Jett Loe wanted to be an architect, became a photographer and director, and now photographs and directs videos about architecture. His current project documents the Los Angeles neighborhood of West Adams. The area is full of historic architecture and generous homeowners—just the kind of place that inspires us, too.
Ever since childhood, I’ve been in love with architecture. Specifically houses. Even more specifically, the homes of a hundred years ago. You know the kind: Wooden and brick structures full of amazing detail, hand-crafted, and—compared to the seemingly robot-built homes of today—built to last.
My pre-teen and adolescent years can be traced and tracked through my sketchbooks, overflowing with drawings of fanciful homes I designed. But somewhere, some when, my ardor for architecture cooled. I don’t know why. I moved on, left the U.S., and ended up living in London directing wacky pie-in-the-face comedy shows for the BBC. I had given up my young romance with the architecture of the Craftsman, the Gothic, the Beaux Arts, and had even forgotten that I had given up. Until…I moved to Los Angeles.
And saw these.
Who knew L.A. had this kind of houses? I certainly didn’t.
I’m talking about the absolutely astonishing homes—hundreds, perhaps thousands, of astonishing homes in L.A.’s West Adams District.
It was complete happenstance that I found them. There I was, new to town, looking at ugly strip-mall architecture at the intersection of Western Avenue and Washington Boulevard. I had signed on to share a house near there, and was headed to see my new living quarters. As I walked west from the intersection, I turned up a side street. I was stunned.
I felt like I’d stumbled upon what was, quite possibly, the greatest undiscovered architectural treasure west of the Mississippi. I’ve lived all over the world and I’d never seen anything like this. When I’ve talked to experts in the field, and even native Angelenos, the most detailed response I get is along the lines of “Oh yeah, I’ve heard there’s some nice houses around there.”
It’s a lot more than that. If you come to Los Angeles, you’ve got to see this area for yourself. Some of these homes still have gaslight! If you can’t visit but still want to see what the fuss is about, just go to UntoldLA.com.