Elizabeth Honnold-Harris Remembers

Elizabeth Honnold-Harris, daughter of Douglas and Elizabeth Honnold

Letter to Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch, March 30, 2000, discussing how the Harvey house came to be:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Glazer,

This will be forwarded by the kind people at “Vanity Fair”, where I saw that superb article about your Lautner house. I am personally delighted that you are its new owners, and from what the article said about your conscientious & caring efforts in its restoration, you have honored John Lautner indeed.

To introduce myself, I am the stepdaughter of John Lautner, the daughter of his second wife Elizabeth. She and John married when I was 14, and between my various schools and colleges, I was a member of their household from age 14 until my marriage in the late 1950’s. Our wedding reception was in the garden described below.

I thought you might like to hear a reminiscence of the true birthday of your house. At the time, John was having what the family termed “a thin time”…i.e., only about half a job on the boards and nothing coming in whatsoever. My mother had a deep and abiding faith in John’s work, and a total confidence that the good angels of architecture would, in time, provide. Her rock-solid faith, along with many pots of stretchable meals & deferred payroll moments with two or three loyal draftsmen (one of whom room/boarded with us to keep it all going) led to the moment described below.

Since John’s drafting room/office was on the same lot as our house on El Cerrito Place in Hollywood, a conversion of a 3-car garage at the end of the driveway, we could sit at the french-windowed dining room and see out over the garden and into the drafting room windows. We were having lunch one day, probably garbanzos with the last bits of ham, and John said that a possible new client was coming to see him at 1:00 o’clock. We all said Ohhhhhhh GREAT, let’s hope-a-hope. As we were finishing lunch, we saw a sturdy business-suited short stocky fellow with his hat on straight and a determined gait come marching down the driveway. John folded his napkin and went down to the drafting room while we kept our fingers crossed. Time passed…mother invoked the Architecture Angel…and after we saw (what turned out to be) Leo J. Harvey march back down the driveway away from the drafting room, we all piled outside and said WHAT HAPPENED. John, with an amazed grin and with an upraised big hand flashed that loveliest of items….The Retainer Check. Further information was that Leo J. had seen one of John’s houses in a publication and had decided that the best was just right for Harvey of Harvey Aluminum. He wanted the best, he wanted a house that nobody else could have or imagine, and he was exacting, picky, firm and totally committed right from the first. He paid the various increments of the fee as they came due without protest or second-guessing, he pored over materials catalogues and took John’s judgements on everything as The Way It Ought To Be. He was, in sum, a Perfect Client.

I hope my very personal reminiscence fleshes out the history of your house…you are indeed worthy successors to Leo J. Harvey, whose ‘clienthood’ broke the thin time days and opened up John’s professional successes for the years that followed. My mother always maintained to her last days that Leo J. Harvey was, in fact, the Architecture Angel…that he should march down the driveway with a checkbook and commitment is, for us, proof positive!

With best regards for continued happiness in the house you care so much about,

Elizabeth Honnold-Harris


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