Historic Citrus Ave. house quickly demolished

| October 31, 2019 | 12 Comments

361 N. CITRUS AVE. was designed in 1927 by architects Henry Knauer and Clarence Smale. It featured custom millwork, leaded glass windows, an original Batchelder tiled fireplace and more.

Neighbors on Citrus Avenue, just west of Hancock Park, were shocked on Oct. 23 when the historic 1927 home at 361 N. Citrus Ave., at the southwest corner of Oakwood Ave., was summarily demolished in one day, after no effective advance notice.

ALL THAT WAS LEFT, the evening of Oct. 23.

Especially shocked was the couple that sold the house on September 18. As Dave and Cassidy Cole write in an accompanying letter to the editor of the Chronicle, they sold their house to these particular buyers because of the buyers’ clear representations made in a July 29 letter sent to the sellers. “However, we were not aware that their letter was full of lies,” write the sellers. (Read buyers’ full letter here.) 

The unannounced demolition generated a citywide reaction. An article appeared on lacurbed.com on the day of the demolition, and the story generated more than 300 comments in just three days. In that Curbed Los Angeles piece (at tinyurl.com/y2eqopz8), the buyer, Reuven Gradon, a real estate professional, defended his demolition of the “beautifully cared- for home” (his words in the letter he wrote on July 29 to the now-former owners).

361 N. CITRUS from the air, with Citrus at top and Oakwood at left.

To convince the sellers to sell, Mr. Gradon had written:

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cole,

“Thank you for preserving such a beautiful family home, and for taking the time to consider our offer.

“When we saw that 361 N Citrus was available, we were immediately excited. This home is exceptional both in character and in location and is the home of our dreams.

“I grew up in this neighborhood and love everything about it.… Your home is where we want to continue to deepen our roots.

“The character of the home is also something that we love.… beautiful buildings with that 20’s character and charm have always held a special place in my heart.… With your home, it is already so beautifully cared for with such incredibly rich character, it gets me even more excited to call it home.

SELLER David Cole took a goodbye photograph of 361 N. Citrus, having been assured by the buyers, Reuven and Shevy Gradon, that they looked forward to hosting “friends and family for years to come” in the house.

“We appreciate your considering our offer. We look forward to having our family dinners together in the dining room, and hosting Shabbat meals with friends and family for years to come. We are strong believers in the idea ‘home is where the heart is’ — and would fill this home with much joy and heart.

“With great appreciation and warm regards,

“Reuven and Shevy Gradon …”

And now the house with “such incredibly rich character” is no more. What will replace it remains to be seen.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Gabe says:

    This is so sad and infuriating! Having been in the home many times I can attest that it had been lovingly and professionally maintained and was NOT a teardown. In fact there had been recent upgrades to the plumbing etc. The deceptive way they went about it is disgusting and this is a huge loss to the neighborhood. I hope that someone is watering those beautiful sycamore trees while that lot sits vacant.

  2. Clint Lohr says:

    That letter to the sellers is as underhanded as it gets. Anything to get their offer accepted! As a realtor, most of the dishonesty I’ve seen is on the part of the public–not the real estate agents who get a bad rap for being shady.

  3. Johnny says:

    The neighbors didn’t stand around watching, I for one stood in front of the bulldozer while the workers went around us with axes to hack out the leaded glass windows, hard carved beams, and deface the facade in a matter of minutes, …the neighborhood is distraught but through lies, deception, manipulation, and not following the law regarding posting intent to demolish signs Reuven and Shevy Gradon got exactly what they wanted…we look forward to welcoming them to the neighborhood.

  4. Kat says:

    This was such a beautiful and special home! It is devastating it is gone and extremely disappointing that lies were told that it would remain protected and loved by the new owners. And that letter is so morally corrupt after what he did. What a disgrace! And I wish he would have decided to at least remove parts of the house in a historical preservation way. I would have bought a number of parts of that incredible home.

  5. Casey Towle says:

    I completely agree – so sad that deception was used to tear down a beautiful home.

  6. Mansfield Neighbor says:

    Thanks for a great article that focuses on what truly matters in this case. I’m a property rights kind of guy, and it’s a shame to lose such a lovely house. But the real travesty is that we now have a morally bankrupt lying [person] living in our neighborhood that sold his name and soul for a piece of dirt. Thanks for exposing him, and may karma act swiftly.

  7. You Mei says:

    Heartless, selfish criminals, plain and simple. What you wanna bet they plan to build a McMansion…

  8. Gail Landers says:

    Too bad they cannot be sued for misrepresentation and forced to rebuild that home as it was before they got their grubby paws on it.
    It will be a mitzvah when what they did comes back as karma.

  9. Michael J Scheidt says:

    How very sad to loose this charming piece of special architectural history but even more so, to loose another bit of trust in humanity and feel the hurt for the rest of your life.
    Lesson learned: put it in the contract!

  10. GZ says:

    Isn’t this a violation of the Demolition Notification Ordinance (Scorched Earth) and can’t this Gradon putz be subjected to a 15-year moratorium on building in that now vacant spot?

  11. bobby shephard says:

    there’s a moratorium to build? new homes add value to the neighborhood. Why do you all care so much?
    it’s America friends– we build and improve…

    HPOZ is to the south – not here.
    wake up!!

    • J.R. Mellon says:

      This building was the 1927 show home of the California born architect Clarence J. Smale, who’s body of work includes multiple Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments. It was a home designed by a noted architect and painstakingly maintained for 92 years. You wake up.

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