This is a curious house with a curious history. It’s been seen in films and TV shows and residents need to access the place via a funicular. And it had curious beginnings.
The original owner had been given the piece of land and the fact that he didn’t have the budget to build a spectacular home didn’t stop him. He searched for, and acquired, sponsorship. Leonard Malin, the owner, had a budget of $30,000.
Architect John Lautner was Malin’s designer of choice and the building was designed in 1960. Typically of the era, and as you can easily tell from the photographs of the place, the new space age was an influence although Lautner later denied this saying that the design was the best solution to the problem of the sloping land.
Malin was an engineer (not in aerospace as a later myth suggested due to the design of the house) and he managed to get sponsorship from chemical companies. Therefore ‘Malin House’ as it was intended to be called, became known as the Chemosphere due to sponsorshp received from Chemseal Corp.
Malin and his family lived in the house until the early seventies.
Although the house was used in films and television programmes (see below), in 1976 it was the location of a real-life murder. The new owner, Dr. Richard F. Kuhn, was murdered by two men (one of whom was his homosexual lover) aged only 19 and 20. The two were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Publisher and art expert Benedikt Taschen bought the property in 1998 and has owned it ever since.
Although Chemosphere House is not open to the public, it’s easily spotted from the road. See the map below. And it’s a must for twentieth-century architecture enthusiasts.
FILM AND TV HISTORY
The building was first used in a dramatic film as a futuristic residence in “The Duplicate Man”, a 1964 episode of the ABC TV-program The Outer Limits, based on a science fiction story by American author Clifford D. Simak. Exterior scenes for the television episode were shot on location; a detailed sound stage set of the house’s interior was built. It was also used in the 1984 film Body Double, directed by Brian De Palma.
It appears in the end credits of the 2015 Disney fantasy film, Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney
DETAILS FROM WIKIPEDIA
HOW TO FIND CHEMOSPHERE