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Julius Ralph Davidson or JR Davidson (1889-1977) was a Mid-century modern American architect known for advancing modern architecture in Los Angeles and participating in Arts & Architecture magazine's Case Study House Program.

Davidson was part of a group of European expatriate architects which included Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, Kem Weber, and Paul László who furthered modern architecture in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s.[1] Architectural historians and critics have described Davidson as being conversant in and talented at bridging both Art Deco, International, and Modernist styles. His modern interiors have been noted for their warmth, fluidity, and well-planned storage space.[2][3] Writer Thomas Mann, who had an aversion to glass-box styles, selected Davidson as the architect of his Pacific Palisades home for his moderate modernism.[4]

Life and work[]

Julius Ralph Davidson was born in Berlin, Germany in 1889.[5][6] After spending several years in London working for the office of Frank Stewart Murray and in Paris, JR Davidson married Greta Wollstein in 1914. He served in World War I for two-and-a-half years beginning in 1915. After the war, he returned to Berlin and later moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where he worked for architect Robert D. Faquhar, Cecil B. DeMille, and developers Hite-Bilike before moving to Chicago in 1933, where he remodeled hotel interiors.[7] He returned to Los Angeles in 1936 and would remain in Southern California for the rest of his life. Most of his commissions after 1936 were residential. In 1938, he began teaching at Art Center College of Design. He retired in 1972 and died in Ojai, California in 1977. JR Davidson donated his papers to the Architecture and Design Collection at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1972 and 1975.[8] His realized work was extensively photographed by Julius Shulman.

Case Study House Program[]

Case Study House No. 1

In the announcement for the Case Study House Program, Arts & Architecture magazine recognized Davidson's work as the first modern designs for stores, restaurants, offices, and single and multiple residential units in Los Angeles and Chicago.[9] Davidson designed Case Study Houses #1, #2, #11, and #15. House #11 in West Los Angeles was the first to be built and the first to be demolished. House #1 is located at 10152 Toluca Lake Avenue in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Toluca Lake.[10][11] The only other house besides the Toluca Lake house that is still extant is Case Study House #15 located in La Canada Flintridge, California.[12][13]

List of Selected Projects[]

Rabinowitz house || 1957 || 2262 N. Stradella || Bel-Air
Project Date Address Location
Redesign of Cocoanut Grove nightclub interiors. Ambassador Hotel 1926 3400 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles Demolished
Facades and interiors for Wilshire Boulevard shops (includes Hi-Hat Restaurant, later Perino's #1) 1929 3927 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles Demolished.
Sardi's remodel 1931 6313 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles Demolished.
Maitland house remodel 1937 230 Strada Corta Bel-Air
Stohart-Phillips house 1938 2501 La Mesa Drive Santa Monica
Gretna Green Apartments 1940 12209 Dunoon Lane Brentwood Aka Drucker Apts.
Sabsay house 1940 2351 Silver Ridge Road Silver Lake
Thomas Mann House 1941 1550 San Remo Drive Pacific Palisades Remodeled.
Case Study House #11 (demolished) 1946 540 South Barrington Avenue West Los Angeles
Kingsley house 1947 1620 N. Amalfi Pacific Palisades
JR Davidson house and office 1947 548 So. Barrington Ave. West Los Angeles Demolished
Case Study House #1 1947 10152 Toluca Lake Ave No Hollywood Aka McFadden House
Case Study House #15 1947-1948 4755 Lasheart Drive La Cañada Flintridge Remodeled.
Osherenko house 1948–1949, 1954 Beverly Hills
Jokl house (demolished 1999) 1958 563 N. Bundy West Los Angeles


  1. Gebhard, David; Winter, Robert (1985). Architecture in Los Angeles: A Compleat Guide. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith. p. 22. ISBN 087905087X. 
  2. McCoy, Esther (May 22, 1960). "Tranquil house: modern, airy". 
  3. McCoy, Esther (1984). The Second Generation. Gibbs M. Smith. pp. 2–35. ISBN 0879051191. 
  4. Bahr, Ehrhard (2007). Weimar on the Pacific. University of California. pp. 170–171. 
  5. "Davidson, Julius". University of Washington. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  6. Kaplan, Wendy (2011). California Design, 1930-1965 Living In a Modern Way. MIT Press. p. 325. ISBN 9780262299862. 
  7. McCoy, Esther (1984). The Second Generation. Gibbs M. Smith. pp. 2–35. ISBN 0879051191. 
  8. "Finding Aid for the Julius Ralph Davidson papers, 1904-1977". Retrieved 17 August 2016. 
  9. Entenza, John (January 1945). "Announcement: The Case Study House Program". p. 40. 
  10. "Case Study House #1". Los Angeles Conservancy. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  11. "Case Study House #1". May 1948. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  12. "Case Study House #15". pp. 34–37. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  13. "Case Study House #15". UCLA Humanities. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 

Further reading[]

McCoy, Esther. The Second Generation. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 1984.

Pfaff, Lillian. “J.R. Davidson: A European Contribution to California Modernism”. Basel: Birkhauser Verlag, 2019.

External links[]

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