RM Schindler’s Kaun Beach House – Update

Some sad news

Thanks to my readers

Special thanks to reader Steve Schuh and his Schindler facebook page for drawing my attention to the recent sales listing of the Kaun property, for visiting the Kaun site and taking this recent photo of the house and property.

Special thanks to reader Marlin Watson for visiting the property and sending me his impressions of its current condition.


When I was writing my three Kaun House posts, I tried to find the condition of the house, but was not able to contact the current residents. From aerial photos it looked like the house was still there, although extensively added-to and modified. The distinctive green roofing was gone.Alerted by Steve Schuh that the lot was recently on the market, I researched its recent history. Here is what I found.As part of a proposed subdivision of the large lot into three smaller lots, a historic evaluation report was prepared in 2007. That report concluded that the house “has been substantially altered over time and no longer retains sufficient integrity to convey its historic significance.” 1 The person who wrote the historic evaluation report, in an email to me, said “When we did the report, I surveyed the site with copies of the original Schindler drawings in hand. The property had been so overbuilt and altered, that I was completely disoriented until I noticed a chimney stack having a classic Schindler form. That became my bearing, and I was able to compare the changes accurately against the original drawings. As stated in our report, the alterations were so invasive, that the house bears no resemblance to Schindler’s design, and it has lost all historic integrity.” “I really wanted to find a little known, buried Schindler. Sadly, so much original building fabric was lost in the course of the alterations, that we had to stick to our finding.”

The subdivision, which necessitated that all of the existing structures be removed, was approved by the City of Richmond in 2008. 2Recently the new owner has proposed a different subdivision into two lots, but this subdivision also assumes that all the existing buildings will be removed. The existing buildings are still there at the moment, but it looks like they are destined to be removed in the near future. 3

Marlin Watson, in an August 12, 2011 email wrote “Time, an unfaithful recladding and an endless carpet of shantified additions have rendered it unrecognizable.” “But sadly, the house is now reclad in vertical boards and batts, and a series of small additions with inconsistent siding have clobbered the facade.”

It is sad that the original Kaun House was, over the years, remodeled practically out of existence.  It was a victim of unsympathetic and uncaring owners, its tiny size, large lot and prime bay front location. It gives me a strange feeling that this house will now be known mostly through the images I created for my posts.

This is a reminder of just how fragile houses, and great design, are. It leaves me with a great appreciation for the sympathetic owners of Schindler houses. We owe much thanks to them as the caretakers of their homes.

1      Historic Resource Evaluation Report, Alexander Kaun Beach House, March 2, 2007. Prepared by Carey & Co., Inc., page 1
2      City of Richmond, Ca Resolution 54-08, approved April 15, 2008.
3      Email from person who prepared historic report.

2 thoughts on “RM Schindler’s Kaun Beach House – Update”

  1. Sad news indeed.
    However, without being in the house or on the site, it's difficult to imagine all the fabric has been lost. I thought only complete demolition did this.

  2. Sad but true, I guess — the house and garage are entirely gone. The address according to my San Francisco architecture guide (Gebhard, Winter et al) is 125 Western Drive, Richmond. This Google map and street view (May 2011) put it at 207 Western Drive. The map shows no sign of the original structures or landscaping. . .

    Thanks to your lovely modeling, I feel I know what Schindler did, here. SDR

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