2236 Brier Avenue in Silver Lake
Built in 1924, this cozy bungalow has seen a lot over the past century or so. Silver Lake is well-known for its eclectic culture and unique residents, thanks to Forbes Magazine’s “Best Hipster Neighborhood” designation. More recently, CNN Money took it further naming Silver Lake the #2 best big city neighborhood in the country. Most residents here are urban, young professional singles with mid-range incomes, and loving it. Silver Lake’s living expenses are less than other areas, yet the neighborhood is still considered upscale. For the best that the city has to offer, Silver Lake is the place. 2236 Brier Avenue – MLS#15-895953
Through the original Arts and Crafts nine-light glass doors you’ll find a large living room with great natural light, and hardwood floors. The layout is practical and efficient in keeping with craftsman-style homes.
Current owner, photographer and documentary filmmaker, Bill Johnson, has maintained the original architectural details while enjoying the finest aspects of living in an artistic home.
“I liked the fact that the living room isn’t cut up into small rooms,” notes Bill Johnson. “Windows with smaller panes where the you can see the blown glass, and the woodworking are a level of detail people wouldn’t do in today’s homes.”
“From the beginning it was an open back yard,” said Johnson. Extending the house into the accessible flat yard was important to a lover of the outdoors. “I’ve added pavilions and seating areas to be able to sit outside and enjoy it.”
From this gentle rise, Bill Johnson has enjoyed visiting with neighbors he has gotten to know over the 25 years of living at 2236 Brier. According to Johnson, Silver Lake hasn’t changed much since he moved in.
2236 Brier is still a block to Rockaway Records and the Red Lion Tavern–the beloved neighborhood icons were mainstays back then, and remain so now. In the time that Johnson has lived here, Ginger Grass and Silver Lake Wines have folded into the daily rhythm of the immediate neighborhood. Big changes are under way, however. Ralph’s supermarket has already begun its transformation into the up-scale Whole Foods Market.
For years Johnson has walked the reservoir most nights, joining people who drive in from nearby neighborhoods to use the 2.2-mile jogging path around the reservoir–one of the area’s main perks. On weekends, Angelenos swarm to the meadow, the grassy park east of the water.
Built in 1907, The Silver Lake Reservoir is at a crossroads now that its water resources will be replaced by an underground reservoir in Griffith Park. All this has generated excitement and/or anxiety over how the complex will be used in the future. There’s the Silver Lake Plunge plan, which would transform the smaller reservoir into a swimming area. An early rendering of the beach-meets-pool mash-up shows a sandy shore dotted with sunbathers and umbrellas and a lake partly delineated with lanes for swimming laps.
“It’ll be so attractive to everyone,” says Guy Vidal, a Silver Lake Reservoir Conservancy board member, “I just don’t know where they will all park.”
Vidal is a proponent of building a esplanade that spans the reservoirs on an existing dam at the complex. “I’d like to see the esplanade with benches and people walking there at dusk and enjoying the breeze off the water. Just being inside the grounds you can smell the pines and eucalyptus and are closer to nature.”
Johnson has a strong appreciation for beauty. He grew up on Oahu, Hawaii before coming to the mainland to study engineering at UC Berkeley. Putting himself through school, he worked summers for his uncle’s construction company, Shirley Brothers of Pasadena, and had a hand working on several projects in and around Los Angeles.
A graduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology set Johnson on a path of construction management. He was responsible for the creation of an entire city; Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah, Saudi Arabia, was a multi-billion dollar project at the terminus of an oil pipeline in the Persian gulf. Locally, Johnson had an illustrious stint as the manager of the Los Angeles County Redevelopment agency where he was in charge of procuring and developing commercial properties to generate investment in blighted areas.
His passion for photography lead to artist showings at: Silver Lake Coffee House; the Palm Springs Photo Festival; and the Arroyo Art Walk in Mt. Washington. His fine art photography has been recognized for a Merit Award in Black and White Magazine; Showcase for Outdoor Photographer Magazine; and a California Endowment Los Angeles. Johnson has published two books of his large format, fine art photography of landscapes.
For Johnson, the horizon has always had an allure. He says it’s time to move on for another opportunity. “My neighbors are what I’ll miss the most. They are really good people,” said Johnson. “There are a lot of younger people moving in and I like that as well.”
Now his passion is leading him to the Rodeo Life: “I am embarking on a major project to follow the rodeo and create a series of stories about strong characters in rodeo and ranching. This project is an opportunity for the people of rodeo and ranching to share their stories and create a better understanding of cowboy values,” said Johnson.
“My interests are in my documentary work,” said Johnson. “I’m moving to Denver, Colorado, where the stories are for me.”