There’s no place like Crestwood Hills.
It truly is a dream come true. It was conceived, planned, developed and built by residents. There was a tremendous housing shortage after World War II, and Los Angeles was swamped with returning servicemen. In 1946, four friends, all musicians and recently discharged from the Army, had an idea. Together, they would buy an acre of land, build homes at the four corners and have a communal pool and playground in the center. Together they could purchase what they could not afford individually. It was a wonderful concept. Many had similar dreams, but only one community made it work—Crestwood Hills.
Soon, the original four turned into a dozen, and the dozen grew to be more than 500. A nonprofit corporation called Mutual Housing Association was formed. All of the members owned shares in the corporation and would eventually obtain a housing site. After looking at several properties, Mutual Housing purchased land in Kenter Canyon. The next step was hiring an architectural team to develop modern housing—no colonials or Tudors here. The housing was also to be sensitive to the hillside terrain.
Three men were selected (over such figures as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra and John Lautner) to design the homes—A. Quincy Jones, Whitney Smith and Edgardo Contini. All three became leading lights and internationally known. Their designs were so unique and so far ahead of their time that the Federal Housing Administration would not approve mortgages in Crestwood Hills. A delegation had to be sent to Washington, DC to convince the bureaucrats to allow funding.
After much struggle, the homes were built and Mutual Housing Association, having served its purpose, turned into the Crestwood Hills Association. Instead of the community owning the homes and land, with the members owning shares in Mutual Housing (the initial plan), individuals took title. However, the communal ideal never quite left. The Crestwood Hills pioneers (some of whom still live here) purchased the land, hired a design team, obtained financing, hired contractors, opened a credit union, built a nursery school, donated a park to the city and created a community for themselves and for their successors.
In later years, the original Mutual Housing structures would be joined by housing designs of other notable architects, including Craig Ellwood, Rodney Walker, Ray Kappe, William S. Beckett and Richard Neutra. Today, more than 300 families make the neighborhood their home.
We are very proud of Crestwood Hills and cherish its past and future. We hope you will too!
Want to learn more about the area history?
The stories of Crestwood Hills are endless—the Bel Air fire, the Hollywood Ten, the Mutual Withdrawees. The neighborhood has been the subject of many publications, including the following:
Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia
by Cory Buckner
A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living
by Brooke Hodges
In conjunction with a Hammer Museum exhibition of the same name
A. Quincy Jones
by Cory Buckner