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IRVING JOHN GILL (1870-1936)

Gill apprenticed to Ellis G. Hall in Syracuse around 1889. He moved to Chicago in 1890, worked for Joseph Lyman Silsbee, and, in 1891, with Adler and Sullivan. Gill moved to San Diego in 1893 and partnered with another former Chicago apprentice, William S. Hebbard for 11 years, bonding with San Diego's progressive philanthropic elite, including Ellen Browning Scripps. Gill parted ways with Hebbard in 1907 and formed a brief but significant partnership with Frank Mead. The three residences created during their seven-month partnership began to exhibit the ornament-free, geometric elements for which Gill is best known.

1907 also brought his first solo commission and his launch to fame with the Laughlin House. In 1913, Gill was commissioned by Ellen Browning Scripps to design the La Jolla Woman's Club (715 Silverado), using the "tilt-slab" construction method, the first use of this kind in the state. Gill designed more than 350 projects. In 2017, Gill became the first architect to receive the AIA California Council's Maybeck Award posthumously. The Irving Gill foundation was started in 2015. Bio adapted from Wikipedia. Research by Kevin H. Souza.


1884 - The Major Myles Moylan House, 2214-2224 Second Avenue, San Diego CA. Designed with Joseph Falkenham. On the National Register of Historic Places.


1905 - The George W.and Anna G. Marston House, 3525 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. Commissioned in 1904. Gill and William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill designed and built the house. Converted into a museum in 1987 after the Marston family gave the house to the City of San Diego. As of 2023, maintained by Save Our Heritage Organization.


1905 - The Alice Lee House, 3574 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. Designed by Hazel Waterman working for Gill. Alice Lee lived here with Katherine Teats, recognized by the City of San Diego as one of the first documented domestic partnerships in San Diego, until Lee died in 1943. 3574 7th Avenue; 3560 7th Avenue; and 3578 7th Avenue were initially configured around a shared courtyard connected by a U-shaped pergola, planned by landscape architect Kate Sessions. The project was one of Gill's first experiments in multiple-residential designs, which he would become known for later in his career. Lee and Teats lived in the main house and used the other two for rentals. San Diego Historic Site #1021.


1905 - The Katherine Teats House, 3560 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. Altered in 1912 by Gill and again by Gill's nephew, Louis Gill, in 1922. Changes to the house enclosed the porch to the south and extended the second story. Henry and Ellen Babcock purchased the home in 1923. 3574 7th Avenue; 3560 7th Avenue; and 3578 7th Avenue were initially configured around a shared courtyard connected by a U-shaped pergola, planned by landscape architect Kate Sessions. The project was one of Gill's first experiments in multiple-residential designs, which he would become known for later in his career. Lee and Teats lived in the main house and used the other two for rentals. San Diego Historic Site #98.


1905 - The Alice Lee Cottage, 3578 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. In 1911, Alice Lee hired Gill to enlarge the cottage, extending the building to the north and adding a basement garage down the slope. Gill added a dining room on the first floor and, upstairs, a bedroom and bath with a sleeping porch on the southeast corner. Architect and engineer Frank P. Allen Jr., and his family resided here from 1911 to 1915. Photo by Kansas Sebastian. San Diego Historic Site #99. 3574 7th Avenue; 3560 7th Avenue; and 3578 7th Avenue were initially configured around a shared courtyard connected by a U-shaped pergola, planned by landscape architect Kate Sessions. The project was one of Gill's first experiments in multiple-residential designs, which he would become known for later in his career. Lee and Teats lived in the main house and used the other two for rentals.


1906 - The Frederick and Lilla Burnham House, 3563 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. Designed by Hebbard & Gill for the sister and brother-in-law of George Marston. In 1948, the Burnham's two daughters converted the house into two units and lived there on separate floors. A new wall inserted beneath the staircase divided the house into separate upstairs and downstairs units, with the staircase providing private and direct access to the second-level apartment. This modification left the grand staircase intact. The building has recently been converted from a residence into offices. City of San Diego Historical Registry #41 and National Register of Historic Places #86002665. Photos by Kansas Sebastian. Tours available.


1906 - The Frederick and Mary Cossitt House, 3526 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. The Cossitts were frequent clients of Gill with numerous commissions, including rental properties. City of San Diego Historic Registry #97.


1908 - The Russel C. Allen Residence, 4094 Old Orchard Lane, Bonita CA. Commissioned in 1907. Austrian architect Adolf Loos is often credited with designing the first intentionally anti-ornament house in 1911, but this one is 3 years earlier.


1908 - The Homer Laughlin Jr. Residence, 666 West 28th Street, Los Angeles CA. The Los Angeles Herald in 1908 declared that Laughlin's residence was model of modern construction, featuring things well before their time, like a central vacuum system with an outlet in each room pulling dust to the furnace; a garbage disposal in the kitchen dropping garbage to an incinerator in the basement; an automatic gas heater and a water filtration system. The ice box in the kitchen had access from the outside, precluding the need for ice delivery inside the house, and milk was delivered through an outside slot. Laughlin's garage had an automatic car-washing machine and a service station-like maintenance pit. Mail was delivered through a mailbox flush with the front door. Laughlin's role as Gill's first solo client brought him to fame. Destroyed.


1909 - The Arthur and Elsa Marston House, 3575 7th Avenue, San Diego CA. Like his father, George Marston, Arthur Marston hired Irving Gill to design his home. Typical Gill features such as a boxy shape, casement windows, and recessed arched entry can be seen. Although Gill produced several presentation renderings for the home, with most showing a stucco finish, the Marstons kept to the family's fondness for red brick. In 1929 and 1930, Irving Gill's nephew, Louis Gill, his partner from 1914 to 1919, designed a north wing addition and a separate garage with an apartment above. Photos by Kansas Sebastian.


1910 - The Fred B. Lewis-Bella Vista Terrace Court, Mountain Trail & Alegria Avenue, Sierra Madre, Los Angeles CA. On a 1910 trip to California, Lewis spent a vacation at the Cypress Court in Sierra Madre (owned by Frank Fraiburg, also a jeweler from Cleveland), located just north of where Lewis would decide to build his own house court for tourists such as himself. Gill built eight cottages for Lewis. Lewis sold Bella Vista Terrace in 1914 and moved to Long Beach, CA. The property, which had Sierra Madre Historic Landmark status, had that removed at the request of its 1997 owner, Healing Light Church. Additional units have been added over the years.


1911 - The Mrs. Paul Miltimore House, 1301 South Chelten Way, South Pasadena CA. Changes after construction include the removal of the sleeping balcony above the west terrace and the roofing over the entire west terrace; the "green room" in the projection on the west has been closed in. A solar heating system on the roof has been removed. The kitchen was remodeled in 1958 when the wall between the kitchen and pantry was removed, and steel windows above the sink were replaced. South Pasadena's Register of Cultural Heritage Landmarks #11 and National Registry of Historic Places #72000235. Sold in 1940 to John Shaw. Sold in 1952 to Benjamin and Virginia Holt. Sold in 2018 to Joseph M. and Therese A. Molina. Second photo by Michael Locke.


1912 - The Workers Single-Family Housing, around Gramercy Avenue, Torrance CA. Around 1912, Gill secured the job as Chief Architect for the city of Torrance CA, then under development by Jared Sidney Torrance's Dominguez Land Co. In addition to the commercial buildings, Gill planned to design 100 model homes for factory workers who wanted to live near their jobs. If successful, they would have been easy to duplicate throughout the district. Gill told the Los Angeles Herald in 1912 that "the whole secret" was "privacy and cleanliness." One wall of each was built purposely without windows, and it faced the windowed side of the neighboring house, giving privacy to each family.

The houses were designed with few adornments. Their concrete floors sometimes were curved where they met the walls, eliminating crevices to promote easier cleaning. There were no baseboards, moldings, exposed beams or other design frills inside, and basic stucco walls outside. But they were not popular with their intended audience, who reacted with disdain for their plainness and lack of decoration, preferring the more romantic California bungalow. About ten of the model homes were built, located in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Gramercy Avenue. Sadly, only one appears to have survived, located at 1819 Gramercy Avenue. Text and photos by Michael Locke.


1916 - The Walter L. Dodge House, 950 North Kings Road, West Hollywood CA. Published in House Beautiful, February 1921. Walter Dodge used the house as his retirement home until 1924, when he sold it to T. Morrison McKenna. In 1939, the Los Angeles Board of Education acquired the property in a contested condemnation action, and the house was never again put to full use. Beginning in 1963, efforts began to redevelop the property. Architectural historian Esther McCoy made the film Dodge House 1916, available on YouTube. Richard Neutra said the Dodge House was required study for architecture students worldwide and declared n 1969 that demolition would "not be a passing event ... it would become an epic, an international scandal. In November 1969, a lawsuit by the Citizens' Committee seeking to stop the sale of the Dodge House was rejected, and the house was sold to Riviera Management Company which destroyed it on February 9, 1970. Apartments were built on the site.


1917 - The Morgan House, 626 North Arden Boulevard, Los Angeles CA. Restored by architects Roy McMakin and Andie Zelnin. Sold in 2001 to Frederic and Doanne R. Hunter. Sold in 2006 to Paul R. Hunter. Photos by Michael Locke.


1918 - The Samuel Raymond House, 2749 East Ocean Boulevard, Bluff Park, Long Beach CA. 3660 sf. His daughter, Florence R. Bois, lived there until she died in 1966. Though the exterior looks much the same as a century ago, its interior has been heavily remodeled. Surviving original features include archways, some concrete floors, casement windows, and a tiled fireplace.


1919 - The Horatio West Court, 140 Hollister Avenue, Santa Monica CA. The four buildings are grouped on a 60-foot lot. Changed to El Consuelo Apartments in 1927, and it is believed that the four townhouse units were split into two separate apartments, one up and one down. In 1968, the building was documented by the Historic American Building Survey's Los Angeles Project. The building was operated as income-producing apartments until the early 1970s when a partnership of six people, including three architects, bought and restored the property for their use, living in the four townhouse units and renting out the two apartments in the back. The project was converted to condominiums in 1979. Santa Monica Historic Landmark #10, and National Registry of Historic Places. Richard Neutra extensively photographed the Horatio West Court and Gill's Dodge House and published in his book Amerika: Neues Bauen in der Welt (1930). Black and white photo by Marvin Rand; color photos by Michael Locke.


1920 - The Kate Crane-Gartz Duplex, aka Little Cloister, 948 North Oakland Avenue, Pasadena CA. Gartz, a celebrated reformer and pacifist, was heir of her father's fortune derived from his plumbing business. When her two sons wrote to her of the "useless slaughter" they witnessed while serving in World War I, she appealed to President Harding on behalf of conscientious objectors and provided funding to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Although the house is currently well hidden from view behind landscaping, evidence of Gill's design can be seen. Photo by Michael Locke.


1921 - The Chauncey and Marie Rankin Clarke House, 10211 Pioneer Boulevard, Santa Fe Springs CA. 60 acres. Commissioned in 1919. The Clarkes made their fortunes in distilleries and gold mining. They lived in the home for two years before the discovery of oil on their land, which brought industry to the area and led them to move. When Marie Clarke died in 1948, the home was left to her secretary's nephew, James Siemon, who lived there until 1986. An extensive set of early photographs are on the National Park Service website. On the National Registry of Historic Places.


Sources include: The Irving John Gill papers at UC Santa Barbara; The Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress).