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9. Isaac Milbank house, 1911 9. Isaac Milbank house, 1911
236 Adelaide Dr.
Architect: Milwaukee Building Company / Meyer & Holler

Isaac Milbank house, 1911
236 Adelaide Dr.

Isaac Milbank house, 1911
photo by Michael Grandcolas

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This extraordinary property is a win-win from a historical standpoint. It’s associated with a significant owner - Isaac Milbank - and a significant architectural firm - the Milwaukee Building Company. (More info with landmark #10).

In the early years of the 20th century, Isaac Milbank was a nationally known industrialist, a co-founder of the Borden Milk Company, and an oil industry investor. He made Los Angeles his permanent home, and maintained a vacation residence in Santa Monica. The house still remains within the family; it was the granddaughter of Isaac Milbank, Mrs. Phila Caldwell, who applied for landmark status for the property.

According to Fortune Magazine, "a number of Milbanks have been considerable figures in the industrial history of the U.S. and the family has also left its mark on the educational and medical institutions of the country."

The summer retreat Milbank had constructed in 1911 is a 5,681 square-foot Craftsman style home. It’s said to have remarkable preservation, with most of the original siding, windows and other detailing still intact. It’s noted for its complex roofline, wide over-hanging eaves with exposed rafters, ribbon casement windows, and extensive use of shakes, as well as its ancillary structures (garage, shed and porte-cochere), mature landscaping (Morton Bay Fig and two Canary Island Palms) and circular drive. The only known change to the front façade is the removal of railings on the second floor balcony. Interior features include much of the original moldings, hardwood floors, and built-in closets and shelving. The primary elevation is set back from Adelaide Drive and Santa Monica Canyon to the north. The property measures approximately 150 feet by 210 feet.

Other parts of the property remain untouched. The original garage and attached caretaker's unit are intact, as is a small Craftsman-style shed used for various purposes over the years. A 3-car carport was constructed on the property in 1970. The tall palm tree located within the circular driveway in the back of the house can be seen in its sapling phase in 1913. The property also sports a Moreton Bay Fig tree located on the north side of the back yard that is comparable to the City Landmark Moreton Bay Fig Tree (landmark #20) located at the Miramar Hotel. Significant landscape features also include two Canary Island Palm trees.

The Isaac Milbank House is an excellent example of the Craftsman style; some say the best such example in the City of Santa Monica. The architectural consistency of the design and the attention to detailing, including the design of accessory buildings, makes this property so very valuable a study of the early 20th Century Craftsman style in Santa Monica.

Additionally, this building is associated with the development of the City of Santa Monica's resort industry and its expansion of weekend/beach dwellings. In the early 20th century there was a trend by wealthy Los Angeles families to build coastal vacation homes. The Isaac Milbank house was one of the first summer residences constructed along Adelaide Drive. The home remained a vacation retreat until it became the full-time residence of the current owner in the 1950s. The structure is also eligible individually for the National Register of Historic Places.