For those who could use a feel-good story right about now, the Daily News delivers with an uplifting feature on the restoration of Rudolph Schindler’s Van Dekker House. Commissioned in 1939 by Albert Van Dekker, a stage and screen actor whose best known roles include the titular character in 1940’s Dr. Cyclops and evil villain Dr. Soberin in Kiss Me Deadly, the Woodland Hills residence was allowed to slide into wrack and ruin by its subsequent owner, screenwriter AI “Buzz” Bezzerides. The seven-bedroom, four-bath house was purchased in 2009 by preservationist Josh Gorrell, who began the arduous restoration process, but tapped out after about a year due to a move to Northern California.
Stepping up to finish the job was construction executive Frank Gamwell, who acquired the Van Dekker in late 2013 for $700,000, then sank another $350,000 into making it shine. “It was coming apart,” Gamwell told the DN. “To stop it coming apart, you have to take your bank, open your wallet and throw it all out until you don’t have any more money. But it’s been a joy. It’s a labor of love. But you know what it is? I love the history of the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. This kind of place would have been lost.” Awwww, whatta mensch!
All Van Dekker House coverage [Curbed archives]