Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1920s clearance in San Marino?

Is it just me, or do there seem to be a lot of 1920s houses on the market in San Marino?

1808 St. Albans (1925, $2.375 million)

635 Winston Avenue (1930, $1.98 million, sale pending)

1740 Ramiro Road (1928, $2.19 million)

1760 Ramiro Road (1928, $2.15 million)

556 S. Berkeley (1928, $1,995 million)

I'm not sure what the comps are, but compared to the Palisades Riviera, for example, you seem to get a lot for your money here—not only space but history.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

California Coastal Records Project

Before there was Google Earth, there was the California Coastal Records Project.

Since 2002, helicopter pilot Gabrielle Ademan and photographer Kenneth Adelman have been photo-documenting the entire coast of California, from the Oregon border to Mexico on their website
California Coastal Records Project.

Gabrielle and Kenneth Adelman.

In addition to their own photographs of the coast, the Adelmans have been given custodianship of other coastal documentary materials from the California Coastal Conservancy, the California Dept. of Water Resources, and the California Dept. of Boating and Waterways dating back to 1972, making their website a treasure of environmental documentation spanning 37 years and counting.

The results can be searched by longitude and latitude, by landmark, and by date.

The project got a shot of celebrity when prima donna "environmentalist" Barbra Streisand sued the Adelmans for invasion of privacy for photographing her blufftop Malibu house. Babs lost. She wound up paying the Adelmans' legal fees in the amount of $155,567.04.

Streisand Bluff, Malibu, 2002 (click image for high-resolution version).

Santa Monica Beach, 1972.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Los Angeles newsies

I ran across these photos by Lewis Hine of L.A. newsies, circa 1915, in the Library of Congress research archive. The images have been very slightly touched up and their contrast enhanced. The captions are based on the original titles. Click on each for a larger view.

Nine-year-old newsie and his seven-year-old brother "Red." Tough specimen of an L.A. newsboy.

May 1915.

May 1915.

Nine-year-old newsie, the "boss fighter of Fifth Street."

A "drunk" buys the stock of a six-year-old newsie.

Six-year-old short-change expert.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A holdout hits the market

This cute little holdout house in the Westlake District, built in 1900 and now scrunched between two later buildings built in 1923 and 1990, just hit the market for what seems like a very reasonable $300,000 (for a reported four bedrooms). The listing is here.

1320 Ingraham Street.

Aerial view.

Common worldwidethis example in China is rather infamousthe architectural holdout, also known as the spite house or nail house, has a proud tradition in urban (anti)development—just ask the builders of Hollywood's W Hotel, who had to incorporate the building that once housed Bernard Luggage Co. into their project.

Here are a couple of other recent American examples, not so incorporated.


Washington, D.C.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Oranges and pomegranates in Beverly Hills

Stewart and Lynda Resnick are improving their splendid and historic estate at 9481 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

9481 Sunset Boulevard from the air.

Among other details, the project involved buying the two lots adjacent to their 1929 Beaux Arts mansion (already a done deal) and installing an extensive grove of mature orange trees as well as moving the entry gates. Landscape architect Mark Rios, partner at Rios Clementi Hale Studios and A. C. Martin Visiting Professor in Architectural Design at USC, is in charge of the landscaping.

The 16,000-plus-square-foot mansion, which looks a full generation older than its official 1928 date and could be by McKim, Mead and White, was designed by architect Francis Xavier Lourdou* for Dionicio Botiller and his wife, Francisca Bernard Botiller. Francisca was the daughter of Swiss immigrant businessman Jean Bernard and Susana Machado de Bernard (as a widow, Susana built the mansion at 845 South Lake Street in the West Adams district); Dionicio was a land-owner and (later) tax collector for Beverly Hills, according to his great-great-granddaughter. (I'm still piecing together the history of this estate, so any further info would be appreciated.)

The Resnick mansion with two adjacent properties, now part of the estate.

The Resnicks recently petitioned the Beverly Hills Planning Commission for a variance that would allow them to fence the entire property with new above-code (i.e. over six-foot) fencing replicating the existing historic fence, and to bring the new fence up to the property line instead of conforming to the mandated 36-inch setback.

The original fence will be replicated and extended across the entire streetfront.

The existing 17-foot gate posts will be removed to either end of the new, expanded estate, which measures a whopping 535 feet of prime Sunset Boulevard streetfront, and will be offset into the property to allow for "stacking" of automobiles entering and leaving the property so as not to block traffic. Happily, the house will remain open to view from the street, unlike so many foliage-shrouded Beverly Hills mansions.

New west-side driveway already poured.

The variance was granted by a thrilling 3-to-1 vote (some watch college football; I watch Planning Commission hearings). The complete blow-by-blow of the November 19 session includes an appearance by the formidable and forthright Lynda Resnick (allow time to load; it's item no. 3 on the agenda).

East-side driveway under construction.

So, you're may be asking, where did the money come from?

West façade.

The Resnicks, through their holding company, Roll International, are owners of Telefora florist delivery service, the Franklin Mint, Neptune Pacific shipping line,
Fiji Water, and POM pomegranate juice, among other business interests. (See this interesting story on POM from The Guardian.)

Stewart Resnick, who worked his way through UCLA by washing windows, also owns major tracts of corporate farmland in California's Central Valley, including pistachios, almonds, lemons, oranges, and—of course—pomegranates.

The couple, near billionaires who have a liberal bent in both politics and charity, have donated tens of millions to philanthropic causes, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the Renzo Piano–designed Resnick Pavilion) and funds for a psychiatric hospital at UCLA and an energy institute at Cal Tech. Lynda is an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.

A glimpse of elegance in the orange grove.

I have been in love with this house since I first saw it, 15 years ago. I would be quite content living in the stylish penthouse with its chic black awnings.

Best little penthouse in Beverly Hills.

*Not François Debeur-Voideau as originally reported.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sic transit

The Garden Court Apartments, at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard, designed by Frank Meline, opened in 1919 as Hollywood's grandest apartment building. It was home to Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mac Sennett, and Louis B. Mayer, among others.

The building was demolished in the early 1980s (despite being on the National Register of Histioric Places, no. #82004981) and replaced with the voguishly "high tech" Galaxy Theater complex.

According to this 1982 Time magazine story, there was a valiant attempt to save the building from the wrecker's ball, but as the developer interested in demolishing the building put it: "She was a grand lady, but now she's gone. Someone has to pull the plug."

Here's a graphic look at the building's heydey, degeneration, and humiliation:

1924: Home to stars and czars.

1976: Motor Hotel.

1981: Abandoned haven of junkies and squatters.

The replacement: Hollywood Galaxy complex.

7021 Hollywood Boulevard today.

With 72 suites (with, originally, a grand piano in each one), the Garden Court could have been a plum condo building in the very heart of a revitalized Hollywood.