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

June 18, 2012 § 9 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.

Wolf’s Lair Makes the New York Times Home Section At Last

April 29, 2011 § 4 Comments

There was a beautiful spread on Moby’s $2 million renovation of Wolf’s Lair in the New York Times yesterday. The castle is not only restored structurally but redecorated in an understated and tasteful way.  I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Preston Sturges and Harold Lloyd: A Tale of Two Houses

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Sturges House Today, Post-Renovation/Hope Anderson Productions

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:

The House in Sept. 2009/Hope Anderson Productions

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.,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. 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.

The Harold Lloyd House in Windsor Square on 4/6/11/Hope Anderson Productions

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