The following is excerpted from the "Cultural Resources Documentation Report Westwood: North and East Villages" Prepared by Johnson Heumann Research Associates for the City of Los Angeles Department of Planning May 15, 1987
NORTH VILLAGE NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY
The North Village residential area, adjacent to the University's western boundary, developed somewhat more slowly than the sections to the east and south. First to be constructed were the fraternity chapter houses, arranged along Gayley, Landfair, and Strathmore. The Janss Corporation, through the Westwood Mortgage and Investment Co. actively promoted the acquisition of these parcels by the fraternities, and in many cases, was active in the design and construction as well. Several fraternity houses exemplify many of the traits associated with the original Mediterranean character of the North Village, while others are variations of the American Colonial Revival style popular in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Beta Theta Pi at 581 Gayley is an example of the former, designed in the Spanish style by a Janss architect, Howard Wells, and built by Westwood Mortgage in 1930 at a cost of $26,000. Built as a "hotel", the 35-room structure was owned by a member of the Janss Corporation. Another designer/builder who maintained a high profile in the area and who built a number of fraternities and sororities was Earl Chester who designed and constructed the Spanish-style Alpha Tau Omega house at 613 Gayley in 1929, and the American Colonial Revival, Upsilon Gamma (now Sigma Pi) house, in 1930. Other houses were designed by architects Witmer and Watson (Theta Xi, 1929), M.C. Buest (Alpha Sigma Phi, 1929), noted Los Angeles architect Milton Black with Beverly Hills builder Herbert Riesenberg (Delta Sigma Phi, 1930), and Santa Monica-based G.M. McAlister (Delta Tau Delta, 1939).
Two Spanish-style fraternity houses of exceptional quality are located on Strathmore. Both are associated with prominent Southern California architects. Webber and Spaulding, architects of such famous residences as Harold Lloyd's "Greenacres", designed the Phi Kappa Sigma house at 10938 in 1929. The 25-room chapter house cost $31,000 and contains many of the elements associated with the style. At 11024 is the chapter house of Kappa Sigma, built by Herbert Riesenberg and attributed to famed black architect Paul Williams. Williams originally prepared the plans for Westwood Mortgage and Investment Co.
The remainder of the North Village was set aside for multifamily housing. Development in this section proceeded more slowly than in the East Village ("sorority row"). The first wave of building took place during the years 1929 to 1933, and ranged from duplexes to apartment houses. Architectural development was along the same lines as in other areas, and was dominated by Spanish Colonial Revival apartments with terraced courtyards conforming to the hillside topography. By the mid-1930s, architectural restrictions had been relaxed and a number of American Colonial Revival buildings began to be built next to their Mediterranean counterparts. In addition, modernists such as Richard Neutra began to place International Style buildings in the Village. Most notable were Neutra's pioneering designs for the Strathmore and Landfair Apartments, whose unornamented expanses of stucco and glass and precision design stood in stark contrast to the softer lines of the earlier Spanish and Colonial buildings. By the time the United States entered Ward War II at the end of 1941, however, substantial vacant land remained in the North Village.
Wartime rationing of building materials slowed construction, and it was not until 1946 that building resumed in the area. Architecturally, these postwar apartments were almost indistinguishable from their prewar counterparts, with the majority being designed in variation of American Colonial styles. Most continued to be two- and three-story buildings, with terraced site plans, and garages located close to the street. This pattern of development continued until the mid-1970s, when the assembling of parcels resulted in larger scale complexes.
Analysis of the built environment of Westwood has revealed 56 buildings in the North Village which can be classified according to the California Office of Historic Preservation's categories of National Register of Historic Places eligibility. The Register is the official list of the Nation's historic resources worthy of preservation.
The original plan for Westwood Village included a multifamily residential component designed to house students and faculty for nearby UCLA. Advertisements in the Los Angeles Times (3-31-29 and 4-14-29) announced the availability of four blocks of "income lots ...in the shadow of the University of California campus...just a few steps from the new, widened Wilshire Boulevard." The arrival of 6,000 students in September of the same year was emphasized as an added inducement. The plan was to create neighborhoods of apartments which would serve as a transition from the commercial district to the single family residents to the east. The winding streets followed configurations previously established by shallow canyons or arroyos. Design guidelines included cost minimums, height limits, and general stylistic requirements. Investors were assured that "the general Mediterranean type of construction will be maintained in keeping with beautification plans outlined for the entire Village area." (Los Angeles Times, 4-14-29, pt. V p.5)
The apartment complexes on the periphery of Westwood Village were an integral part of the Village plan as originally conceived by the Janss Corporation.