The City of San Marino is not noted for bohemian lifestyles, but here on the fringe in oak strewn Kewen Canyon, if not bohemianism, at least haute-bohemianism, with a nod to modernism flourished postwar through the1960’s. After the Roulac’s conversion of an old pump house into a modern residence with architect Whit Smith, Austin Ayers, an engineer by profession, commenced his own interpretation of modernism just down the street for his family. After initial sketches drawn by William L. Rudolph AIA, Ayers created a combination art studio/living quarters. The avant-garde living arrangement was cleverly concealed behind an innocuous ranch-style facade, taunting and defying conservative McCarthy-era perceptions that associated Modernism with Communism. The space incorporates a two story all purpose living area with a grand fireplace. The loft-style master bedroom and bath floats above, and may be opened to the interior via shoji inspired screens. The kitchen is in the center, and beyond is a family/study area connecting to two additional bedrooms and a second bath. As the family grew arts activities and hobbies were moved out to a new studio attached to the garage. Later an additional studio/guest quarters utilizing recycled railroad ties and steel frame windows was constructed on the hillside above the garage. The buildings are carefully arrayed across the nearly half-acre natural canyon site which additionally incorporates meandering hillside trails, gardens, and a private patio. Having been maintained in unaltered condition since new, this package offers a rare and desirable natural retreat from urbanism/suburbanism, still reflecting its haute-bohemian roots hidden between two of Southern California’s finest residential estate neighborhoods. The property is conveniently close to South Lake Avenue shopping and services. Moderate restoration required.


Property ID
Austin Ayers Design
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Crosby Doe
  • Crosby Doe
  • 310.275.2222 x101 310.428.6755
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  • Address 1080 Kewen Drive
  • City San Marino
  • State/county CA
  • Zip/Postal Code 91108

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Crosby Doe
  • Crosby Doe