Man Ordered to Rebuild Home

A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra was ordered this week to rebuild it exactly as it was.

The city Planning Commission also ordered Ross Johnston to add a sidewalk plaque telling the entire saga of the house's origins in the 1930s, its demolition and replication.

At first glance, this might be perceived as a local planning commission going too far with telling a homeowner what to do with their property...but in this case, the owner tried to pull a fast one.

Johnston purchased the 1936 residence, known as the Largent House, in 2017 for $1.7 million.

Johnston had planned to remodel the 1,300-square-foot home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and submitted his plans for the two-story house to the city, which mostly kept the first floor intact. His permit was approved.  But that is not what he did.  

Instead, he just simply demolished his home with the goal of rebuilding on the lot with a 4,000 square foot, $5 million dollar home (which the city would have never approved).  After being "caught" by his neighbors that were shocked to see the landmark house demolished, he applied for a retroactive demolition permit which was denied and instead was ordered to rebuild the house, just as it was!

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