Restless Dracula, Part II: Bela Lugosi’s Hollywoodland Home and Its Promised Tranformation

June 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

Looking South from the Bela Lugosi House/All Photos Hope Anderson Productions

I finally got into the so-called Bela Lugosi house last June because the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association held a fundraiser there. (Disclosure: I was briefly a board member last year, but am no longer.) The house had just been sold after four decades of ownership, and its decrepitude was increasingly obvious from the outside. During the last rainy winter, its slate roof had to be tarped because of leaks. Outside, untended oak trees in the garden encroached the public stairs, forcing pedestrians to duck low-hanging branches.

The Dining Room

I’d already been warned the house had only one functioning bathroom, and that due to its condition we would not be allowed to use it. Nevertheless, upon entering I was pleasantly surprised: the public rooms were large and airy, with their original charm intact: wood beams, stone hearth and casement windows boasting beautiful views. My favorite room–a solarium connecting the living and dining rooms–faced Beachwood Village, the surrounding houses and trees, and the City below. To the north and south, the only nearby houses I saw were ones dating from the 1920s, like the one I was in. It struck me that I was enjoying the same views that Bela Lugosi saw during his residence, and for a moment I almost believed in time travel.

A few months ago, the new owner’s renovation of the house began in earnest. It promises to be a total overhaul with no expense spared, and not a moment too soon. Like Wolf’s Lair, the Lugosi House was bought by someone with deep pockets and a desire to restore it to its original 1926 glory. As a neighbor as well as local historian, I look forward to the result.

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§ 8 Responses to Restless Dracula, Part II: Bela Lugosi’s Hollywoodland Home and Its Promised Tranformation

  • Scott M says:

    Interesting. We lived in a big spanish-style place on Creston Dr in the ’70’s & ’80’s that we were told Lugosi lived in for awhile (he may have rented it?). Never able to confirm the story, though… (And it was literally down the street from Wolf’s Lair…)

    • That must be 2643 Creston, a 1927 5,581 square foot Spanish. According to the Movieland Directory, he lived in an apartment there around 1932–did it have a cottage? This was well before he move across the Canyon to the Westshire house. It’s my understanding that–like most early movie stars–Lugosi always rented, never owned.

      • wilberfan says:

        Wow, you’re good! That’s EXACTLY where it was… There was no cottage, but it’s a 2-story, 4-bedroom place. He would have rented the entire house, though, wouldn’t he? (Dracula had been released the year before.)

        There was what we called the “maids room”–a bedroom upstairs next to the kitchen with it’s own bathroom and a separate entrance from the front of the house… I guess he could have rented that??

      • I agree; he must have rented the whole thing–not only because he was successful but because it was the trough of the Depression and rent was probably $50 a month. A lot of the larger Hollywoodland houses (Moorcrest, for example) were considered white elephants. Peg Entwistle’s brother Milt told me that during the 30s Castillo del Lago was on the market for $20,000–which no one had.

  • Glad someone is restoring it. I don’t think I’d ever been in this house but as a little kid I grew up playing with family friends at Wolf’s Lair. I saw its’ deterioration over the years. Hope the new owners of the Lugosi house do at least as good a restoration as the folks who did Wolf’s Lair.

  • Loved seeing this. My Grandparents (Phil and Helen Leslie) owned this house for nearly 30 years – the paneled office downstairs was my granddad’s office, where he wrote radio comedy scripts (remember Fibber McGee and Molly?) and later, television scripts. That magnificent home was the site of many cherished family memories. Glad to hear that it’s in good hands.

    • Thanks for writing, Erin. It’s always nice to hear from someone with ties to the neighborhood! “Fibber McGee and Molly” had a second life overseas long after its run here; I used to listen to it on FEN (the Armed Forces’ Far East Network) in Japan when I was little.

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