August 25th, 2020
The early 1900s were a wonderful time for Spanish Revival and Old Spanish homes and there were no homes more beautiful than Kirtland Cutter Homes in Palos Verdes. Frank Vanderlip, the “father of Palos Verdes” envisioned the Palos Verdes Peninsula as the “American Riviera” and after buying the 16,000 acress, site unseen, built the first of his Palos Verdes homes on the south side of the Peninsula in 1916 and other properties were added to the estate in the 1920s. He envisioned regulated architectural controls which the Palos Verdes Homes Association, known as the “Art Jury” protects even to this day.
Frederick Law Olmsted
The original intent of the day in these early times would be for the Art Jury to regulate three districts and with each district’s architecture determined in part by the topography of the land; “Ocean Slopes”, “Mesas Crowning the Hills” and the “Northern Slopes”. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr (Palos Verdes was one of Olmsted Brothers largest and most complex projects) wisely stipulated that while the goal was unity of architectural style, there was no desire to stifle the creativity of individual designers. Incidentally, if you’d like to read more about the background of the “founder” of Palos Verdes, Frank Vanderlip, you can read one of Vicki Mack’s books here
Enter Kirtland Cutter who had put forth very ambitious designs for the Lunada Bay Plaza which was a “…romantic evocation of an Italian town …”. Alas it was never built as he envisioned because of the Great Depression. We can tell from writings of the day that Kirtland Cutter’s design was highly regarded. It was featured in articles written by Frederick Olmsted. However Cutter had to wait for Malaga Cove to be built. You can read much more about Kirtland Cutter in a book written by Henry C Matthews, “Kirtland Cutter-Architect in The Land of Promise”. While Cutter must have been frustrated, he became very busy with private commissions the first of which here in Palos Verdes was the home for Mr and Mrs Adrian E Cameron. The Olmsted brothers designed the landscaping. Incidentally over looking Malaga Cove is the La Venta Inn, designed by one of the leading Spanish Revival architects of the day Walter and Pierpont Davis. Our firm still manages Davis property and I was hired by the Davis family, privileged to market and sell Walter Davis’ son’s home at 6252 Via Canada
So what was so great about Kirtland Cutter designs? Why was he so sought out and why do the homes he designed today sell for large premiums over and above the prevailing home prices for homes surrounding his creations. It was the “…simple effect of white washed plaster and low-pitched roofs typical of farmhouses in Tuscany or Andalusia as well as the Spanish missions in the American Southwest…” [Kirtland Cutter: Architect in the Land of Promise] Houses of this design could blend into the irregular topography of the Palos Verdes hills and in my opinion, it’s no wonder why the creativity of the Olmsted brothers in landscape design and Kirtland Cutter in architectural design married so well.
What’s my favorite Kirtland Cutter home? I sold one in the Valmonte area a few years ago and then resold it some years later. But I think my favorite is the home at 2800 Via Campesina, Palos Verdes Estates CA. Of all the Kirtland Cutter homes in Palos Verdes [link to article written by Stephanie Cartozian] , this is the one that would be most coveted by buyers of Kirtland Cutter homes for sale. This was a home designed for Mr and Mrs Hugo W Jones. It was an 11 room house. When you understand the vision that Kirtland Cutter had as a foundation of his design of blending into the topography, none of the Kirtland Cutter homes in Palos Verdes better epitomize the realization of that goal. Palos Verdes natural parkland borders this home providing a degree of privacy and integration into the natural space that no other home can hold a candle to. Add to this the beautiful views the home has of the Palos Verdes Golf Club and coastline views and you too will reach the same conclusion I have.
Interesting story about this home – I was 16 or 17 years old working the summer painting houses and saving money for college and was passing flyers door to door through the Los Verdes neighborhood where I lived with my folks. I came across Dr Dia who had just purchased this home. I think he felt sorry for me, it was a scorching day, I was working hard and he asked me if I’d like to work for him scraping some ivy off a house he bought in Malaga Cove.
I agreed of course, after all, how hard can it be to scrape some ivy off a home. Here’s a picture of the home not too long after competed construction. Now imagine, flash forward to 1973 or 1974 and this entire home covered, every square inch in that clingy ivy. Well, my partner and I, Peter Papps, did the job. We cleaned that house of every leaf and vine; that “white washed plaster” beautifully designed by Kirtland Cutter once again popped out to the light of day. I’d occasionally over the years see Dr Dia and we would tease each other about that summer. A great guy that gave me my first job as a teenager. I have to say, the charm and elegance of Old Spanish homes reaches out to me. I love these homes and relish every opportunity to market one for a seller and/or represent a buyer in their pursuit of owning any of the Old Spanish homes in Palos Verdes. I’d love to read your comments!
Here are some other examples of Kirtland Cutter homes in Palos Verdes
|Paull Residence 3621 Paseo del Campo||
Stein Residence, 2733 Via Campesina
Gard Residence, 2780 Via Campesina
Sisson Residence, 1705 Via Montemar
|Cameron Residence, 881 Via Del Monte||
Wilkins Residence, 637 Via Horquilla
|Gilmore Residence, 3825 Paseo del Campo||
Sutherland Residence, 633 Via Horquilla
|Snelgrove Residence, 2709 Via Anita||
Buchanan Residence, 700 Via Somonte
|Schellenberg Residence, 3604 Via Palomino [this is the home I sold twice]
Munroe Residence, 2705 Via Anita
For other historical fascinating information, your best resource is the Palos Verdes Library District.
the link above will update automatically each time you visit. And if you’d like an appointment to view any of these homes call, text or email or simply use my online appointment scheduler
I hope you enjoyed this review of Kirtland Cutter homes in Palos Verdes.