Theses (Historic Preservation)


Elizabeth Sexton

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



This thesis examines the beginnings of the Adobe Revival (c. 1894-1948) in Los Angeles. It presents an analysis of the economic, cultural, political, and environmental factors that worked together to shift biases and generate renewed interest in adobe’s practical applicability for modern housing in the early twentieth century. By 1920, several architects, builders, and developers – most of whom were transplants to the state – began to experiment with adobe construction as a residential design solution for the rapidly expanding city. Prompted by a shortage of wood and resulting price surge following World War I, these individuals embraced adobe, claiming it better-suited to the region – rooted by style, tradition, and as an appropriate technology – than wooden construction. As these newcomers adopted adobe, recognizing the beneficial properties of the region’s early extant examples, they simultaneously altered the traditional construction with cement-based modifications that purportedly modernized the building technology. An examination of the Adobe Revival thus offers to not only explore past attempts to build ecologically appropriate construction, but further to deconstruct notions of colonization and cross-cultural hybridity that that can shed much light on placemaking and identity in Los Angeles, thus challenging the status quo.


earthen architecture, adobe construction, appropriate technology, John Byers, Victor Girard



Date Posted: 16 September 2020