Edward Fickett has been credited with designing between 40,000 and 60,000 buildings—from humble ranch tracts in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley to custom canyon homes and the 1952 Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. His 1999 University of Southern California obit mentions he was an architectural advisor to the Eisenhower administration, yet, chances are, you never heard of him. You’re not alone.
In 2003 Jim and Marianne Fox stumbled onto an online listing showing a Fickett house with killer views of Griffith Observatory, Bronson Canyon and the downtown LA skyline. Trouble was, it was already under contract. Built as an 800-square-foot one-level house hanging on the edge of what was originally the Hollywoodland development, the house the Foxes lusted after had been bumped up to 1,100 square feet by an architecture enthusiast like themselves.
Back in 1953 Ed Fickett was commissioned by the Grier family to build a modest weekend retreat from their Lakewood home in the heart of suburbiana—an environment they reportedly chafed under. The floor plan had a kitchen, bathroom, an open living area with most likely a partitioned sleeping area and a two-level deck. Consulting blueprints of the original structure for authenticity, the third owner added a lower floor with a master bedroom and bath in the 1980s. By the time the Foxes found it, a spiral staircase led from the living room down to this level, and a third outdoor deck was accessed directly from the new bedroom.
Long story short, the house fell out of escrow and the Foxes snatched it up.
The couple did everything they can to nab this fixer-upper Fickett, which includes saying “good-bye” to some of their favorite things—check back to see what in part 2!