Rare ‘Boat House’ in L.A. Floats Onto the Market for $920K, Sails Away With Offer

An iconic and rarely available “Boat House” in Los Angeles splashed onto the market in early February, with a list price of $920,000. Just one of eight of these iconic structures hovering over a hillside, it’s currently pending sale.

Designed by the self-taught architect Harry Gesner in the late 1950s, the home, which was built in 1959, was constructed by Norwegian shipbuilders.

Tucked into the Hollywood Hills, the two-bedroom, one-bathroom midcentury marvel appears to hang over the canyon below.

The “Boat House” on the market is the one on the right.

Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

The famed cabins perched on the hill are known as the “Boat Houses,” thanks to their “warm wood with angled ceilings, built-in furniture, and glass facades that, the Los Angeles Conservancy notes, “do feel a bit like boats.”

In fact, Gesner had been commissioned to design one of the homes originally for the bathing suit designer Fred Cole. The architect was aiming for a cross between a “Tahitian hut, with the strength and friendly warmth of a mountain cabin,” according to the Los Angeles Conservancy.

Unique in design, this rare abode is also is a standout in this competitive real estate market.

“What makes this home so special is that it is an architecturally significant midcentury home in the Hollywood Hills, with expansive views, for under $1 million,” says the listing agent, Justin Freeling with Compass.

“This particular ‘Boat House’ is the only one with built-in windows on the side to take in the views from the San Fernando Valley to the Hollywood Hills, the Hollywood sign, and beyond,” he adds. “It’s a rare offering that something so unique comes up at this price point.”

Sloping walls

Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

Open living and dining space

Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

Galley kitchen with skylight

Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

Loft with office

Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

Master bedroom

Loft with office

Second bedroom with built-in

Loft with office


Courtesy of Photographer Cody James

Although it measures only 1,136 square feet, the space feels larger, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows with sliding glass doors that lead out to a covered deck and the gorgeous views. The glass and wood blend in with the surrounding landscape, lending it a treehouse vibe.

An open, airy floor plan features handcrafted midcentury design elements with “hard-to-find materials” and original woodwork, the listing description notes.

Other highlights include new cork floors, an open and light-filled living and dining area, and a wood-burning stove.

The updated galley kitchen features a skylight, counter space, and wood cabinetry. The updated bathroom comes with a glassed-in shower and neutral tile. A lofted area leads to the home office, which can also serve as guest sleeping quarters.

Steps lead to the large master bedroom, with exposed, wood-beam ceilings, dual closets, and a wall of windows with hillside views. The property also includes stacked, in-unit laundry facilities, and a carport from the street side.

The quirky abode last sold for $811,000 in 2018, and is likely to sail quickly away with a new owner—it’s currently pending sale.

The last “Boat House” to come on the market in 2020 was snapped up in under 10 days.

Gesner’s visionary designs can be found around the L.A. area. His “Triangle House” in Tarzana, CA, which just sold, also featured his penchant for angular architecture that melds into the landscape through walls of glass and open space.

Triangle House in Tarzana, CA


Gesner, 95, has a portfolio of dramatic designs that are still celebrated, and are all of a piece with his exciting life, which included fighting in Normandy in World War II and surfing well into his 80s.

According to a profile in the New York Times, Gesner may be best-known for the iconic “Wave House” in Malibu, which was featured in the movie “Yesterday,” a fictional story about the Beatles. Gesner still lives nearby.

Malibu wave house
Wave House in Malibu, CA

Juergen Nogai

One of the boathouses served as a backdrop in the award-winning Netflix show “The Kominsky Method,” starring Michael Douglas.

 Justin Freeling and Rob Kallick of Take Sunset at Compass hold the listing.

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