Milton Black, a noted architect in 1930s Los Angeles, is associated with the fashionable and prevalent deco style of the period called Streamline Modern. This genre was popular both in commercial and residential real estate, including the growing number of large, luxury apartment buildings of the era. The style is reminiscent of maritime themes, which included porthole windows, streamlined curves, metallic banding and railings, pocket doors, bridge-like decks and the innovative use of glass block construction, serving both wall and window functions.
Milton Black was called the master of Streamline Modern design, yet he shared the spotlight with William Kesling, who, although was never trained formally as an architect, built many homes in this style as well. Both Black and Kesling worked mainly in Los Feliz and Silverlake, where many examples of their work can be found. Possibly one of the finest homes built in this style, the Ulm House, has some controversy surrounding the credit for its design, since it was a collaboration of both men. It is a fantastic showcase for the details that define the genre. Another fine example of Milton Black’s work is the estate he built for Jack Haley (The Tin Man, from the Wizard of Oz), on Rossmore Avenue in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park enclave. The magnificent home was turned into the Mauritania apartments, and has been carefully restored and maintained in the style Milton Black would have been proud of. The grand building has been home to actors, models, and style seekers. Its most famous resident (for only 4 days), was the young John F. Kennedy, who watched the election results from the penthouse there, when he won the Democratic nomination for president.