations.  Four hundred sixty thousand units were built (half in four metropolitan areas:  New York City, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles).  Of these approximately 400,000 were built by the end of 1951.  More units were built under the ë608í program in 1950 and 1951 than had been built by all the life insurance companies, limited dividend corporations, semiphilanthropic organizations, and consumer cooperatives."  Robert Schafer, in his The Suburbanization of Multifamily Housing, goes further.  He points out that the rise in multifamily housing starts in 1948-50 was entirely the result of federal financial assistance under Section 608.  Lincoln Place was the largest development financed under this federally backed mortgage insurance program in Los Angeles and in the State of California. 

From 1942-1946, Section 608 mortgage commitments totaled approximately $175 million in multi-family housing.  In 1947, alone mortgage commitments totaled $360 million. It was the largest amount the agency had ever spent in its history since being formed in 1934 as the agency to administer the federal mortgage insurance program and the largest amount sponsored by the government since the 1930ís when the Federal Government first took an active part in promoting housing and first recognized the importance of housing to the general welfare. Lincoln Place is a marker in that history.

FHA Guidelines
In addition to the sheer need to increase the number of housing units, another consideration of Congress at this time was the need to address the shifting demographic of the new industrial work force.  The FHA was also concerned about getting value for the investment and protecting the investment if default occurred and the Government was called to repay the loan of the private mortgagor.  These concerns resulted in the FHA establishing minimum standards dictating both the design and location of housing it insured.  These standards applied to single-family homes insured by the FHA, as well as multi-family rental developments including those constructed under Section 608 and were influential in determining the design of housing and communities in America during the time given the sheer number of mortgages insured through the FHA programs.  The design of Lincoln Place is an almost textbook application of FHA guidelines and the community development and planning principles on which FHA guidelines were based. As Diane Favro, President of the Society of Architectural Historians has commented, "Lincoln Place represents post World War II modernist aspirations in California.  In particular, the project demonstrates how sensitive architects successfully addressed the guidelines of the Federal Housing Authority, producing a design which is notable functionally, socially, and aesthetically."

The design and location requirements adopted by the FHA were influenced by intellectual and design movements in Europe, where the forces of urbanization and industrialization led architects and designers to think about designs that emphasized community. The need to rebuild Europe after World War I gave rise to massive debates and discussions regarding housing policy and resulted in new trends in multi-family housing. These debates and trends influenced policy makers in the United States, where during the depression and during and after World War II there was a similar need for massive housing development, and their location in relation to city centers and work places became part of the ongoing debate.  The two principal architectural movements that developed in Europe in response to this need for massive housing and to the forces of urbanization and industrialization were the English Garden City Movement and the Modern Movement.  Although a discussion of the Garden City and Modern Movements is relevant in this Statement of Significance when discussing the reasons Lincoln Place is eligible for the California Register under Criterion Three, they are reviewed briefly here due to the influence of these Movements in forming FHA policy and are relevant to this discussion insofar as they relate to governmental involvement in the planning of communities and the FHAís active promotion of the new garden apartment property type.

Garden City Influence
An Englishmen, Ebenezer Howard (1850 ? 1928), is widely credited for introducing the Garden City concept in his book, Garden Cities of Tomorrow in 1902 (originally published in 1898 under the title Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform).  In it, he described his vision of the ideal community.  It had 30,000 people (25 families to one acre), who would leave the poverty of city conditions caused by capitalism and the Industrial Age to create a new community commonly owned through a limited-dividend company.  The town would include the best of the country, that is open spaces and gardens, and the advantages of the city, intellectually stimulating activities and opportunities.  He diagramed his ideal town as a series of concentric circles devoted to areas of houses and surrounding gardens.  A large park, public buildings and commercial shops formed the center of the city, while an outer area contained industrial buildings and linked the city to an outlying area designated for growing food, which also served as the boundary of the community.  Fresh air, light, open space and gardens were essential elements of the unified plan of architectural and landscape design.  His ideas of common ownership of the community were not as influential in the United States as his ideas about the physical form of the new settlements.

These site planning ideas spread to the United States in the 1920s.  Garden City principles were promoted as a basis for metropolitan expansion in the United States by among others, the Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA), a group formed in 1923 for this purpose.  It consisted of architects, engineers, economists and sociologists and would be responsible for the design of many of the early American garden suburbs.    Key features of the Garden City Movement that found their way in FHA guidelines included the idea of superblocks consisting of large common green spaces, separation of pedestrian and automobile traffic, and access to community facilities.

Modern Movement Influence
An equally important influence on the design of multi-family rental housing was the Modern Movement and its emphasis on improved minimum standards, functionalism, standardized building techniques, and a new way of living. Catherine Bauer, one of the founding members of the RPAA studied these ideas in Europe in 1930 and she noted that architectural modernism, later reduced, in her view, to simply a "style" was initially a broad idealistic movement aimed at "improving human environment in modern industrial society." 

The ideas of the Modern Movement originating in Europe and thereafter widely discussed in the United States were that modern technology could be used to mass produce housing and would allow for less household work, for example.  Further, the modernist approach was to use direct solutions and scientific knowledge to create housing.  So, form would follow function.  With modern construction it was cheaper and more efficient to build apartments as opposed to individual houses.  Rooms should be easy to care for.  Rooms should have varied uses.  New materials, often scientifically developed, would be used to make buildings stronger and cheaper and would allow for new spaciousness.  Although FHA guidelines did not set up standards of architectural styles, many of these modern concepts were also reflected in FHA publications on housing developments. Certainly, there seemed to be, one, an appreciation of the modernists ideas captured by Bauer and two, a recognition that the new Modernist style in many ways more readily conformed to the standards of the FHA than dwellings in other styles.

Lincoln Place - Textbook Application of FHA Guidelines 
A FHA pamphlet, Planning Rental Housing Projects, published in 1947 illustrated suggested apartment plan types for Section 207 and Section 608 projects.  It recommended that the location of rental housing developments were to be "not far from business districts of a city," that the location be in a "distinctly residential area," which promises to retain "good character," that the living unit appeal to a "stable rather than a temporary tenancy," and that the tenants income and ability to pay rent not be solely "dependent on the success and continuity of a single industry."   Lincoln Place Apartments were in a distinctly residential area near important west end points such as Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Westwood, Santa Monica, and Culver City, close to varied major work locations such as Douglas Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, Veterans Hospital, Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century-Fox, and the City Dept. of Airports, and in an area promising to retain good character, with a stable rather than a temporary tenancy, all in keeping with FHA guidelines.  A Lincoln Place brochure for the early years of its existence described the surrounding community: 

Away from the salt-air atmosphere characteristic of beach locations, Lincoln Place  ideally situated in a new section of the healthful, smog-free Westside area, easily accessible from all locations.  Public transportation, shopping centers, churches, 
grade schools and high schools are all within convenient walking distance.  Also, branch of the Los Angeles Public Library across the streetÖ.

All the units were residential, and the complex welcomed families with children.  Its clean air and central location further ensured its ability to retain "good character" with a "stable" tenancy.

The units were set back from the street and the design emphasized courtyards, just as favored by the FHA.   The curved pedestrian paths followed the FHA prescription for "curved walks."  The garages and parking areas of Lincoln Place were placed behind the buildings and along alleys, as suggested by the FHA.  FHA guidelines advised that each building be arranged in such a manner that the service elements were adjacent to those of its neighbors, and the living space face the living space of the neighbor, thereby eliminating nuisances.   Again, the design of Lincoln Place met the standards of the FHA.  All the service functions are contemplated from the back door in the kitchen, and each kitchen faces an outer courtyard and is directly across the hallway from the kitchen of the neighboring unit. 

In addition to meeting the FHAís design requirements, the distinctive touches gave each building its own character.  Yet, the design had "architectural unity," which was preferred by the FHA.  The uniquely staggered building blocks create visual variation. The individual apartment buildings comprising a building block are staggered and combined to form a "U,"  "L,"  "C,"  "Z," or linear plan to avoid monotony.  The one story bungalows at the end of most of the "U" and linear shaped configurations, and the one story laundry buildings, provide height variation and bring air space into play.  The openings to the balconies include rectangular and square shapes placed asymmetrically on the building wall, adding to the visual variation of the units.  The wood and/or stucco treatments framing building entrances are varied.  In addition, some of the entrance treatments are recessed, while others are flush with the building, and some form a relief.  The treatments for windows above each entrance vary, with a number of possible design configurations.  By mixing the varied window treatments above each entrance with the various entrances, the design teams were able to achieve innumerable building designs. The multi-planed façades add to the visual distinctiveness of the individual apartment buildings comprising Lincoln Place. 

The FHA regulations for Planning Rental Housing Projects called for simple, direct designs which relied upon "mass, scale and proportion" for their effect and avoided "over ornamentation" or a "startling use of materials."  The FHA recommended that open space be concentrated into large areas so that light, air and an "agreeable outlook" could be provided for most rooms. The buildings comprising Lincoln Place were a combination of rectangular and vertically-shaped simple buildings that created interest and variety by judicious arrangement of the building masses, finding strong design elements in the shape of the buildings.   The concentrated open spaces of Lincoln Place let in light and allowed air to circulate within the area and the individual units. The staggered buildings allowed for windows to be placed where there might have otherwise been shared wall space, thereby further increasing the amount of light that entered the units and the ventilation.   Further, most living rooms were planned to face grassy and landscaped courtyards.

The FHA recommended "simple plans" using rooms of "desirable proportions" and "convenient" and "logical" arrangements.  The design for Lincoln Place does just that. The living room and kitchen were grouped together near the entrance and the bedrooms and bath area were grouped together in a more remote location. The living rooms were relatively large, with large windows, which allowed for a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing room that could combine several of the functions of living.  With comfortable and well-proportioned one and two bedrooms, the architects of Lincoln Place successfully interpreted federal design guidelines for multi-family housing.   FHA guidelines suggested good ventilation and natural lighting were important for the kitchen, as the kitchen would be used during a great part of each day.  The kitchens in Lincoln Place have two large windows, which allow for natural lighting and good ventilation. 

One of the original developers, as well as a draftsman on the project recall the FHA sent developers of other projects to see Lincoln Place to see the quality that could be achieved in housing developments of this nature.  The architects who designed Lincoln Place were leading architects for FHA projects, designing over 2,000 units throughout the Southern California from 1947-1951. 

Community Planning and Development - The Los Angeles Story
In 1941, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission issued a report that defined guiding principles of future development.  It set forth a policy of a decentralized city with regional hubs and low density development.  Downtown Los Angeles would simply be one of many commercial hubs.  Los Angeles Airport opened on the west side of the city in 1947.  By 1940, Douglas Aircraft had a facility and airstrip less than a mile from the Lincoln Place site.  Lincoln Place was a major residential development designed to serve the Santa Monica Bay community, an important west side regional hub.

When the construction permit for Lincoln Place was issued in 1949, local press heralded the development as an extraordinarily large project that would make a significant difference for many new families in need of housing.   Several newspapers during this period ran articles following the development of the project and announcing its opening, indicating the size, scale and quality were important events of the time.  An adjacent 24-acre recreation and 7-acre shopping area was planned contemporaneously with the development of Lincoln Place. The recreation center and shopping center were oriented to Lincoln Place units, so that, in the words of one newspaper article, " all residents Ö[would] enjoy easy access to stores and playgrounds."  A movie theatre followed just north of the shopping center on Lincoln Boulevard. For several weeks after Lincoln Placeís grand opening, both local and city-wide newspapers ran articles detailing the "luxury" design and popularity of Lincoln Place.  According to an article in the Los Angeles Examiner, "A feature proving especially attractive to families with children, builders say, is the ëindoor-outdoorí design of all apartments which integrates spacious lawns and play areas with the apartments and outdoor porches.  The arrangement gives children plenty of outdoor freedom with easy access to and from living areas."   Lincoln Place was credited with spawning many retail developments in the area, making Lincoln Boulevard the retail center of the community.  To this day, this area is one of the busiest commercial corridors in the Santa Monica Bay area. 

The history of Lincoln Place is the history of housing policy and planning in the United States in response to the shortage of housing after World War II and to the challenges wrought by urbanization and industrialization of our country in the first half of that century.  It was the biggest housing project in California built under the historic FHA housing program.  Its scale was important in the development of the community in Los Angeles immediately after World War II.  It remains a text book application of Federal guidelines for building residential rental units for low to moderate income tenants and is one of the few remaining in tact large multi-family rental units of its kind on the Westside of Los Angeles. Today, it continues to fulfill its original purpose, to provide community for the modern family working in varied industries along the Santa Monica Bay communities in a time and in a location where affordable rental housing is in critical demand.


Architectural and Site Planning Significance
Independent of their influence over design requirements of federal housing schemes, the Garden City and Modern Movements stand out as important innovations in community site planning and architectural design that would strongly influence the development of multi-family housing in the United States, whether privately or publicly sponsored. The design of Lincoln Place is strongly representative of the large multi-family garden apartment property type rooted in the Garden City Movement and is of particular interest in its application of Garden City principles to the social and economic conditions of Los Angeles in the late 1940s and in the way that it incorporates elements of Modern design.  The architectural design and detailing of Lincoln Place is strongly representative of Modernist design, featuring both International Style and Moderne elements. Accordingly, it is urged that Lincoln Place be deemed eligible for listing on the California Register of Historic Resources under Criterion Three, in addition to its eligibility under Criterion One.

The Architects and Relevant Experience Leading to Lincoln Place
It had been widely believed that Heth Wharton (1892-1958), a Los Angeles based architect active from the twenties through the forties, was the sole architect responsible for the designs of Lincoln Place.  New evidence indicates that noted black architect Ralph Vaughn (1907-2000) actually led the design team on Lincoln Place.  Gerald Bialac, one of the developers of the project says that "It was our intention to build the finest and largest FHA-insured project in the country-using the highest building standards, the best site-plan and creating eminently livable spaces in an aesthetically beautiful environment.  We looked at garden style apartments throughout the Southland in order to find the very best architect working in that area.  Ralph Vaughn was far and away the best.  He had not only the best footprints but had an incredible flair for design and an ability to deliver affordable housing that looked and felt like luxury housing.  We were a perfect fit.  We did not know at the time that Ralph was African-American but it would not have mattered to us.  We later received death threats for working with a black architect but that did not stop us." 

At the time, Vaughn did not have his architectsí license and when he was asked by a contractor to design Lincoln Place, an FHA insured project, he teamed up with Wharton to form Wharton & Vaughn Associates.  Allen Mock, a draftsman who worked in the office at the time and who is now a practicing architect, says that Vaughn was primarily responsible for the planning and the design of all of the projects in the office and Wharton served primarily as the project manager.

Vaughn had worked with Wharton as a set designer at MGM during the War.  Wharton was known for his liberal political views and he welcomed the opportunity to partner with a black designer.  In addition, their design approaches were complementary.  As a licensed architect, he designed homes for many prominent clients, including a house in Malibu for screenwriters Sonya Levien and Carl Hovey.  This home was on the Standard Oil Postcard for many years.  He also designed homes for members of the Uplifters Club in Santa Monica. In 1949, he completed a fashion atelier and apartment for the noted Hollywood costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenberg and his wife, actress Janet Gaynor.  He participated in at least two residential competitions, receiving an award in one and an honorable mention in another.  His work appeared in several architectural publications, including Pacific Coast Architect, Southwest Building and Contractor, California Arts & Architecture, and The Architect and Engineer. In 1927, he designed Glendon Manor in Westwood Village, which is listed on the California Register of Historical Resources.  He attended Harvard University School of Architecture from 1915-1917 as a special student, indicating he was already an experienced practitioner in the field. From 1913-1915, Wharton worked in the office of Myron Hunt, one of the most prominent architects in Southern California during this time.

Vaughn was well-versed in Modernist architecture and housing policy.  He was a committed member of the group of architects who believed architecture could solve social problems by providing livable space that gave residents a sense of belonging.  He was mentored by a key pioneer in public housing and adherent to Bauhaus design and the Garden City Movement.  Vaughn was also an artist who saw architecture as a creative endeavor.  All these experiences informed the design of Lincoln Place, which is apart of a sophisticated evolution of the Garden City Movement with direct lineage to the work of Clarence Stein, the major proponent of this movement in the United States. 

Vaughnís father, Roscoe Vaughn was an architect and one of the early black Washingtonians in the field.  In 1924, Roscoe Vaughn set up an architectural firm in Washington, D.C. with George A. Ferguson, the first native black Washingtonian to receive an architectural degree in an accredited program.  Both also taught at Armstrong Manual Training School and developed a course of study that helped the Armstrong program gain a reputation as a "feeder" for Howard Universityís architectural program in the 1920ís and 1930ís.

Ralph Vaughn, the designer of Lincoln Place and the son of Roscoe Vaughn, graduated from the University of Illinois in 1932, earning a Bachelor of Science in architecture.  While at the University of Illinois, he worked on several student projects with famed modernists William Pereira and Charles Luckman, who were Vaughnís contemporaries at the school and would go on to form a successful partnership from 1950 to 1958, designing many buildings defining the Southern California landscape.

After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1932, Vaughn was an instructor of architecture at Howard University in Washington, D.C., at which time he worked with and was mentored by two professors who were key figures in the emerging garden apartment movement, Albert I. Cassell and Hilyard Robinson.  Cassell is known for his design of the award-winning Mayfair Mansions garden apartments in northeast Washington D.C., which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. While in Cassellís office, Vaughn contributed to the design of a science laboratory at Howard University and also the Universityís Founders Library.

Hilyard Robinson was especially important in Vaughnís development as a designer of garden apartments.  While pursuing a Masters in architecture from Columbia University in 1931, Robinsonís interest in housing was bolstered by the work of Henry Wright and Clarence S. Stein, who in 1923 founded with several others, the RPAA to promote Garden City principles as a basis for metropolitan expansion in the United States.  Robinson was especially intrigued by their development at Radburn, the seminal project derived from the Garden City principles, which was started in 1928 in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Radburn included single family houses, two family homes, townhomes, semi-attached houses and a 93 unit apartment building. Robinson said of Radburn, that this "pleasant, relaxing, and children-oriented" community stimulated him to translate the concepts of a planned community of comfortable housing to crowded, lower-income areas.

In the summer of 1925, Robinson had visited the housing exhibition at Frankfurt, which included the work of Walter Gropius, Mies van de Rohe and Marcel Breur, leading Bauhaus architects who were instrumental in defining the International style.  In 1931 through 1932 Robinson studied in Berlin with Gropius and Breuer.  During this period, he also traveled to the birthplace of public housing, Amsterdam and Rotterdam where he observed first hand what he called the "inexhaustible archives of the engineering, economics and politics of housing." 

Well-versed in public housing concepts in 1932 he returned to the United States, and in 1934 was invited to become a senior consultant to the U.S. Resettlement Administration ("RA"), part of President Franklin D. Rooseveltís New Deal.  Robinson went on to design eight major housing projects in various cities, at least two of which are on the National Register.  The first of these housing developments was the Langston Terrace Housing, the first federally funded low-cost housing project in the District of Columbia, which today is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

On the 40th Anniversary of Langston Terrace, Robinson recalled to a group of residents the Queen of Holland had visited Langston Terrace and paid it the highest compliments, saying in substance he recalled, "Your Langston Terrace project pays high compliment to my country.  It is a most orderly, practical and beautiful project in every respect.  I must say it reminds me of some of our very best community housing in Holland.  Let me thank and congratulate you."

Ralph Vaughn, the designer of Lincoln Place and at the time of Langston Terrace, a recent architecture school graduate, worked together with Robinson on the Langston Terrace project serving as the chief draftsman.  A model of the development was exhibited at New Yorkís Museum of Modern Art.  Louis Mumford, another founding member of the RPAA, writing in The New Yorker magazine in 1938 wrote that Langston Terrace set a high standard of design.  It was described in a tribute to Robinson published in the Washington Post after Robinson died in 1986 as "elegant architecture and landscape, state of-the-art amenities, meticulous upkeep, lively architecture and warm, community living." 

During the time that Vaughn  worked for the RA with Robinson,  the RA provided funding for the world-renowned Greenbelt Project in Maryland, a cooperative residential development designed by Clarence Stein and his RPAA colleagues.  Today, Greenbelt is in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

From Stein to Hilyard Robinson to Ralph Vaughn and others, we see the evolution of Garden City planning principles. In his influential book, Toward New Towns for America, Stein emphasized that the Garden City principles would evolve over time to respond to new conditions.  Stein was the consulting architect on the leading garden apartments in Los Angeles, the Baldwin Hills Village, now known as Village Green, today a National Historic Landmark.  In Los Angeles, Stein noted the principles would be adapted to respond to the dominance of the automobile.  He also noted that given the past control of housing by speculative subdividers and speculative builders throughout Los Angeles, it was not always possible to avoid the more gridiron pattern of streets favored by city officials in spite of dangers to pedestrians.  He also noted that the sunny temperate climate of Los Angeles invited outdoor living, which would dictate closer contact between the inside and outside of the house and a freer and more informal lifestyle.  Village Green built in 1942 is a marker in that history.

Allen Mock, tells how Vaughn took the design team working on Lincoln Place over to Village Green on a number of occasions so that they could have "a sense of the type of design that we were aiming for.  He felt it was the best-designed and ?conceived garden community project in Los Angeles and he wanted us to try to duplicate the feeling and atmosphere and even better it.  He wanted to capture the same space, air and light."  And so went the further reflection of the guiding principals of the Garden City Movement as filtered through years of evolution.

In addition to the influences of Clarence Stein and Hilyard Robinson reflected in the design and site planning of Lincoln Place, we see Vaughnís "Hollywood styling" sensibility at work in the design of Lincoln Place.   In 1937,Vaughn had moved to California to work with Paul Williams, who was known as Hollywoodís A-list architect.  During this time, Vaughn was a designer for a number of important Williams projects, including the MCA Building, a Saks Fifth Avenue store addition in Beverly Hills, and residences for many Hollywood celebrities, including Charles Correll (Amos on the radio show Amos ën Andy), Bert Lahr (the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz), comedian Grace Moore, actor Tyrone Power, and tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.  A house Vaughn designed appeared in the  September, 1941 edition of California Arts and Architecture with pictures depicting the house taken by famed Modernist photographer, Julius Shulman. This design put Vaughn into the mainstream of the progressive architectural community in southern California during the time. 

During the War years, Vaughn became a senior set designer at MGM Studios, among the first African Americans in this field.  Vaughn worked for the multi-Academy Award winning set designer, Cedric Gibbons.  In addition to war movies, Vaughn also worked on The Last Time I Saw Paris, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, A Guy Named Joe, and Kismet.  In the book, African American Architects:  A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, Dr. Wesley Howard Henderson writes that Vaughn had told him that the movie industry was a strong influence on his work, as well as on the work of other architects in Los Angeles.  This influence is seen in the richness of the façades of Lincoln Place.  Just as we see with the set designs in Hollywood films from the period, the façades of Lincoln Place include plane upon plane of textured surfaces.

During his collaboration with Wharton, Vaughn worked on North Hollywood Manor, Chase Knolls apartments, and Lincoln Place, among other projects.  He went on to design several restaurants and bars, hotels and residences in Arizona, Arkansas, California and Oregon.  He also designed several congregations, including Congregation Beth Am Synagogue and an addition to the Mogen David Synagogue, both in Los Angeles.  He received architectural awards for his work on Beth Am Synagogue and for the design of his own residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles.  Before he received his architectural license in 1963, he was the designated "designer" or "stylist" for projects.  After receiving his license, he received credit as the architect on the projects he designed.

Design Philosophy of Lincoln Place
Although both Vaughn and Wharton had wealthy clients, especially those connected with the film industry, they both believed in designing for everyday working people.  And while they strove to make these projects affordable, they believed everyone had a right to aesthetic value in housing. In Lincoln Place, their ideals for modern living and multi-family dwellings were fully realized. 

Vaughn looked to the Garden City Movement for ideas on creating a community feeling in an urban setting. Although, in the late 1940ís there would be additional challenges in implementing Garden City planning principles. Lincoln Place provides an important example of how the English Garden City principles evolved over time to meet these new conditions. Actually it represents the peak of the evolution in several respects.  In one, it was more economical with space that was increasingly spare, yet it maintained the attributes of Garden City principles.  In another way, it represents the peak of the evolution of the large garden apartment property type in the way, for example, that it individualized every building entrance, in that way improving on many of the projects that preceded it that were uniform.  It also adopted the design language of the Modern style, creating greater interest in the individual buildings comprising the site plan, which were often up to that time in the Colonial Revival style or in the Minimal Traditional style, or in another style.  The Minimal Traditional Style emerged in the 1930s but was most prevalent following World War II from 1946 to 1951, and many of the apartment buildings built during this period reflected this style.

Architect Allen Mock, who as stated earlier worked in the offices of Wharton & Vaughn as a draftsman at the time, says that the design team studied Village Green and was instructed by Vaughn to create the same space, air and light and to make Lincoln Placeís 24 units, per acre feel like Village Greenís eight units, per acre.  Through these efforts, the principles of the Garden City Movement are applied to Lincoln Place, although the increased density requirements of the later construction period of Lincoln Place are met. 

Rather than subdividing the large site into a traditional neighborhood form using a grid-pattern system of streets and blocks, Lincoln Place retains the Garden City planning principle of the "superblock," divided into park space, a series of service drives and cul-de-sacs, and larger, curving streets, with separate circulation systems for pedestrians and automobiles.  Mock explains that although the starting point for the site plan was the street layout proposed by the developer and accepted by the city, Vaughn was successful in getting the city to move the already curving streets even more in order to better realize the flow of air space he was designing and the building configuration he desired. 

Most of the building blocks turn away from the street to face gardens and open green space.  Those that face the street have very deep setbacks.  The green open spaces are accented with the sub-tropical themed landscaping that thrives in southern California and provides a drought resistant interpretation of the green trees that shape the park-like setting advanced by the Garden City Movement. Multi-family interaction is encouraged by the provision of common courtyards, collective parking areas and the 48 communal laundry buildings scattered throughout the property. It maintains the low scale characteristics of the garden apartment type, the highest building only two stories.  Further, it is centrally located, near schools, parks, stores, churches, also an important tenant of Garden City principles. 

As a devoted Modernist, Vaughn designed these multi-family dwellings with clear admiration for the beauty of structural and abstract forms and appreciation for the maxim of Modern architecture that structural forms themselves can be ornamental or have beauty.  The buildings comprising Lincoln Place are modern in style with use of rectangular volumes and standardized elements.  Like Langston Terrace, it is a warm Modern, Langston Terrace with its use of brick and Lincoln Place with its use of wood and stucco.  The roofs are low pitched, unlike the flat roof typical of Modern design.  Some Modernist architects designed hipped roofs that were so low in pitch that they appeared flat, allowing them to qualify for government financing programs under FHA guidelines which frowned on flat roofs. While it may be that Vaughn chose the roof form to comply with FHA preferences, this approach also reflects his emphasis on a contextual design approach, perhaps gleaned from his years working with Paul Williams, a master in contextual design.  Indeed, the low pitched hipped roofs echo the roofs of the single-family homes in the surrounding community. Yet, the even flatter roofs of the laundry buildings and parking structures and other design features create the overall impression of classical Modernist style.  The treatment of the windows above the entrances and the wood and stucco treatments  framing the entrances to the buildings are clearly in the Modernist style, in line with Bauhaus Movement principles, and show a clear appreciation of geometric shapes and forms, also evident in Langston Terrace. The simplistic geometric openings of the balconies are also very much in the Bauhaus tradition.  Yet, one sees the influences of Vaughnís years as a set designer on Hollywood films.  As set designs are never flat but rather are rich and complex, the entrances at Lincoln Place include plane upon plane of textured surfaces.

Monotonous row structures are avoided with the myriad modernist entrance and window designs and the site plan layout of the buildings.  As pointed out by the leading architectural photographer of Modern residences in the country, Julius Shulman, "I was impressed by the design of the individual structures and the varying shapes used to create a plan that provided enhanced privacy and flexibility for the occupants.  Of special significance was his [Ralph Vaughnís] ability to avoid the customary block-shaped apartment building which occurred throughout southern California and his staggering the forms in such a way to create more open spaceÖLincoln Place, with its 795 units is a study in how the application of modernist design principles and Garden City site-planning can create a sense of uniqueness to each space, no matter how large the projectÖ The public would benefit if more new housing projects had the same sensibility to privacy and community as experienced in Lincoln Place."

In Lincoln Place, the floor plans expressed Modernist principles of design ? that the design should provide a functional relation between rooms arranged to suit present day modes of living and facilitate efficient housekeeping.  In early brochures of the complex, these modern architectural features were highlighted:

Architecturally perfect apartment designs that incorporate many desirable features, offer the perfect opportunity for gracious living and organized household with their modern facilities and many spacious closetsÖ.
The living room is the largest room in the apartment and has large windows allowing for lots of light in this multi- functional room.  In the Modernist view, the comfort and aesthetic quality of the large living room would make up for the absence or elimination of a room devoted to more limited functions and requiring more upkeep.    Built-in spacious cabinets and drawer space, a built-in breakfast nook and table, and built-in book shelves added to the efficiency of the apartments and functionality of the interior design. 

The patios and landscaped recreation areas were designed for easy indoor-outdoor living, also in keeping with the principles of the Modernist Movement.  Large windows in the rooms also brought the outside in, as contemplated by Modernists, especially in California.   The view through the glass doors and windows became part of the room and created a sympathetic alliance between the buildings and their natural setting.


The large multi-family garden apartment based on the principles espoused by the RPAA, and grounded in the theories of the Garden City planning principles began to emerge in Los Angeles in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  The only known survey of these properties was a survey conducted in connection with the Tax Certification program application of Chase Knolls Apartment, a modern garden apartment complex in the Sherman Oaks area of the San Fernando Valley in the city of Los Angeles.  The survey was conducted by Christy McAvoy of Historic Resources Group, a leading historic preservation planning, architecture and development services firm in California.  A Multiple Property Listing Services was used and it showed 14 privately owned garden apartments in Los Angeles consisting of one hundred or more units on 10 or more acres constructed prior to 1960 and also the survey showed there were 13 large publicly owned garden apartments built prior to 1960.  A copy of the survey is attached hereto as Exhibit "A."

It should be noted that six of the 13 large publicly owned garden apartments have been demolished or remodeled beyond recognition. From the relevant pool of publicly and privately owned garden apartments, there are many fine examples of site plans reflecting the evolution of the English Garden City Movement as applied to social and economic conditions in Los Angeles.  Many of the apartment developments are nevertheless, relatively too small to fully explore the highest standards of safety and quiet espoused by proponents of the Garden City Movement in the United States, which called for the development of superblocks with garden courts, curvular pedestrian walkways, grounds away from the noise and activity of major arterial streets, and space to create a truly village-like atmosphere.  Still others of these were built on existing street grids which similarly might limit the optimal Garden City principle conditions, at least without extraordinary innovative efforts from the designers. 

In some cases, the buildings were placed in monotonous rows of duplexes along streets laid out in rectangular street patterns.  In still other cases, the site planning was brilliant but there was no or little variation in the structures, or perhaps the architecture was in an indistinguishable architectural style.  In some cases the buildings were not in the Moderne or International style of Lincoln Place, but were in perhaps a Minimal Traditional style or different style.

Suffice is to say many of these may be deemed eligible for the California Register.  In any event, all these factors considered, Lincoln Place is a significant example of the property type, as its site planning and architecture in combination play an important role in our the appreciation of the evolution of Garden City principles in Los Angeles.  Further, it is a fine example of the garden property type and clearly possesses the defined characteristics required to be strongly representative of the large multi-family garden apartment property type. 

Six developments (five others in addition to Lincoln Place) included in the aforementioned survey stand out.  A brief summary of the five other projects place Lincoln Place in the historical context of the garden apartment as a unique property type under Criterion Three of the California Register and are discussed below.  The geographic location of these developments reflects the urban planning trends of the City of Los Angeles at the time each development was started.   Interestingly, there is a good mix of architectural styles, they cover a broad geographic area with Lincoln Place being the only coastal one in Los Angeles, and there is a good mix between public and private developments.  They also coincidentally reflect the evolution of the Garden City planning principles in Los Angeles from the late 1930ís through 1950. 

First among these developments is Wyvernwood in East Los Angeles, just two miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It was constructed in 1938 and 1939 when downtown Los Angeles was still considered the sole commercial hub of the city.   The property included 1,102 apartment units on 60 acres when it was initially conceived.  Nine new buildings were added in the 1960ís for at total of 1,175 units.  It was developed by the estate of D. Herbert Hostetter and designed by Witmer & Watson, Architects.  The project was insured by the FHA under an early pre-World War II mortgage insurance program.  It was designed as a self-contained community with a business district, school, play areas, recreational facilities and housing.  The existing gridiron street plan was replaced with a new street pattern featuring curved streets.  The site plan segregated auto and pedestrian traffic, clustered buildings together around courtyards, and created large areas of open space.  The architectural style is Minimal Traditional.  This property has been formally determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the California Office of Historic Preservation.

In 1942, Village Green opened in Baldwin Hills, a community in the South Central section of Los Angeles.  The location of this development reflected the then new idea of a decentralized city with regional hubs.  It was designed by Reginald D. Johnson and Robert Alexander, with as mentioned previously Clarence Stein, a founding member of RPAA serving as a consultant on the project.  As discussed previously RPAA was a planning group consisting of architects, engineers, economists and sociologists who advanced the idea of applying social scientific research to questions of physical design and were leading advocates of the Garden City Movement and its application to the American context.  The property has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Village Green, like Wyvernwood was insured by the FHA.  It was developed as a  superblock, with complete segregation of autos and pedestrians, with a series of three open greens.  A planned child care center, community kitchens, and the entire second phase of the project were never completed.  The architecture of the buildings of Baldwin Hills Village Green is clear, simple and unpretentious and in the words of its National Historic Landmark application, "a simplified modernist version of common building types that Lewis Mumford described as ërobust vernacularí."

Also in 1942, a public housing project ? Pueblo Del Rio - was constructed in Los Angeles that reflected this growing garden apartment trend.  It was built in the South East section of Los Angeles.  It was financed, constructed and managed under the auspices of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles under a federal program designed to alleviate widespread overcrowding and poor housing conditions in the nation caused by the slowdown in housing construction during the Great Depression.  Paul R. Williams, one of Californiaís leading architects, was the lead architect of Pueblo Del Rio.  It is a good example of the influence of the Garden City and Modern movements in the design of public housing for lower income families.  At the time of design of Pueblo Del Rio, Ralph Vaughn was working as a designer in Paul Williamsí firm, though it is not known whether Vaughn worked on this project. 

Another large, multi-family garden apartment complex opened in the mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles, in 1944.  Park LaBrea was conceived and developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company prior to World War II as part of a national plan for innovative urban villages.  The development featured two-story townhouses.  After the War, eighteen high-rise towers were completed on the eastern half of the site.  The differences in architectural styles of the townhouses built before the War and the towers designed immediately after mark a turning point in Los Angeles.  The townhouses are traditional in style, with many classic features.  In contrast, the thirteen story towers are firmly in the International Style of French architect Le Corbusier.   While Modernism existed before the War in Los Angeles, it was largely the work of a handful of innovative architects working for artistic clients. A major project like Park LaBrea financed by a major insurance company, although innovative at the time showed broader acceptance of this new style.

The site plan for Park LaBrea is strongly oriented to automobiles with streets running throughout the complex.  Breaking with the grid in the surrounding area, the street pattern is defined by diagonal streets and traffic circles. The two-story townhouse units are built almost to the edge of the blocks.  The interior of the blocks is devoted to green open spaces.

Another noteworthy apartment complex in Los Angeles was built after World War II in the San Fernando Valley, a community north of Los Angeles.  Chase Knolls, designated as an historic Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 2000, was developed by Joseph Chase on the site of the family dairy.   It was designed by Heth Wharton and Ralph Vaughn, the two architects who also designed Lincoln Place. It has 260 units over 14 acres.  Both Vaughnís memoir and FHA Section 608 records indicate that the designs for Lincoln Place were completed prior to those for Chase Knolls, but Chase Knolls was constructed before Lincoln Place and opened in 1949. According to Allen Mock, this was for two reasons.  First, it was the largest California FHA project and thus took longer to go through the FHA approval process.  Second, the developers of Lincoln Place were intent on making this the finest designed project and therefore allowed Wharton and Vaughn to continually refine the design and redraw the plans accordingly.

Although Chase Knolls is a much smaller development than Lincoln Place, their styles are very similar. Still, there are two major differences.  Lincoln Place has stronger elements of Ralph Vaughnís "Hollywood styling" sensibility.  For example, the large windows above the entrances of Lincoln Place are enclosed with dramatic etched and frosted glass.  The openings above the entrances at Chase Knolls have no glass.  Also, Lincoln Place takes advantage of the coastal lifestyle and the Modernistsí "indoor-outdoor" design principles by including balconies and patios overlooking its subtropical landscaping, features not included in the Chase Knolls design.  Finally, the "punching through" of the common stairwells in Lincoln Place which allow for easy navigation between the formal front courtyards and the informal back courtyards does not exist at Chase Knolls. 


In conclusion, there is no better testament to the ideals reflected in the federal housing policy during a critical time in our history, the intellectual design principles that gave rise to the Garden City Movement and the Modern Movement and the ideals of the architects who created Lincoln Place than the community of the people who live at Lincoln Place.  The community atmosphere in Lincoln Place has been the subject of a masterís thesis written by Gail Sansbury in 1993 for UCLAís Department of Urban Planning.  The thesis describes a history of long-term enthusiastic tenants, noted for their attachment to their housing community.  Government policy was to create affordable rental housing in areas that would retain good character.  More than fifty years later, Lincoln Place is the largest garden apartment complex in Venice, California, a desirable beach community of Los Angeles that serves the Santa Monica Bay community and workforce.  Government policy and financial support made this development possible.  The design philosophy behind the Garden City Movement was that site planning should create community.  Fifty years later Lincoln Place is a strong community.  The idea behind Modernist theory was that simple functional design would improve the human environment in the modern industrial society, and the architects of Lincoln Place sought to bring good design to the affordable dwelling.  Fifty years later Lincoln Place tenants continue to experience the benefits of these intentions.



Ralph A. Vaughn (1907-2000):

African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945. London:  Routledge and imprint of Taylor & Francis, Inc. 2004.

Note:  The entry on Ralph Augustine Vaughn is written by Dr. Wesley Howard Henderson and appears on pages 413-417. The entry includes a Building List of Vaughnís works.
Arvey, Verna "Negro Architect Wins First Prize" Unknown Chicago Newspaper  (1945). Chicago Historical Society, Charles Barnett Collection.

"Bermuda House: Hollywood House for D. Smith, R. A. Vaughn, Designer." California Arts and Architecture (Sept 1941):  32.

"The Negro Nevertheless a Factor in Architecture." The Negro History Bulletin (April 1940): 101-102.

"Practical Miracle Postwar Home, First Prize Winner Ralph Vaughn, Architect, Los Angeles, Calif: Multi-Use RoomsóOutdoor Living"  Practical Builder (Feb 1945): 6, 12-13.

"Prize Home Features Ample Living Space." Magazine article  (ca. 1952, no date): 36-37.  Personal collection, Ronald Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039. 

Note:  The article features Ralph A. Vaughn's home, for which Vaughn won two awards, under the rubric "Modern Home." 
"Ralph Vaughn Succumbs," obituary, L. A. Sentinel (April 19, 2001). 

Robertson, L.O. We Want Roosevelt Again Because of Facts and Figures.  Washington, DC:  Colored National Democratic League, ca. 1936, no date):  11.

Note:  This booklet cites Ralph Vaughnís appointment to the Resettlement Administration as an architectural draftsman.
Vaughn, Ralph A.  Letter from Society of American Registered Architects Vice-President and Chairman Awards Committee Marion J. Varner, F.A.R.A. (April 24, 1967). Personal collection, Ronald Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039.
Note: The letter notifies Vaughn that he has won the "President's Award" Design Citation for his design of Beth Am Temple in Los Angeles.
Vaughn, Ralph A. "The Oyster House: A Restaurant at 666 No. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles." 1965. Personal collection, Ronald Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Vaughn, Ralph A., Resumes (4), ca. 1966-1970. Personal collection, Ronald Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Vaughn, Ralph A. " The Vaughn Saga, Pts. I and II". Unpublished Memoir. 1991. Personal collection, Ronald Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Vaughn, Ralph A. U.S. Government Architect-Engineer Questionnaire, filled out by Ralph A. Vaughn Assocs., circa 1966, with record of projects completed, and partially completed with dates. Personal collection, Ronald  Fry Vaughn, 2447 Hidalgo St., Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Heth Wharton (1892-1958):

"Apartment Housing Project (Venice District)." Southwest Builder and Contractor (7 October 1949):  55.

"Bond's Girl: Antonia Hutt Brings Residential Flair to Los Angeles Offices for Fountainbridge Films," Interior Design 69/3 (March 1998): 150.

Foster, Harriet. "On the Air: A Home of Rare Charm by Heth Wharton."  West Coast Builder (April 1930): 6+.  Also broadcast on KNX Home Builders Hour (April 1930).

"George Piness Residence by Heth Wharton."  West Coast Builder (August 1930): cover.

"Granted a Certificate to Practice Architecture in California." The Architect and Engineer (January 1928): 106.

"Heth Wharton to Give Exhibition of His Work."  Southwest Builder and Contractor (1 August 1930):  37.

"Heth Wharton Prepares Plans for W. W. Marser Residence in Upland."  Southwest Builder and Contractor (12 September 1930):  52.

"Models for George Piness Residence by Heth Wharton."  Pacific Coast Architect (January 1929): 42.

Official Register of Harvard University School of Architecture 1916-17. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University, 1916. HUE 4.106.11

Official Register of Harvard University School of Architecture 1917-18. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University, 1917. HUE 4.106.11

"Residence of Mr. and Mrs. M.  Lockhart, Heith Warton [sic], Architect."  Architectural Digest (1 August 1930): 154-157.

"Store Building in Hollywood by Heth Wharton."  The Architect and Engineer (April 1931): 54.

"A Weekend Retreat for a Busy Man: Residence of Sol Lesser by Heth Wharton in Santa Monica."  California Arts and Architecture (August 1930):  22-24.

Wharton, Heth. "This Month's Radio-Planned Home." West Coast Builder (March 1930):  6+.

Lincoln Place Apartments Documentation:

"Aimco Buys 50% Interest in Lincoln Place Apartments." Housing Finance.Com (July, August, 2001)  < News/index.html>

Bialac, Jerry. Papers. Personal collection, Jerry Bialac, Beverly Hills, CA. Also: Personal Collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Place #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Lincoln Place Apartments, original brochure, 1951.

Lincoln Place Apartments, foldout brochure, 1959. 

Mr. Hamilton, Executive Secretary to Governor Dewey, telegram from Sam Bialac, July 29, 1948

Note: The telegram urges presidential candidate Dewey to support the extension of the lapsed Section 608 of Title VI of the National Housing Act, noting, if Section 608 is not renewed, the dire impact on multi-rental housing nationally and specifically on Lincoln Place Apts., and on the Dewey presidency. 

Bialac, Gerald I. "Biography", 2 pages, ca. 1961.

      Note: Jerry Bialac and his father Sam Bialac purchased the land for Lincoln Place and partnered originally with contractors Ray and Reese Myers and subsequently with Philip Yousem to develop it. Jerry Bialac was responsible for zoning, subdivision and securing financing for Lincoln Place. He remained one of the owners of Lincoln Place Apartments until 1986.

Los Angeles, City of. Original Building Permits for Lincoln Place Apartments, 9/1949-1/1950. Certificates of Occupancy, 1951. City of Los Angeles, Building and Safety Department.

Wharton, Heth and Ralph A. Vaughn. Original Building Plans for North Hollywood Manor. Volunteers of America North Hollywood Apartments, 6724 Tujunga Avenue, North Hollywood, CA 91606.


Bialac, Jerry. Interviewed by Laura Burns, August 30, September 11, September 25, 2001.  Interviewed by Laura Burns and Michael Palumbo, September 5, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Cassell, Charles, AIA.  Interviewed by Gail Sansbury, November 2001. Personal collection, Gail Sansbury, 42 Bonview St, San Francisco, CA 94110. 

Note: Charles Cassell is the son of Albert I. Cassell, for whom Ralph Vaughn worked in the 1930's at Howard University.
Gonzalez. Edmund, General Manager, North Hollywood Apartments. Interviewed by Laura Burns, October 7, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Place # 1, Venice, CA 90291.

Hovey, Tamara. Interviewed by Laura Burns, August 27, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Hovey, Esther. Interviewed by Laura Burns, August 28, September 6, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Place #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Mock, Allen. Interviewed by Laura Burns, October 17, 2001. September 14, 2002, February 1, 3, 2003, November 1, 2003.  Interviewed by Laura Burns and Michael Palumbo, November 2, 200l. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Note: Architect Allen Mock was a draftsman at Wharton & Vaughn Assocs. from 1948 to 1951 and worked on the Lincoln Place and other projects. 
Oakley, Fred. Interviewed by Laura Burns, October 18, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.
Note: Fred Oakley  was a draftsman during the summers 1947-1950 at Wharton and Vaughn Assocs. and worked on the Lincoln Place and other projects. He became Heth Wharton's son-in-law and worked for him on architectural projects for two years after returning from the Korean War.
Oakley, Mary Wharton. Interviewed by Laura Burns, November 5, 9, 11, 2000;  September 26, October 2, 11,  November 3, 2001.  Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.
Note: Mary Wharton Oakley is the daughter of Heth Wharton and worked in the office of Wharton and Vaughn in the summer of 1948.
Vaughn, Ronald Fry. Interviewed by Laura Burns, October 17 and 23, 2001;  April 7, 2002. Interviewed by Laura Burns and Michael Palumbo, November 14, 2001. Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.
Note: Architect Ronald Fry Vaughn is the son of Ralph A. Vaughn.

Letter of Gerald Bialac to Office of Historic Preservation, State of California dated September 14, 2002.

Letter of Professor Diane Favro, President, Society of Architectural Historians, to Office of Historic Preservation, State of California. (letter undated). 

Letters of Allen Mock to Office of Historic Preservation, State of California dated February 5, 2003 and October 21, 2002.

Letter of Julius Shulman to Office Historic Preservation, State of California dated September 23,2002.

Newspaper Articles:

"Additional Land Acquired By City for Playgrounds." Venice Evening Vanguard (March 1949). 

"Apartments: New Groups Ready in Lincoln Place."  Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express  (31 March 1951), sec. A:  5.

"Biggest Rental Values Luxury Living on a Budget in Beautiful Lincoln Place for onlyÖ$63.50" Advertisement. Los Angeles Examiner. (25 March 1951), sec. V-3.

"Break Ground in 60 Days On Lincoln Business Center As Final Plans Under Way."   Venice Evening Vanguard  (31 May 1951):  1+.  Photo.

"Families Like Lincoln Place."   Los Angeles Examiner  (8 April 1951):  sec V-2. 

"Glympse [sic] in Typical Kitchen of New Apartments." Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express (31 March 1951), sec. A:  5. Photo.

L. L. R. "The Venice Story: On The Way."  Venice Evening Vanguard (16 May 1951):  1+. 

"Lincoln Business Center Approved By National Production Authority: Green Light on for Seven Stores Near Lake St. Costing $404,000; Start Work in July." Venice Evening Vanguard (16 May 1951):  1+.

"Lincoln Place Apartments Offering Latest Features." Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express  (14 April 1951), sec. A:  5.

"Lincoln Place Units Appeal."   Los Angeles Examiner  (15 April 1951):  sec V-2. 

"Lincoln Place Units Popular."   Los Angeles Examiner  (25 March 1951):  sec V-4. 

"Modern Appointments at Lincoln Place Apartments."  Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express (7 April 1951), sec. A:  5.

 "New Apt. Units Have Built-In TV Hookups."  Santa Monica Outlook  (6 April, 1951), sec. California Living.

"Now Available! Lincoln Place Apartments. Most Outstanding Apartment Values in Town! Start at - $63.50." Advertisement. Santa Monica Outlook (30 March 1951), sec. California Living and Los Angeles Evening Herald Examiner (31 March 1951), sec. A:  5.

"Permit Issued For $5,500,000 Venice Housing Development." Santa Monica Evening Outlook (8 October 1949), sec California Living:  5.

"Permits Issued For Huge Housing Plan."  Santa Monica Evening Outlook. (10 October 1949): 9.

 "Shaded Balconies, Spacious Lawns."   Santa Monica Evening Outlook (20 April 1951), sec. California Living. Photo.

"Suggest Loop Bus Route to Serve Lincoln Blvd., Lake St., New Apartments." Venice Evening Vanguard (9 May 1951):  1+.

"Venice Building Takes Big Spurt: September Permits Total 46,912,031." Santa Monica Evening Outlook (5 October 1949): 1

FHA Documents:

Federal Housing Administration, Division of Research and Statistics, Operating Statistics Section, Title VI - Section 608, Veteransí Emergency Rental Housing Projects, Cumulative as of March 31, 1954.  Miscellaneous Files, Box 1, Record Group 54, Records of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, Subcommittee to the Investigation of the Federal Housing Administration, National Archives.

Note: This document provides a cumulative list of all Section 608 projects in California. Copy available: Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1 Venice, CA 90291.
Lincoln Place FHA Applications for Mortgage Insurance Under Section 608 of the National Housing Act, IFHA Form No 2013W (rev. 6-47. Date:  March 8, 1949 ,  No. 122-4214.   Stamped Received, March 12, 1948. Approved May 2-5, 1951. National Archives RG 46 Records of the U.S. Senate, Committee on Banking & Currency, CASE FILESóBOX 24, Lincoln Place).
Note: These are photostats of the Lincoln Place applications for  mortgage insurance and give detailed descriptions of materials, costs, replacement values and operating expenses. Copies of 122-42128 (project analysis), Applications for Mortgage Insurance:122-42129, 122-122-42130, 122-42131 also available: Personal collection, Laura Burns, 1000 Doreen Pl. #1, Venice, CA 90291.

Historical Context  and Architectural Significance:

Aberdeen Gardens: Building a Community. [Online] Available: <>

Bond, J. Max.  "Still Here: Three Architects of Afro-America: Julian Francis, Abele, Hilyard Robinson and Paul R. Williams."  Harvard Design Magazine (1997 Summer):  48+.

Cassell, Albert. I. Papers. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C."

"Experience Record", 12 pages. Box 175-1, Folder 1.

 Two obituaries, 2 pages. Box 175-2.

The City, a documentary film on the Greenbelt Communities prepared by  filmmaker Pare Lorentz for the 1939 NY World's Fair. U. S. Resettlement Administration, 1939. Narrated by Lewis Mumford.

Ethridge, Harrison Mosley.  The Black Architects of Washington, D.C. 1900-Present.  Doctor of Arts Dissertation, The Catholic University of America.  Washington, D.C., 1979.

Depaul, Amy, "Historians' Projects to Honor Architect [Hilyard Robinson]." Washington Post  (Oct. 16, 1986).

Giedon, Sigfried. Space, Time and Architecture: the Growth of a New Tradition. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press [5th ed., rev and enl.], 1967.

Graz, George Herbert.  Housing and Citizenship: a Study of Low-Cost Housing. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation , 1946.

Hudson, Karen E. Paul R. Williams, Architect : a Legacy of Style.  New York: Rizzoli, 1993.

Luckman, Charles. Twice in a Lifetime: from Soap to Skyscrapers. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988. 

McCoy, Esther.  Five California Architects.  Los Angeles:  Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1987.

Mumford, Lewis. "Skyline." New Yorker Magazine (30 April, 1938). 

Note:  Mumford reviews  design of Langston Terrace Dwellings.
"Negro Architects of Today in Action." The Negro History Bulletin  (April, 1940):  103+.

Ouroussoff, Nicolai. "Architecture; Back to the Housing Lab; The Restoration of L.A.'s Pueblo del Rio, Built to Acclaim in 1942, Will Say Much about Our Society and Its Ideals."  The Los Angeles Times (4 November 2001), sec. F:  6.

Perry, Clarence Arthur.  Housing for the Machine Age. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1939.

Peterson, Dan and Geraldine. "Architectural/Historical Evaluation of Lincoln Place." Nov. 1992.

Robinson, Hilyard R., Papers. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard, University, Washington D.C.

Biographical Sketches, Robinsonís resumes from different periods, 8 pages, unprocessed box on Howard City and Langston Terrace, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard, University, Washington D.C.
 Langston Project 40th Anniversary Program. September 24, 1977. Unprocessed box on Howard City and Langston Terrace. Robinsonís speech which includes remarks on the architectural and social significance of Langston Terrace.
Sansbury, Gail Gregory. Lincoln Place: A Case Study of a Multi-Family Rental Complex. Master's Thesis, UCLA, Los Angeles:  1993.

Sansbury, Gail Gregory. "Section 608:Title VI, National Housing Act," The Encyclopedia of Housing, ed. Willem van Vliet. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1998.

Scott, Pamela. A Directory of District of Columbia Architects 1822-1960. Second Edition, Washington, D.C. June 2001. 1936 telephone directory entry lists Ralph Vaughn as an  architect working at Robinson, Williams and Porter.

Schafer, Robert.  The Suburbanization of Multifamily Housing.  Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1974.

Stein, Clarence S.  Towards New  Towns in America. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1957.

Truman, Harry.  Special Message to the Congress on Housing - February 23, 1948. Papers of Harry Truman, 1948, [Online] The American Presidency Project, University of California at Santa Barbara. Available: <>

 "Veterans: Haunted Houses." Newsweek  (26 August, 1946):  18.

Vliet, Willem van (Editor).  The Encyclopedia of Housing.  Thousand Oaks, California:  Sage Publications, 1998.

Welfeld, Irving.  Where We Live:  A Social History of American Housing.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Wong, Dr. Dorothy Fue.  National Landmark Application of Baldwin Hills Village. 2001.

United States Government Documents:

Ames, Dr. David and Linda McClelland.  "Historic Residential Suburbs: Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of  Historic Places."  National Register Bulletin. 2002.

"The Housing Outlook for 1948."  The American Forum of the Air IX.51 (December 30, 1949):  3-11.  [FHA Library]

Press Release from the National Housing Agency, July 7, 1946.  [FHALibrary]

"Statement of Frank R. Creedon, Housing Expediter, before the House Banking and Currency Committee." March 17, 1947.  [FHA Library]

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Title 24 - Housing and Housing Credit, Chapter II - and Obligations of Mortgagee Under Insurance Contract. 1949.

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  Address by Raymond M. Foley, Commissioner, Federal Housing Administration, The Outlook for Home Mortgage Financing.  April 30, 1946.  [FHA Library]

U.S. Federal Housing Administration. Administrative Rules and Regulations for Rental Housing Insurance under Section 608 of the National Housing Act (As Amended May 22, 1946).  Revised December 19, 1947.

U.S. Federal Housing Administration. Annual Report. 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1954.

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration. Community Campaign:  How Your City Can Get the Greatest Benefit from the National Housing Act. 1934.

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  Community Planning in Relation to the Modernization Phase of the National Housing Act. 1934.

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  The FHA Story in Summary:  1934-1959. 1959.  [UCLA Library].

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  Housing for War Workers:  How to Develop Rental Housing Projects Financed with Mortgages to Be Insured under Title VI, Section 608, of the National Housing Act.  1943. [FHA Library]

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  How to Test Financial Soundness of Rental Housing Properties. 1951.

U.S.  Federal Housing Administration.  Low-Rental Housing for Private Investment.  1940.

U.S. Federal Housing Administration,Technical Division.  Technical Report No. 2 -- Modern Design.  Washington, DC: 1935.  [FHA Library]

U.S. Federal Works Administration.  Address by Lawrence Westbrook.  Housing for Medium-Income Families.   January 25, 1941. [FHA Library]

Veterans Emergency Housing Program.  Statement by Wilson H. Wyatt,  National Housing Expediter, Administrator, National Housing Agency, before the Special Committee on National Housing of the American Legion.  November 7, 1946. [FHA Library]

location & map
b & w images
color images
complete text of  State application
to write a letter of support