In this monthly column, The Real Deal takes a dive into L.A.’s storied real estate history.
June, 1941 — Beverly Hills estate sold
Seventy-six years ago this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Beverly Hills mansion that would later be home to publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst and actress Marion Davies traded hands for the first time since it was built in the ‘20s. The estate at 1007 N. Beverly Drive was host to three lavish buildings.
“The residence on the property contains six master bedrooms and six baths and four servants’ rooms and baths,” the L.A. Times outlined. “An apartment of six rooms is over a five-car garage. A gate house of bungalow style has three bedrooms and two baths.”
Banker Milton E. Getz hired architect Gordon B. Kaufmann to design the structures, which were reported to have originally cost more than $800,000 to develop. Today known as Beverly House, the property was purchased by an inventor and art collector named Otto Thum, who died just a few years later. The property changed hands once more before Hearst and Davies moved in during the late ‘40s. The estate was last listed for sale about a year ago by its current resident, attorney and investor Leonard M. Ross, for $195 million.
June, 1955 — Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel gets upgraded
A $1 million upgrade to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – including a parking garage and 31 new guest rooms – was completed this month 62 years ago. The Times reported that the project was “but another step in (owner Thomas E.) Hull’s multimillion-dollar parade of progress program, which he started in April 1950.”
The first million-dollar upgrade introduced the hotel’s famous swimming pool and surrounding cabana-style rooms. The second upgrade, aside from a parking garage with the marvel of “continuously spiraled ramps,” featured 31 rooms, “each with a wall of glass opening to individual patios encompassing a central garden court.”
Some of the hotel’s most famous rooms were refurbished, including the Blossom Room, where the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony was held for all of five minutes on May 19, 1929. Architecture and engineering firm Stiles Clements designed and supervised the project.
June, 1971 — Watts Towers are repaired and reinforced
Nearly a decade after being declared a historic-cultural monument by the City of Los Angeles, the iconic Watts Towers underwent their first major repair at a cost of $10,000, the Times reported. Built over a span of 33 years by Simon Rodia, an Italian immigrant and tile mason, the steel and wire-mesh towers were repaired in much the same way they were originally built.
“Workmen are now clambering up the towers carrying buckets of cement and other materials—exactly as Rodia did when he built them,” the paper wrote.
In addition to structural repairs, workers preserved the towers’ eclectic found-object aesthetic by first smashing old soda bottles and ceramics and then pressing the pieces into wet concrete. The work was paid for by the so-called Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, which later passed responsibility for upkeep of the towers on to the city.