The Neutra House was designed in 1935 and completed in 1939 by internationally renowned architect Richard Neutra. Its clean lines exemplify mid-century modernism and the internationally recognized California modern style. Neutra collaborated with architect Otto Winkler on a dozen residential projects/homes in the S.F. Bay Area in the 1930’s. Only two of these projects were south of Atherton, with both in Los Altos.
The Los Altos Community Foundation, the City of Los Altos and a group of citizens interested in preserving architectural history joined together to save this Los Altos house. It was moved to city land, and it is now available for rental as a conference and events center and is home to educational programs on modern architecture and on the history of the original clients.
This house is one of the “Three Small Houses in an Orchard” as Neutra referred to his project. Jacqueline Johnson, a graduate student at Stanford in English, and an avocational poet Clayton Stafford purchased a half-acre lot at 180/182/184 Marvin Avenue that contained just a prune orchard at the time. Stafford’s and Johnson’s one bedroom houses were essentially identical with approximately 750 square feet each. A third smaller house was also constructed, perhaps for a third writer, but Johnson owned it.
The house that was moved and is now the “Neutra House” was Jacqueline Johnson’s home for a little over a year. She sold her two houses on her half of the lot in 1941 after marrying the surrealist painter Gordon Onslow Ford. After marrying in May they moved to Mexico to wait out the war. They returned to San Francisco in 1947 and lived out their lives in the Bay Area.
Clayton Stafford married, served in the war and returned to live here for many years. He had Richard Neutra design an extension of the house with a second bedroom and contracted with Gary Ekbo to landscape the lot in the late forties.