Richard Neutra in Philadelphia
A four-bedroom, two-bath, 3,300-square-foot home originally, additions have tacked on 2,200 more square feet of living space. It took months and a large crew just to cut away the overgrown vines and weeds that had overtak- en the entire property, which includes a bam- boo forest. “Wild animals come and go as they please—most with little regard for us even when we are only separated by a pane of glass,” says owner John Hauser.

The master bedroom epitomizes the beauty of Neutra’s architecture. Note the stainless steel fascia board and the Jens Risom armchair and ottoman.

In 2007, my partner, George Acosta, and I moved to Philadelphia from Los Angeles for my work. Over the years, we loved escaping to Palm Springs, where we appreciated the midcentury modern architecture and the relaxing desert lifestyle. Many visits included a slow drive by our dream residence—The Kaufmann House on Vista Chino. One night George was browsing the Internet looking at real estate for sale. He called out, “You have to see this house; it’s a Neutra in Philadelphia!” I could hardly believe him and responded, “I don’t want to look because you will convince us to buy it.”

The next day we were at the property with our real estate agent. Known as the Hassrick House, it was marketed as “Renovate the Neutra-designed home or tear
it down.” Vacant for a number of years, it had fallen into heavy disrepair, like something out of Grey Gardens. Doors were unlocked and windows open. All sorts of animals
were living inside. Regardless, when we first walked up to it we looked at each other and both said, “We are buying this house.”

The asking price was very high for Philadelphia, especially considering the condition. While on an out of town trip, we made an offer, but it was rejected and we then contemplated a full-price counter. The thought of this home as a missed opportunity is what really motivated our decision, so we made financial arrangements for the purchase.
When we returned to Philadelphia we drove by on our way home from the airport. The For Sale sign was gone and all the doors had been secured with bolts and padlocks. Panicking, we called our agent, who discovered that the house had been foreclosed upon and was now owned by a local bank; the price had also been drastically reduced. After a roller coaster of obstacles, the home became ours. In fall 2008, we began the daunting task of bringing it back to life.

New Neutra

Now that the roller coaster of a purchase was over, the couple had to begin the research-heavy reno. Find out where they began in part 2!