June 18, 2012 § 9 Comments
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.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.
April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
In 2009, I wrote about my search for Preston Sturges’s Hollywood house, which I assumed had been torn down in the late 1940s to make room for the 101 Freeway. After reading in Sturges’s memoir that, in lieu of demolition, he had the house cut in 3 pieces and moved to Vista Street, I immediately drove over, found the only house that matched its description, and took this photo:
I hadn’t been back until last week, after Steve Pond of The Wrap contacted me to ask if he could use my “before” photo in an article about the house, which in the interim had been bought and renovated by the actors/contractors Jeremy Renner and Kristoffer Winters. http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/jeremy-renner-his-house-flipping-sideline-it-keeps-me-grounded-25878?page=0,0 I agreed, he linked my piece about the house, and I enjoyed a brief spike in traffic to this site. When I went by to take the “after” picture, I was impressed by the house’s handsome exterior. No longer clad in tired-looking white shingles, it boasts new clapboard, windows and metalwork, and a much nicer color scheme. It probably looks better now than when Sturges lived there, though without period photos there’s no way to be sure.
According to Pond’s article, this is the latest in a long line of houses that Renner and Winters have bought and rehabilitated, but it will be the last for a while, given Renner’s acting commitments.
Meanwhile, over in Windsor Square, the house once lived in by Sturges’s friend Harold Lloyd looks as horrible as it did when I wrote about it in June, 2009. https://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/harold-lloyd-lived-here/ But I’m hoping that when the second-generation owners finally decide to sell, Renner and Winters will have time to work their magic on it.