Sunday, August 9, 2009

Splendid and spiritual in West Adams

I took a short drive down to West Adams and rediscovered the magnificent MacGowan mansion at 3726 West Adams Blvd. This is the kind of endlessly fascinating house that I have dreams about—full of nooks, crannies, alcoves, hidden staircases leading to secret rooms, and perhaps a madwoman in the attic.

3726 West Adams Blvd.

The house, Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #479, was designed in an Apline Craftsman style
in 1912 by architects Hudson and Munsell for Dr. Grandville MacGowan. A vigilant Los Angeles city health official, MacGowan had proposed in 1889 a law that would make the sale of opium illegal without a prescription, noting that "the servant girls are getting to use it."

The MacGowan house was purchased in 2002 by the organization of baby-faced spiritual guru and relentlessly best-selling author John-Roger, fka Roger Delano Hinkins: the spiritual conversion he experienced in 1963—thanks to a kidney stone—evidently caused Hinkins to drop his original name for the catchier and more marketable hyphenated moniker.

The house now serves as an adjunct facility for the spiritualist's Movement of Inner Spiritual Awareness, which has its headquarters two blocks east in a much more formal 1910 Beaux Arts mansion, also by Hudson and Munsell (
Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #478).

3500 West Adams Blvd.

This splendid edifice, which wouldn't look in the least out of place in St. Jean-Cap Ferrat, was originally the home
of 19th-century Central Valley grape mogul Secundo Guasti. In Hollywood's heyday of the late 1930s it was owned by choreographer Busby Berkeley. Just imagine the parties . . . .


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