Architect Daniel Liebermann, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned pupils, made a lasting impact on Northern California’s architecture scene—and you can now own one of the pieces responsible for this fame for $2,795,000.
Even before learning the backstory of this house that sits at the foot of Mount Tamalpais in Mill Valley, California, we knew that 861 Lovell Avenue is an exceptional piece of architecture—but the behind-the-scenes story is what really makes it that much more covetable. We were lucky enough to be given the true story of the house’s evolution from Jay Little, an artist who actually lived in the house with his family of seven, and ended up becoming a close friend and student of Liebermann's.
The tale begins when Liebermann built this house for his parents in 1962, and simultaneously built another one for himself right next door. He re-milled a railroad bridge from Ukiah, California, and used the wood for both of the houses, while also salvaging windows from World War II bomber planes. However, a year after he completed the homes, his parents moved back to Switzerland, while he remained living in his house next door. After his parents rented out the house for a while, they ended up selling it to Jay's parents in 1967, who moved in with their 5 children, Jay included—who was seven years old at the time.
Even after Liebermann moved to the East Bay, his connection with the house never faded. "When he was teaching in Berkeley, he would bring his students by and tell his stories. For years, he used it like a case study, and my whole family was part of his lab," says Jay. Because these two homes were his first residential buildings—which he completed when he was just 28 years old—he held a special connection with them that lasted until he passed away in October 2015.
Jay's father became the caretaker of the residence and ended up building an addition under the house for his three daughters. Jay and his brother lived in the pool room, which shares the same roof with the house but is accessed about 20 yards from the main house. When his father built this addition or made any fixes, he used as many of the original materials as possible—mostly old-growth redwood—and made sure that it didn’t detract from the main house. Jay points out that Liebermann seemed to be happy with this situation that his father set up. He ended up inviting Jay to work and learn alongside him at a remodel he was doing in Piedmont.
Today, everything in the house is either completely original, or was carefully updated by this family who owned and cared for it for 50 years. You’ll find the full listing through Eric McFarland here.
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