People: Richard Neutra
City: East Grand Rapids
The Carl F. and Eva List House is located in northeast Grand Rapids overlooking Reeds Lake. It is located on a cul-de-sac at the extreme western end of Manhattan Road. The house is set back from the lake front, but is aligned with an open public access lot that allows for expansive views of the water. The wooded property slopes significantly from northwest to southeast. The design of the post and beam house utilizes the sloping site by raising the living area above the two-car garage in order to maximize views of the lake and capture cool breezes coming off of the water in the summertime. There are two entrances to the house: the first is a single door adjacent to the garage, and the second is located up the slope of the hill at the intersection of the T-shaped plan. The roof of the house is flat with a wide overhang that provides protection from the sun and shelters a balcony across the front of the lake-facing south elevation. The exterior of the house is mostly clad with board-and-batten wood siding painted deep brown. Masonry support walls constructed with vertically oriented, beige-colored bricks provide visual interest to the exterior. Excess mortar has been applied to the vertical joints allowing them to ooze, while the horizontal joints are struck creating a unique textured surface. Large aluminum windows and railings contrast with the natural colored wood exterior.
The List House was built in 1961 as a retirement home for Dr. Carl F. List and his wife, Eva. The Lists were originally from Austria, and Carl was the first neurosurgeon to practice in Grand Rapids. It is likely that being from Austria influenced the Lists' decision to select fellow countryman Richard Neutra to design their home. According to the current owner, Neutra spent time at the site during construction and is known to have provided specific direction to the masons about precisely how he wanted the mortar joints to appear on the brick walls.
Carl List died in the early 1970s, approximately the same time as Neutra, and Eva lived in the house until the late 1990s. The house sat vacant for a few years until it was purchased by new owners. Although the original plans included a "bomb shelter" in the basement, the Lists changed the function of this space to a dark room, as Eva was an avid and talented photographer. Apparently several houses on the street contain bomb shelters, a remnant of the Cold War era.
The List House is said to be Neutra's only residential commission in Michigan.