In 1915, Bertram Goodhue designed an estate for Henry Dater on a larger parcel of land on Sycamore Canyon Road. The original estate contained the main residence, numerous terraces and a magnificent pool which integrated the structures into a rather complex site. The Val Verde Estate was designed during the same period that Goodhue designed the Pan American Exposition in San Diego. These two projects helped establish Goodhue as one of the lead practitioners of the emerging style of architecture that blended traditional Spanish Colonial architecture with the clean lines of Modernism. A prolific artist, Goodhue’s skillful hand was able to integrate austere architectural elements with an architecture that tends toward the ornate.

The painting shows a portion of the entry to the main residence. We see the simple treatment of a window, devoid of surrounds, shutters, iron work or any other form of ornamentation. Strict Modernists would have stripped the muttons (cut ups) of the window leaving just a single pane of glass and they probably would have insisted on wall treatment that would not “age.” But by allowing a slight reference to the past, the building blends with the dominant architectural style of the South Coast.

Henry Dater sold his property to Charles Ludington in 1925. Charles and his son, Wright, hired Lockwood de Forest Jr., and over the next 30 years modified the original estate into the property we find today.