Inside Paris���s Most Elite Hotel: The Newly Renovated H

The City of Angels has been the site of lavish mansions and palaces since the late 1800s

  • Celebrities built large, detached homes on giant properties amid LA's haphazard approach to development

  • Homes and long-term hotels were the sites of scandalous and over-the-top parties for Hollywood's A-list

  • Properties reflect a range of architectural styles, perhaps because of the eccentric people who lived in them

  • DailyMail.com has compiled some of the Los Angeles mansions that have been destroyed over the years 

  • By Forrest Hanson For Dailymail.com

    Published: 10:48 EST, 4 August 2017 | Updated: 15:30 EST, 4 August 2017

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    Los Angeles is not a city known for its history.

    A small town until the 1880s, the city has emanated from a water basin in a near-desert climate. Emerging less by design than by boom, LA gradually became home to the American, and later the global, film industry. Among its infinite series of hills, canyons and coastline, celebrities built lavish detached mansions.

    Silent film star Marion Davies and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst entertained parties of thousands at their beach house in Santa Monica. The blonde bombshell actress, Jayne Mansfield, built a monument to all things pink on Sunset Boulevard. The palatial home of silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks was dubbed Pickfair. Life Magazine noted that it was ‘a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House…and much more fun.’

    Los Angeles, sometimes derisively considered as the city of smog and superficiality, is and has been home to some of the biggest dreamers and eccentrics in the world.

    But in a transient city looking constantly to the future and hardly grounded in the past, buildings come and go. Cultural and historical monuments die. Some of its grandest mansions have been lost to fires or developers.

    ‘You have to be bigger and better than the last,’ photographer Douglas Keister, 69, said. The architecture specialist considered ‘the ephemeral nature of living in a fantasy land that’s built on artifice.

    ‘It’s all just kind of fanciful…it doesn’t have longevity, because people just have to put their own imprint on it.’

    Beginning in the 1970s, preservationists have successfully lobbied for greater protections in the City of Angels. But the push has not saved everything.

    Below, DailyMail.com has compiled a sampling of the destroyed famous homes of Los Angeles. 

    'Haunted' home of America's sweetheart and its hero: Silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks' estate was demolished by Pia Zadora because of a 'laughing ghost'

    The two grandest silent film stars simply needed to leave their mark on the City of Angels. Mary Pickford was America’s sweetheart; Douglas Fairbanks was its hero. The two were madly in love and, in 1919, they bought a rustic hunting lodge at modern-day 1143 Summit Drive in Beverly Hills. Architect Wallace Neff, who had already designed multiple Mediterranean-style homes throughout the emerging metropolis, advised them to build a similarly styled home. But they insisted on a grand, Regency-style mansion, an English pastoral transplanted to Southern California. 

    Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are pictured together at their Beverly Hills home, dubbed Pickfair by the media. The silent film stars were married from 1920 to 1936

    Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks are pictured together at their Beverly Hills home, dubbed Pickfair by the media. The silent film stars were married from 1920 to 1936

    A Life Magazine write-up noted: 'In the 20s Doug and Mary were the undisputed King and Queen of Hollywood, and Pickfair, staged by 18 servants, was a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House, where the Coolidges lived, and much more fun.' Pickford and Fairbanks once canoed around their swimming pool (pictured)

    A Life Magazine write-up noted: 'In the 20s Doug and Mary were the undisputed King and Queen of Hollywood, and Pickfair, staged by 18 servants, was a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House, where the Coolidges lived, and much more fun.' Pickford and Fairbanks once canoed around their swimming pool (pictured)

    Pictured is a dining room with an ornate chandelier Pictured is a painting of children

    Pictured are some of the lavish interiors of Pickfair. The home was built in English Regency style, as opposed to the Spanish hacienda style prevalent among Southern California mansions at the time

    The home was situated on 12 acres and had landscaped gardens. Parties at the home welcomed celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Helen Keller

    The home was situated on 12 acres and had landscaped gardens. Parties at the home welcomed celebrities from Charlie Chaplin to Helen Keller

    The press dubbed the home Pickfair. Historian Kevin Starr noted in his book, Material Dreams: 'Built in Spanish Revival, Pickfair would have bespoken the highly localized identity of Southern California. Remodeled by Neff in English Regency, Pickfair flatteringly corroborated the general taste of the film-going public for whom the home had become a shrine of English-speaking taste. As if to authenticate the choice by Fairbanks and Pickford of English Regency, Lord and Lady Louis Mountbatten honeymooned at Pickfair in October 1922.’ 

    Pickford and Fairbanks welcomed thousands of A-listers to their home, whose celebrity varied from royalty (The King and Queen of Siam) to actors (their neighbor, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo) to writers (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Helen Keller) to intellectuals (Albert Einstein).

    The press photographed the pair canoeing around their giant swimming pool; Charlie Chaplin swam in it with the couple in rather modest attire. Fairbanks sometimes rode his horse from the home to the Pacific Ocean, seven miles away. The four-story home featured beautiful landscaped gardens dotted on its 12-acre property.

    ‘In the 20s Doug and Mary were the undisputed King and Queen of Hollywood, and Pickfair, staged by 18 servants, was a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House, where the Coolidges lived, and much more fun,’ a 1947 Life article noted. ‘Nobody can be said to have “arrived” in Hollywood until he has been invited to Pickfair.’

    Pictured from left to write are Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin, the legendary comic silent film actor, was a close friend of the couple

    Pictured from left to write are Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin, the legendary comic silent film actor, was a close friend of the couple

    Fairbanks and Pickford's marriage became strained later on. During a 1929 production of a 'talkie' version of the Taming of the Shrew, they fought intensely. They divorced in 1936, and Pickford kept the house

    Fairbanks and Pickford's marriage became strained later on. During a 1929 production of a 'talkie' version of the Taming of the Shrew, they fought intensely. They divorced in 1936, and Pickford kept the house

    Pickford and Fairbanks are pictured standing with an automobile Fairbanks and Pickford are pictured singing together

    Pickford later remarried to actor Buddy Rogers. Fairbanks, meanwhile, died of a heart attack in 1939

    Pickford and Fairbanks were married from 1920 to 1936. They met in 1916, when she was married to another silent film actor and he was married to a cotton entrepreneur’s daughter. They divorced their first loves and began a fairy-tale life together at Pickfair.

    Pickford and Fairbanks achieved enormous success as silent film stars, and were part of the first cohort of celebrities to place their handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Pickford co-founded United Artists, which brought her a gigantic fortune.

    But like most things in Hollywood, their ideal life faded fast.

    Pia Zadora, pictured in 1985, later bought the property along with her husband, Meshlam Riklis. They demolished the historic home and built a Venetian-style palace in its place

    Pia Zadora, pictured in 1985, later bought the property along with her husband, Meshlam Riklis. They demolished the historic home and built a Venetian-style palace in its place

    Fairbanks’s career did not survive the transition to talking motion pictures; indeed, the Oscar-winning film, The Artist, was inspired in part by his career. Pickford was more successful, and even won an Oscar for her role in 1929’s Coquette. That same year, they starred together in a talkie version of ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’ Jeffrey Vance, a Fairbanks biographer, noted: ‘The two willful, larger-than-life personalities working at cross-purposes and conveying their resentment and frustration to each other through blatant one-upmanship and harsh wounds is both the movie and the marital union.’ Four years later, the couple separated after Fairbanks began an affair with Sylvia Ashley, a British socialite. After the Hollywood power couple divorced in 1936, Pickford kept the house. Fairbanks died of a heart attack in 1939.

    Pickford remarried, to the actor Buddy Rogers, and continued to live at the sprawling estate. She later became an alcoholic increasingly confined to her home. After her death in 1979, the home was sold to Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, who maintained the property.

    But in 1988, the home fell into the hands of actress Pia Zadora and her husband, a businessman named Meshulam Riklis who was 30 years her senior. They demolished it to build a new Venetian-style home. At first, Zadora insisted the old home was infested with termites and could not sustain her desired renovations. Years later, she told Celebrity Ghost Stories that the home was destroyed because a laughing ghost terrorized the home.

    ‘If I had a choice, I never would have torn down this old home. I loved this home. It had a history; it had a very important sense about it. You can deal with termites. You can deal with plumbing issues. But you can’t deal with the supernatural,’ she said.

    In the mid-2000s, the property was purchased by businessman Corry Hong for about $17million (about $21million in 2017). 

    Silent movie star's party palace: Media magnate's mistress Marion Davies threw legendary costume parties at her 'beach house' where Joan Crawford dressed as Shirley Temple

    A night spent at one of Marion Davies’s wild parties was likely on the bucket list for much of the Hollywood elite in the 1930s. Davies, a silent film actress, invited hundreds of Southern California’s A-listers to days-long theme parties held at her beachfront palace, at 415 Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.

    Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and even Winston Churchill were among those in attendance. Marlene Dietrich would summer there. At a circus-themed party, which featured a rented carousel, Bette Davis came dressed as a bearded woman. At a child-themed party, Joan Crawford channeled her inner Shirley Temple. The tempestuous affair between actors Rudolph Valentino and Pola Negri began on Davies’s dance floor. Actors David Niven and Errol Flynn rented one of the estate’s cottages and earned their temporary home the nickname ‘Cirrhossis-by-the-Sea’. 

    William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, built an impressive beachfront home in Santa Monica for his mistress, the silent film actress Marion Davies. Pictured is the scene at one of the many parties Davies held

    William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, built an impressive beachfront home in Santa Monica for his mistress, the silent film actress Marion Davies. Pictured is the scene at one of the many parties Davies held

    Hearst and Davies are pictured enjoying a spot of croquet. Actor David Niven recalled of Davies's parties: 'Most lavish of all was the circus party….I don’t remember what Marion wore, but I do remember thinking, in spite of his noble profile, how forlorn and self-conscious [Hearst] looked as the ringmaster'

    Hearst and Davies are pictured enjoying a spot of croquet. Actor David Niven recalled of Davies's parties: 'Most lavish of all was the circus party….I don’t remember what Marion wore, but I do remember thinking, in spite of his noble profile, how forlorn and self-conscious [Hearst] looked as the ringmaster'

    ‘The parties at Ocean House…were strictly Marion, and there with gaiety, generosity and bubbling fun she entertained her multitude of friends,’ Niven noted in his memoir, Bring on the Empty Horses. ‘Most lavish of all was the circus party….I don’t remember what Marion wore, but I do remember thinking, in spite of his noble profile, how forlorn and self-conscious W.R. looked as the ringmaster.’

    W.R. was William Randolph Hearst, the legendary newspaper magnate who pioneered yellow journalism. Born in San Francisco to a millionaire father, he acquired various newspapers across America. He later began to develop extravagant properties, including Hearst Castle on California’s Central Coast, with his considerable wealth. Though he was married to Millicent Willson, Hearst’s true love was Marion Davies, an actress and philanthropist with whom he began an affair in the 1920s. They allegedly had a child together, Patricia Lake. He also bought her St Donat’s Castle, in the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales.

    Davies lived in the 100-room-plus, Georgian-style mansion until 1945, when she sold off the home The gargantuan house on the Pacific Coast Highway's 'Gold Coast' was demolished in 1955. All that remained was a guest house and a pool. Today, the property houses the Annenberg Community Beach House

    Davies lived in the 100-room-plus, Georgian-style mansion until 1945, when she sold off the home. The gargantuan house on the Pacific Coast Highway's 'Gold Coast' was demolished in 1955. All that remained was a guest house and a pool. Today, the property houses the Annenberg Community Beach House

    Rather than keeping the affair a secret, Hearst commissioned architect Julia Morgan to build a lavish oceanfront home along the Pacific Coast Highway’s ‘Gold Coast’. He bought up 15 lots on the beach to create a five-acre estate. Construction began on the more-than-100 room Georgian-style home in 1926. Once complete, it featured three guest houses and two swimming pools, including one that was 110 feet long.

    Inside, the home featured 34 bedrooms, 55 bathrooms and 37 fireplaces. Hearst had a lust for Old World settings such that he transplanted a 15th century English tavern and a Venetian palazzo into his mistress’s manor.

    Davies, who grew up in Brooklyn, New York before moving to Los Angeles, retired from the film industry in 1937 and sold off the mansion in 1945 amid a tax dispute. In 1951, Hearst died at the age of 88. Davies died 10 years later. She was 64.

    The main house was demolished in 1955, after an attempt to turn the home into a luxury hotel and country club proved unsuccessful. One guest house and the pool survived the demolition. It survived as a member’s-only club until 1990, when it was shuttered during a city dispute.

    In 2009, the property formally reopened as the Annenberg Community Beach House, a public pool club open to all. The club’s modern-style main building sits on the foundations of the Davies Beach House.

    From 'plush poverty' to 'Mediterranean movie star baroque': Jayne Mansfield's Pink Palace with a heart-shaped pool built by her Mr Universe husband

    The blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield met her match, the Hungarian Mister Universe, Mickey Hargitay, in 1956. The following year, they were engaged. In 1958, they married and moved into a Spanish-style mansion previously owned by crooner Rudy Vallée. But the home, which was designed by GC McAllister and built in 1929, was done in white stucco. Mansfield wanted something more pink.

    And so she had the 10,000-square-foot home remade in her idealized image, the Pink Palace. Mansfield and Hargitay bought the three-and-a-half acre property at 10010 Sunset Boulevard for $76,000 ($650,000 in 2017). Much of the money used came from Mansfield’s inheritance. She and Hargitay had the home repainted in a light pink with flourishes such as painted cupids and hearts. Quartz grains added to the paint made the home sparkle.

    The blonde bombshell actress, Jayne Mansfield, and the Hungarian-born Mister Universe, Mickey Hargitay, lived in the Pink Palace from 1958. Previously, the home on Sunset Boulevard was owned by Rudy Vallée

    The blonde bombshell actress, Jayne Mansfield, and the Hungarian-born Mister Universe, Mickey Hargitay, lived in the Pink Palace from 1958. Previously, the home on Sunset Boulevard was owned by Rudy Vallée

    Mansfield is pictured combing her hair while sitting in a bubble bath in the pink-carpeted bathroom of the Palace. The couple bought the home for the equivalent of $650,000

    Mansfield is pictured combing her hair while sitting in a bubble bath in the pink-carpeted bathroom of the Palace. The couple bought the home for the equivalent of $650,000

    Pictured through a gated dororway are Mansfield, Hargitay and their son, Miklos. Hargitay recalled: 'Jayne wanted pink, pink, everything pink. She loved pink everything, everything she loved pink. So I said, there’s no problem, we can do anything out of pink'

    Pictured through a gated dororway are Mansfield, Hargitay and their son, Miklos. Hargitay recalled: 'Jayne wanted pink, pink, everything pink. She loved pink everything, everything she loved pink. So I said, there’s no problem, we can do anything out of pink'

    Hargitay built a heart-shaped swimming pool on the property. The pool had two islands and the phrase 'I love you, Jaynie' enshrined in gold

    Hargitay built a heart-shaped swimming pool on the property. The pool had two islands and the phrase 'I love you, Jaynie' enshrined in gold

    ‘Jayne wanted pink, pink, everything pink. She loved pink everything, everything she loved pink. So I said, there’s no problem, we can do anything out of pink,’ Hargitay said in a 1990s documentary about the home. ‘When we bought it, it was at a very trying point of our life because neither one of us were rich at the time, but we were rich in love, we cared for each other.’

    Mansfield enlisted wholesalers to offer free samples of their wares in order to furnish the Pink Palace. The home was demolished in 2002 by a developer

    Mansfield enlisted wholesalers to offer free samples of their wares in order to furnish the Pink Palace. The home was demolished in 2002 by a developer

    Hargitay, also a carpenter, built for the home various fixtures including a fireplace made of petrified wood and a heart-shaped pool with two islands and the phrase ‘I love you, Jaynie’ lettered in gold. To outfit the home with furniture, Mansfield wrote to various wholesalers offering to showcase their wares in her home provided they would supply her with furnishings for free. She wrote that she was living in ‘plush poverty’.

    The home also showcased a pink fountain overflowing with champagne and pink shag carpeting on the floors, walls and ceilings. Critics, reports Architectural Digest, deemed the home ‘Mediterranean Movie Star Baroque’.

    But for Mansfield, it was a dream.

    The pair often invited press to their home to photograph them in their ‘day-to-day activities’. In one interview, Mansfield sports a revealing bikini while Hargitay sports a form-fitting bathing suit. They take turns lifting weights, to the obvious amusement of the reporter. In another photos series, Mansfield is pictured floating in her pool among dozens of hot water bottles made in her likeness.

    The dream home did not sustain the spark of their marriage, and they divorced in 1964. Later, Mansfield hosted guests – and the requisite press – such as the Satanist, Anton LaVey.

    After Mansfield’s sudden death in 1967, celebrities such as Ringo Starr and Engelbert Humperdinck lived in the home. Humperdinck sold the home to a developer and it was demolished in 2002.

    A hotel coated in scandal! The 'Garden of Alla' where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall began their affair and Tallulah Bankhead and Marlene Dietrich skinny-dipped in the pool

    Men and women frolicking naked in the pool. Affairs that began in the heat of the night. Affairs that ended in violent confrontation. Heavy, heavy drinking. And brilliant landscaping that shielded debauched A-list celebrities from the prying eyes of Sunset Boulevard right outside. Alla Nazimova’s Garden of Alla Hotel offered it all.

    The Garden of Alla, a hotel conceived and briefly owned by the Russian-born Alla Nazimova, was a long-term stay hotel for Hollywood's elite

    The Garden of Alla, a hotel conceived and briefly owned by the Russian-born Alla Nazimova, was a long-term stay hotel for Hollywood's elite

    The hotel offered a respite from Sunset Boulevard and was known for its guests' scandalous antics

    The hotel offered a respite from Sunset Boulevard and was known for its guests' scandalous antics

    Nazimova was forced to sell the hotel but still retained a villa. The property then became the Garden of Allah. It was demolished to make way for a bank building in 1959

    Nazimova was forced to sell the hotel but still retained a villa. The property then became the Garden of Allah. It was demolished to make way for a bank building in 1959

    Nazimova was born in Yalta, on the Crimean peninsula, in 1879. She later immigrated to the United States and became a silent film star. Nazimova bought a 1913 Spanish-style estate called Hayvenhurst in 1918 after it was sold by its original developer. She added to the three-acre property 25 villas in 1927 and opened the property as an exclusive long-term hotel, The Garden of Alla.

    The hotel welcomed guests such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogat and Marlene Dietrich. Errol Flynn and David Niven, of ‘Cirrhosis-by-the-sea’ fame, once rented a villa. Fitzgerald wrote himself a famous letter that read: ‘Dear Scott - How are you? Have been meaning to come in and see you. I have [been] living at the Garden of Allah. Yours, Scott Fitzgerald.’ Salacious gossip that made its way out of the property’s strictly guarded confines made the hotel positively infamous.

    The hotel has been deemed the site where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall commenced their affair. It was allegedly the site where his third wife, Mayo Methot, violently attacked the pair after she discovered her husband’s secret.

    Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner met while they were guests at the hotel. They later got married in 1951, before divorcing in 1957.

    The hotel aroused curiosity as the site of poolside lesbian trysts. Nazimova, who was previously married to Sergei Golovin and later took Charles Bryant as a partner, was known to be bisexual and rumors abounded that she and fellow actresses were part of ‘sewing circles,’ a euphemism used at the time for lesbian women. Nazimova is widely believed to have had an affair with Jean Acker, Rudolph Valentino’s wife.

    Meanwhile, actresses Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead were known to have skinny-dipped in the pool, which featured underwater lighting and was created in the shape of the Black Sea to remind Nazimova of her homeland. And reports of poolside orgies, while not confirmed, served to further the Garden’s rather scandalous allure.

    Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner are pictured in a studio portrait in 1953 Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are pictured after having just been married

    Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner (left) met at the Garden. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (right) allegedly began an affair at the hotel. They later married in 1945 and remained so until Bogart's death in 1957

    Two men are pictured lifting a woman who appears to have fallen off a folding deck chair at the last party held at the Garden of Allah

    Two men are pictured lifting a woman who appears to have fallen off a folding deck chair at the last party held at the Garden of Allah

    A security detail had firm instructions to not allow any tourists and gawkers, ensuring complete privacy for the guests’ antics.

    'Nothing interrupted the continual tumult that was life at the Garden of Allah,' wrote columnist Lucius Beebe, who once stayed at the hotel.

    'Now and then, the men in white came with a van and took someone away, or bankruptcy or divorce or even a jail claimed a participant in its strictly unstately saranbands [or dances]. But no one paid any mind.'

    Tallulah Bankhead reportedly swam nude in the hotel's pool

    Tallulah Bankhead reportedly swam nude in the hotel's pool

    The hotel acquired an H at the end of Alla after financial hardship compelled Nazimova to sell it to new owners in 1928. She nonetheless retained a villa at the newly styled Garden of Allah, named after a novel rather than the god, for herself. She lived at the hotel with her partner, the actress Glesca Marshall, until her death in 1945.

    Meanwhile, a new set of celebrities that included Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield came along to party within the confines of the hotel. But by the 1950s, it had seen better days.

    While Douglas Fairbanks was once able to ride over to the hotel on horseback, the cityscape had since become a bit more concrete and car-oriented. And its rat-infested grounds and generally subpar accommodation failed to generate much profit. In 1959, the property was purchased by Bart Lytton of Lytton Savings and Loan. He planned to build a bank branch on the property.

    But first, he allowed one last hurrah for the Garden of Allah. A thousand revelers flocked to the site, some dressed as old movie stars, for the final goodbye. Days later, the Garden of Allah was demolished.

    A disputed legend asserts that Joni Mitchell’s song, Big Yellow Taxi, was in part inspired by the hotel’s demolition.

    The lyrics read: ‘Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone/They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot.’

    Today, Frank Gehry is designing a mixed-use residential and commercial development for the property, at 8150 Sunset Boulevard.

    A dream becomes a nightmare: Frances Marion and Fred Thomson's Enchanted Hill took a dark turn after he stepped on a rusty nail, contracted tetanus and died

    Frances Marion and Fred Thomson were one of Hollywood’s most endearing early couples. She was a screenwriter and former journalist; he was a silent film star known for playing cowboys. They met while he was training for service in World War I and she was travelling with her dear friend, Mary Pickford. He was even bedridden with a war-time injury – a broken leg sustained during a game of football at training camp. But still.

    They married in 1919 and worked with Wallace Neff to design a hilltop Spanish-style mansion with four acres of property on Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills. But the somewhat modest estate grew to encompass around 20 acres, in part to give Thomson’s horses room to graze. It was completed in 1925.

    Hollywood power couple Frances Marion and Fred Thomson had a vision of an Enchanted Hill and commissioned Wallace Neff to build their home, which was completed in 1925

    Hollywood power couple Frances Marion and Fred Thomson had a vision of an Enchanted Hill and commissioned Wallace Neff to build their home, which was completed in 1925

    Fred Thomson was a silent film actor who played cowboys Frances Marion was a story writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    Thomson was a silent film actor who played cowboys. He often appeared in films alongside his horse, Silver King. Marion was a screenwriter who won two Academy Awards. Thomson stepped on a rusty nail while working in the home's stables. He contracted tetanus and died. Marion moved out of the home shortly thereafter. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen demolished the home after he bought it in 1997

    Wallace Neff built many of Hollywood's mansions in the early 1900s. He often pitched Spanish-style mansions that he felt were fitting for the Los Angeles area's Mediterranean climate

    Wallace Neff built many of Hollywood's mansions in the early 1900s. He often pitched Spanish-style mansions that he felt were fitting for the Los Angeles area's Mediterranean climate

    Marion noted in her book, Off with their Heads: ‘In a short while our hill resembled a gigantic wedding cake. Pine trees studded every tier, while on top rose a huge house with a drawing room two stories and a half high, rare tapestries on the walls, an Aeolian pipe organ, and windows overlooking five acres of lawn. Beautifully laid out on the terrace were a tiled barbeque, an aviary, and a hundred-foot swimming pool. Fred and his horses and I had gone Hollywood!’

    Thomson’s horse collection later grew to twelve, including his on-screen partner, Silver King. His love of horses proved to be his tragic undoing.

    While working in the stables one day in 1928, he stepped on a rusty nail. He contracted tetanus from the injury and on Christmas Day that year, he died in his wife’s arms at the age of 38.

    Heartbroken, Marion put the home up for sale within the year. She went on to win two Academy Awards for her screenplays and later turned to plays and novels. Marion died in Los Angeles in 1973 at the age of 84.

    An oil baron purchased the home and it was later bought by inventor Paul Kollsman, who grew the property to 120 acres.

    The home went on the market in the mid-1990s for $40million. In 1997, it was bought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $20million (about $30million in 2017). Allen bulldozed the entire property to make way for a new home.

    ‘A tragedy trimmed in mink': The 1961 Bel Air fire that consumed hundreds of celebrity homes including Zsa Zsa Gabor's and Burt Lancaster's properties 

    Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor is pictured shoveling through the debris of her home after the 1961 Bel-Air fire destroyed it and nearly 500 others

    Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor is pictured shoveling through the debris of her home after the 1961 Bel-Air fire destroyed it and nearly 500 others

    In November 1961, a brush fire roared through the hills of Bel Air, where thousands of celebrities and other notables lived. In what Life magazine deemed ‘A tragedy trimmed in mink,’ nearly 500 homes were destroyed. At least $30million in damages were accrued and one-of-a-kind artifacts such that only the most eccentric celebrities would enjoy were lost forever. Among those who lost their homes were Zsa Zsa Gabor, the actress and socialite, and Burt Lancaster, the actor.

    ‘One lady who fled with a valise stuffed with gloves, later admitted: “I never wear the damned things.” Another, ignoring a library of first editions, took her books of trading stamps. Said Mrs Willard Libby, wife of the noted chemist, “I grabbed by mink coat and my husband’s Nobel Prize and got out,”’ Life Magazine noted. ‘All in all, one reporter noted, it was probably the poshest exodus since the fall of the czars sent the Russian nobles fleeing.’

    Gabor had just returned from New York to find her $400,000 ($3.3m in 2017) home in flames. She said: ‘I shall never live here again.’

    Gabor was born in Budapest, Hungary and was married nine times. At the time of the fire, she had already been married and divorced three times; from Burhan Asaf Belge, a Turkish intellectual; Conrad Hilton, an American hotelier; and George Sanders, an English Actor. She once quipped: ‘I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.’

    And she seemed wholly unbothered by the thought of another fire consuming Bel Air; she bought a 9,000-square-foot mansion in the neighborhood in 1970.

    She sold that home in 2013 but remained in it with her ninth husband, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, until her death in 2016. They struck a deal with the LA-based real estate holding firm that bought the home, which allowed them to continue living there for three more years or until Gabor died.

    Pictured is the fire ravaging the hills of Bel-Air. Life deemed the fire and its subsequent property damage 'a tragedy trimmed in mink'

    Pictured is the fire ravaging the hills of Bel-Air. Life deemed the fire and its subsequent property damage 'a tragedy trimmed in mink'

    Zsa Zsa Gabor had two sisters: Magda and Eva Lancaster starred in the film From Here to Eternity

    Seeing the damage to her home, Gabor said: 'I shall never live here again.' She later bought another home in the neighborhood. Burt Lancaster (right) also lost his home in the fire

    The home that Richard Nixon was renting survived the damage. He is pictured wetting the wood-shingled roof of the home

    The home that Richard Nixon was renting survived the damage. He is pictured wetting the wood-shingled roof of the home

    Burt Lancaster, the Oscar-winning star of From Here to Eternity, was pictured in the Life article rummaging through the remains of his home. Life noted: ‘Luckily he had lent out $200,000 worth of paintings to a museum for an exhibit.’

    Meanwhile, the home Richard Nixon was renting had miraculously survived. He was pictured in the article hosing down the roof of the home.

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    At the time, Nixon’s celebrity was a bit odd. He had just finished his vice presidency under Dwight D Eisenhower and had unsuccessfully run for the presidency against John F Kennedy.

    The Chicago Tribune noted: ‘Many Movie, TV Personalities and Nixon forced to flee as inferno spreads.’

    Nixon went on to serve as president from 1969 to 1974, when he resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

    No one died in the fire.

    Falcon Lair: Cinema's first sex symbol Rudolph Valentino's retreat which was inspired by his unfinished cinematic take on El Cid that later 'became a prison' for Doris Duke

    Rudolph Valentino named his Spanish-style home The Falcon Lair after the unfinished film The Hooded Falcon, in which he played El Cid. He bought it in 1925

    Rudolph Valentino named his Spanish-style home The Falcon Lair after the unfinished film The Hooded Falcon, in which he played El Cid. He bought it in 1925

    Valentino is pictured dancing with Rambova Rambova and Valentino (center and right) are pictured immediately after their wedding in Mexicali, Mexico

    Valentino was to live in the $175,000 ($2.5million in 2017) home with his second wife, Natacha Rambova. But in short order, she divorced him

    Rudolph Valentino, the silent film star who frequently partied at Marion Davies’s beach house, purchased his own grand home in 1925. The Wallace-Neff designed Spanish Colonial home was built in 1924 and was set across eight acres in the steep hills of Benedict Canyon.

    For the Italian-born heartthrob, the home offered a respite from life in the public eye.

    A youthful victim of fame’s superficiality, he once said: ‘Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas on which women paint their dreams.’

    Meanwhile, he clicked less with men, who resented him for not being ‘all-American’. He was, somewhat scandalously, one of the first male film stars to wear make-up. The press compared him unfavorably with the ‘man’s man’, Douglas Fairbanks.

    Valentino bought the $175,000 ($2.5million in 2017) mansion on Bella Drive in Beverly Hills and settled in with his second wife, Natacha Rambova. She divorced him shortly after.

    The home was to be called the Falcon Lair, after the film he and Rambova hoped to make together based on the life of El Cid, the legendary Spanish warrior. The film was to be called The Hooded Falcon. The home’s gate, as of October 2015, is still signposted as the Falcon Lair.

    Pictured is the rear of the Falcon Lair. The home was filled with Valentino's keepsakes. A Los Angeles Times obituary noted that he collected 'ancient swords and firearms, antique furniture, historical armor and first editions of rare books'

    Pictured is the rear of the Falcon Lair. The home was filled with Valentino's keepsakes. A Los Angeles Times obituary noted that he collected 'ancient swords and firearms, antique furniture, historical armor and first editions of rare books'

    Valentino is pictured in a head-and-shoulders photograph in jacket and tie Negri made silent films in Germany before she moved to Hollywood

    Valentino later had an affair with actress Pola Negri (right). He suddenly died in 1926 after falling into a coma. He was only 31. Negri allegedly fainted several times at his funeral

    Valentino kept the home and later began an affair with the Polish-born actress Pola Negri, with whom he had danced at Marion Davies’s beach house.

    In August 1926, he suddenly collapsed while visiting New York City. After being diagnosed with peritonitis, he fell into a coma and died. He was 31 years old. 

    Doris Duke later owned the home, and was allegeldy kept as a virtual prisoner in the home by some of her wait staff in her later years. Duke died in 1993. The main house was demolished in 2005 amid property renovations

    Doris Duke later owned the home, and was allegeldy kept as a virtual prisoner in the home by some of her wait staff in her later years. Duke died in 1993. The main house was demolished in 2005 amid property renovations

    At his funeral, Negri caused a stir by ‘fainting’ multiple times.

    Despite having lived in the Falcon Lair for only a year, the home was stuffed with obscurities and quirky collectibles.

    ‘During his career as a screen star over a period of seven or eight years he spent lavishly for the things which interested him horses, dogs, ancient swords and firearms, antique furniture, historical armor and first editions of rare books,’ a Los Angeles Times obituary noted. ‘Over a period of several years, he had built up around him a reputation as a great lover, a fickle personality with many passing loves and a light-headed dandy.’

    Doris Duke, the socialite and heiress, later acquired the home in the 1950s. She counted among her neighbors Sharon Tate, the actress who was murdered by Charles Manson’s gang in her home. Legend has it that Duke’s wait staff kept her as a virtual prisoner in the home before her death at the age of 80 in 1993.

    The property was renovated beginning in 2003 and the main house was demolished in 2005.

    ‘A faded gold star’: The glamorous hotel where Rudolph Valentino honeymooned with his first wife Jean Acker (though they never consummated the marriage)

    The Hollywood Hotel once played temporary home to celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino and Ethel Barrymore. Valentino honeymooned there with his first wife, Jean Acker. At the modern-day intersection of Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, the property featured 250 guestrooms. Its ballroom was decorated with literal stars painted with the names of celebrities. Its guest ledger, which has since been given over to the Smithsonian, reads like a laundry list of early 1900s A-listers.

    The HJ Whitley-designed property was bought by Almira Hershey, an heiress who lived in Bunker Hill, in 1906. She hired Margaret J Anderson to manage it. In 1912, Anderson left amid disputes with Hersey to manage the Beverly Hills Hotel, which still stands today. The exodus was somewhat dramatic, and caused the immediate one-day closure of the Hollywood Hotel.

    The Hollywood Hotel hosted silent film stars such as Rudolph Valentino in its heyday. The hotel had 250 rooms

    The Hollywood Hotel hosted silent film stars such as Rudolph Valentino in its heyday. The hotel had 250 rooms

    Today, the site of the Hollywood Hotel is occupied by the Hollywood and Highland Center

    Today, the site of the Hollywood Hotel is occupied by the Hollywood and Highland Center

    A San Francisco Chronicle account from the day notes: ‘Mrs Anderson has just completed the $500,000 Beverly Hills Hotel, and this she opened today, and as her lease on the Hollywood was nearing expiration she decided on a coup that should give her most of the guests of that hostelry for the new one. Everybody was called for breakfast at an amazing hour and then informed that the building would be closed from that time until a new lessee should take hold.

    ‘Then the entire force of cooks, servants and employees of all kinds left in a body toward the Beverly Hills, and most of the guests saw the humor of the situation and followed.’

    In 1922, the hotel fell into the hands of George Krom. Soon after, other hotels including the Beverly Hills Hotel eclipsed the Hollywood’s prestige.

    A 1956 Los Angeles Times article set the scene of a girl walking through the old hotel. It read: ‘The girl reached up and touched the star. A faded gold star on the cracked and peeling ceiling of the long unused ballroom of the Hollywood Hotel. She touched it with one finger, then held her breath, stood listening. And from some cobwebby corner, music flooded through the musty room. The broken chandeliers blazed again with light. And ghosts came from the shadows to dance a stately waltz.’

    The hotel was bulldozed in 1956 to make way for a mixed-use development, which itself was demolished in 2001 for the Hollywood and Highland Center.

    Avant-garde home without locks on the bathroom doors because its owner was worried famous guests might try to kill themselves

    Film director Josef von Sternberg commissioned architect Richard Neutra to build him a Modern-style home in the rural San Fernando Valley

    Film director Josef von Sternberg commissioned architect Richard Neutra to build him a Modern-style home in the rural San Fernando Valley

    Von Sternberg did not want locks on the bathroom doors because he was worried guests might commit suicide or try to blackmail him

    Von Sternberg did not want locks on the bathroom doors because he was worried guests might commit suicide or try to blackmail him

    Richard Neutra was a pioneer of a new sort of glamorous architecture for the Mediterranean shores and desert wastelands of Southern California. The Austrian-American’s penchant for angular dimensions and materials such as glass and aluminum placed him firmly in the emerging Modernist movement. His Lovell House, built near present-day Griffith Park between 1927 and 1929, is today a registered historic landmark. But the Von Sternberg House, built for fellow Austrian-American Josef von Sternberg, was demolished before it could be fully appreciated.

    Von Sternberg was a film director known for his collaborations with Marlene Dietrich. He was born in Vienna, Austria as Jonas. Legend has it that the ‘von’ was added to make the names in the end credits sequence for the film By Divine Right match up in a more aesthetically pleasing manner.

    The director wanted a home far from the bustle of Los Angeles, a retreat from city life in which he could appreciate his art collection. He selected a spot in present-day Northridge, a neighborhood about 20 miles from Hollywood. In 1934, he commissioned Neutra to design a striking modern home and art space.

    Its more daring aspects included a reflecting pool on the roof, a patio bounded by a curved wall, an unusually small second floor and a moat.

    One Neutra proposal that did not make the cut were locks on the bathroom doors.

    The home proved too much of a liability during World War II, when astronomical gas prices made driving the Rolls-Royce to and from the rural property an expensive proposition

    The home proved too much of a liability during World War II, when astronomical gas prices made driving the Rolls-Royce to and from the rural property an expensive proposition

    Author Ayn Rand later lived in the home, which was demolished in 1972 to make way for condominiums

    Author Ayn Rand later lived in the home, which was demolished in 1972 to make way for condominiums

    He recounted in his autobiography, Life and Shape: ‘[Von Sternberg] said, “Take out all the locks of the bathroom doors.” Worriedly he added, “It is my experience that there is always somebody in the bathroom threatening to commit suicide and blackmailing you, unless you can get in freely.” In a moment, I adjusted myself to the natural anxiety of a wealthy producer of a world-conquering film.’

    He moved out of the house in 1943, during World War II. His widow, Meri, later told the Los Angeles Times that his reasons for moving included the loss of Japanese servants to internment camps and certain wartime shortages.

    ‘He could not get gas for the Rolls,’ she said.

    Ayn Rand, the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, later lived in the home with her husband, Frank O’Connor. Neutra wondered if he served as inspiration for The Fountainhead’s anti-hero architect, Howard Roark.

    ‘I don’t know where Miss Rand got her political ideas…but it’s obvious she used me as the model for Howard Roark’s sexuality,’ he joked, according to architectural historian Thomas Hines.

    Rand later rented it to Ruth Beebe Hill, an author, and eventually sold it. The home was demolished in 1972 and a condominium development was erected in its place.

    ‘A revelation of artistic beauty': French flower painter Paul De Longpre's mansion in the wilds of Southern California

    In what was then the ‘aristocratic little suburb of Hollywood’ was one of the grandest palaces of turn-of-the-century Los Angeles. The Paul de Longpre Estate, designed in 1901, lay at what is now the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and North Cahuenga Boulevard. Tourists from across the world flocked to the bucolic site.

    The Mission Revival home was designed by Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois for Paul de Longpre, a French flower painter, and his family. De Longpre was born in 1855 in Lyon to a large family. Hardship compelled him to move to Paris at the age of 12. There, he worked long hours painting fans and, by the age of 18, had become nationally known for his artistry. He moved with his wife and daughters to New York City in 1890 and held a highly praised exhibition of flower paintings there in 1896.

    The de Longpre Estate was built for the French flower painter, Paul de Longpre, in what was then the rural village of Hollywood. The home, with its acres of landscaped gardens, became a tourist destination. It was built in 1901

    The de Longpre Estate was built for the French flower painter, Paul de Longpre, in what was then the rural village of Hollywood. The home, with its acres of landscaped gardens, became a tourist destination. It was built in 1901

    A 1904 issue of Overland Monthly noted: 'To the tourist who inquires in Los Angeles what is to be seen outside the city, the invariable answer is: “Go to Hollywood and see the home of Paul de Longpre; it is the most beautiful home in Southern California

    A 1904 issue of Overland Monthly noted: 'To the tourist who inquires in Los Angeles what is to be seen outside the city, the invariable answer is: “Go to Hollywood and see the home of Paul de Longpre; it is the most beautiful home in Southern California"'

    The Overland Monthly article went on: 'The massive structure, with its broad Spanish windows, arabesque arches and columns, and tall, graceful towers, is a revelation of artistic beauty in which simplicity and uniqueness of design are the most impressive features'

    The Overland Monthly article went on: 'The massive structure, with its broad Spanish windows, arabesque arches and columns, and tall, graceful towers, is a revelation of artistic beauty in which simplicity and uniqueness of design are the most impressive features'

    Paul de Longpre died in 1911. The home was demolished in 1927 amid Hollywood's commercial development

    Paul de Longpre died in 1911. The home was demolished in 1927 amid Hollywood's commercial development

    The family moved to Los Angeles in 1899 and became acquainted with Daeida Wilcox Beveridge, the ‘mother of Hollywood’ who was working to develop property in the rural village near Downtown Los Angeles. In exchange for three of his paintings, Wilcox gave him three acres of land. The property was manicured with landscaped flower gardens and the main house held an art gallery of his work that was open to visitors. The home quickly became something of a destination.

    ‘To the tourist who inquires in Los Angeles what is to be seen outside the city, the invariable answer is: “Go to Hollywood and see the home of Paul de Longpre; it is the most beautiful home in Southern California,”’ noted a fawning profile of de Longpre in a 1904 issue of Overland Monthly.

    ‘The massive structure, with its broad Spanish windows, arabesque arches and columns, and tall, graceful towers, is a revelation of artistic beauty in which simplicity and uniqueness of design are the most impressive features.’

    From the home, visitors and guests could see the mountains of the Sierra Madre and the waters of the Pacific Ocean. It featured five smaller homes strewn about the garden including the retreat and the fountain house.

    But after De Longpre died in 1911, the home fell into disrepair. In 1927, it was demolished as Hollywood transformed into the global capital of the film industry. Today, the former site of the home is a busy commercial block in the center of Hollywood.

    The man who 'invented' Los Angeles built a military-inspired home that survived a bombing attempt 

    Harrison Gray Otis was an eccentric Los Angeles dreamer before it was fashionable. Born in rural Ohio in 1837, Otis fought for the Union in the Civil War and coined his own nickname – The General – after a non-combat tour in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. His Los Angeles home, The Bivouac, was designed by John Kremple and was built in 1897. It lay at 2401 Wilshire Boulevard, adjacent to the present-day MacArthur Park.  

    The Bivouac was built by Harrison Gray Otis, a rather eccentric man who fought in the Civil War before later moving to Los Angeles and commandeering the Los Angeles Times 

    The Bivouac was built by Harrison Gray Otis, a rather eccentric man who fought in the Civil War before later moving to Los Angeles and commandeering the Los Angeles Times 

    The Bivouac survived a bombing attempt but was demolished amid neighborhood redevelopment. It is now the site of an elementary school 

    The Bivouac survived a bombing attempt but was demolished amid neighborhood redevelopment. It is now the site of an elementary school 

    A bivouac is a temporary camp generally used by soldiers, but Otis was determined to leave a permanent mark on the nascent City of Angels. His ‘Fortress’ was the headquarters of the Los Angeles Times, which he edited and published.

    Joan Didion noted in the New Yorker: ‘The extent to which Los Angeles was literally invented by the Los Angeles Times and by its owners, Harrison Gray Otis and his descendants in the Chandler family, remains hard for people in less recent parts of the country to fully apprehend.’

    Otis fought to secure a fresh water supply for the burgeoning city and used his paper to espouse his conservative views. He was vehemently anti-union, and in 1910 union sympathizers planted bombs at the Times’s headquarters and his home. The Fortress and 21 of its employees fell, but the bomb at the Bivouac was diffused before it could go off. Later, Otis erected a monument made of the Fortress’s rubble and a surviving bronze eagle statue on his property.

    He donated his home for the establishment of an art school, the Otis College of Art and Design, in 1916. He died the following year.

    The college was later relocated and his home was demolished in 1954. Today, it is the site of an elementary school. 

    The Victorian mansions where a woman lit herself on fire and jumped out of a window and a man kidnapped a baby: Bunker Hill, one of LA's first neighborhoods, and its 'Queen Annes' of the desert

    The Crocker Mansion was the home of Margaret E Crocker It cost the equivalent of $1.1million

    Bunker Hill is today part of Downtown Los Angeles. But it was once home to grand Victorian mansions, such as the Crocker (pictured), which was demolished in 1908

    Bunker Hill was home to ornate Victorian mansions in the city’s early days. But the exponential development of Los Angeles drove the wealthy farther afield because the neighborhood gradually became a part of downtown. One such mansion, the Crocker, lasted a mere 22 years.

    Designed by John Hall and built in 1886, the Crocker Mansion was the home of Margaret E Crocker, the widow of a railroad magnate. It cost $45,000, or about $1.1million in 2017. The home earned infamy as the site of an 1887 kidnapping.

    Crocker’s daughter, Amy, was in an unhappy marriage with Robert Ashe. Relatives were babysitting their young daughter, Alma, at the home when Ashe arrived and took her away. Unsurprisingly, the incident caused the dissolution of their marriage.

    Crocker converted the property into a high-end boarding house in 1891. After Crocker died in 1901, the home survived for seven more years before it was demolished to make way for a concrete building.

    The ornate Bradbury Mansion, meanwhile, was an exercise in eccentric California Queen Anne style. Designed by Samuel and Joseph Newsom in 1886, the home was purchased by Lewis Leonard Bradbury, a gold-mining entrepreneur, in 1887. The home, which had five turrets, stood proudly atop Bunker Hill.

    Pictured is the Bradbury Mansion as a film studio Comedian Harold Lloyd deemed the home 'pneumonia hall'

    The Bradbury Mansion was the home of gold-mining entrepreneur Lewis Leonard Bradbury before it became a film studio. It was demolished in 1929

    After Bradbury’s death in 1892, the home served as a film studio and a boarding house. The comedian Harold Lloyd deemed it ‘pneumonia hall’ for its drafty rooms and corridors. The mansion was torn down in 1929 amid Bunker Hill’s precipitous decline.

    Before his death, Bradbury commissioned the nearby office space called The Bradbury Building. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

    Another Bunker Hill mansion survived the neighborhood’s initial decline in the 1930s. The Queen Anne-styled home known only as the Castle was built at some point in the 1880s. It was briefly owned by a contractor before it became a boarding house in 1902.

    Among its residents was Hazel Harding, who lit herself on fire and jumped from her second-floor room in 1914. She later died from her wounds. Then in 1928, the building’s landlord, Charles Merrifeld, fatally shot himself. Their deaths gave rise to the idea that the castle was haunted.

    The Castle on Bunker Hill became a boarding house soon after it was built. A woman jumped from her second-floor room in 1914 after setting herself in fire, and she later died from her wounds. The building's landlord fatally shot himself in 1928

    The Castle on Bunker Hill became a boarding house soon after it was built. A woman jumped from her second-floor room in 1914 after setting herself in fire, and she later died from her wounds. The building's landlord fatally shot himself in 1928

    The Castle is pictured in a somewhat rundown state while in the background amid the encroachment of downtown and its modern skyscrapers

    The Castle is pictured in a somewhat rundown state while in the background amid the encroachment of downtown and its modern skyscrapers

    The home, along with a smaller Victorian called the Salt Box, was moved to a development called the Heritage Square Museum. After it was moved to the site, a fire of dubious origin destroyed the building

    The home, along with a smaller Victorian called the Salt Box, was moved to a development called the Heritage Square Museum. After it was moved to the site, a fire of dubious origin destroyed the building

    By 1968, the Castle and a smaller home, called the Salt Box, were the only Victorians left in Bunker Hill. It stood decrepit as city commissioners debated what to do with the historic properties, which were set to be demolished.

    ‘If it was just these two buildings it wouldn’t be so disturbing,’ Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects president Carl Maston told the Los Angeles Times at the time. ‘But it's symptomatic of a lack of respect for our past of no one giving a damn about our heritage.’

    The homes were moved to the newly developed Heritage Square Museum, a site for displaced historic structures in Los Angeles.

    But the museum’s infrastructure was not fully in place yet, and teenagers would allegedly break into the homes to hold parties. In 1969, a fire of unknown circumstances consumed both historic structures.

    Mortuary mogul's estate became a decrepit home for squatters before buring down in a fire that claimed two lives

    The McKinley mansion was owned most famously by Maytor McKinley, a mortuary mogul. It later became a rundown home for squatters and transients. Two dead bodies were found in the building after a fire consumed it in 1994

    The McKinley mansion was owned most famously by Maytor McKinley, a mortuary mogul. It later became a rundown home for squatters and transients. Two dead bodies were found in the building after a fire consumed it in 1994

    The McKinley mansion was built as the winter palace for an Ohio millionaire and his family in 1915 in Lafayette Park, a formerly grand neighborhood in present-day Westlake. The 13,000-square foot Italian Renaissance-style mansion was acquired by Maytor McKinley, a mortuary mogul, in 1945. His widow lived in the home into the 1980s.

    The home was due to be torn down to make way for an apartment complex, but was declared a historic-cultural monument to avoid that fate. Later, a real estate developer and his wife bought the home for a symbolic price of $1, with the proviso that they would relocate it to Chatsworth, a neighborhood in the northwestern tip of the San Fernando Valley.

    The developer, Rod Daniels, argued that the home’s historic and cultural significance was on par with the White House and the Alamo.

    Despite the Daniels’s noble intentions, the home remained on its Lafayette Park lot and became a decrepit home for squatters and transients. In 1994, a fire burned the monument down. Inside, two people were found dead.

    A Brit abroad: Englishman built a Tudor-style mansion in the middle of the desert

    Arthur Letts grew up on his family’s estate in Holdenby, England. One of 10 children, Letts was not the firstborn son and therefore was not due to inherit his parents’ wealth. So he moved across the pond and settled in Los Angeles, where he made his fortune as the owner of the Broadway Department Store.

    With his wealth, he purchased a 100-acre hillside plot in present-day Los Feliz in the early 1900s. He built a three-story English Tudor mansion and called it Holmby House, after his native Holdenby.

    The home is pictured in a romantic postcard Slightly less romantically, the home is pictured against a backdrop of cloudy skies

    The Holmby House was built by the English-born Arthur Letts. It sat on 100 acres of property and was named after his native village, Holdenby. The home's name inspired the name of the neighborhood of Holmby Hills

    Letts hoped to recreate an English manor-style home in the emerging metropolis of Southern California

    Letts hoped to recreate an English manor-style home in the emerging metropolis of Southern California

    A Los Angeles Herald Account noted: 'Large sunken gardens. A full acre of every known variety of cacti. Flowers in profusion. The largest coca plumose drive in Southern California.' The home was demolished in the 1920s

    A Los Angeles Herald Account noted: 'Large sunken gardens. A full acre of every known variety of cacti. Flowers in profusion. The largest coca plumose drive in Southern California.' The home was demolished in the 1920s

    As was the case with the Paul de Longpre Estate, its gardens made it a major tourist attraction.

    A Los Angeles Herald account advertised: ‘Large sunken gardens. A full acre of every known variety of cacti. Flowers in profusion. The largest coca plumose drive in Southern California. Grounds open to visitors Thursdays.’

    Letts had further plans to turn the entire hillside area into an affluent, British-inspired neighborhood of manor homes. Street names included Charing Cross Road and Conway Road (after Conwy, Wales). After Letts’ death, his son-in-law, Harold Janss, continued to develop the upscale neighborhood, which today is located adjacent to Westwood and is one of the most expensive parts of Los Angeles.

    One home that did not survive Janss’s rush to develop the area was that of his own father-in-law. The home was demolished in the 1920s to make way for a town square.

    Letts’s son, Arthur Letts Jr, built a Tudor-style mansion for himself on Charing Cross Road. The home later gained notoriety after it was purchased by Hugh Hefner, who turned it into the Playboy Mansion.

    Another one bites the dust: Hubris-courting grocery store magnate built a fire-resistant home that succumbed to wildfire 30 years later

    Hikers can trek to the ruins of the property The home's property sprawled across 100 acres

    Grocery store entrepreneur Fred Roberts tried to build a fireproof home in the hills of Malibu in 1952. The home burned down in a 1982 wildfire. The ruins are now part of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

    The sight of camels and giraffes frolicking among the hills of coastal Malibu would not have been uncommon in the 1950s. Grocery store entrepreneur Fred Roberts and his wife, Florence, commissioned a lavish ranch-style home in 1952. The Paul Williams-designed low-rise home was built on a 100-acre site and was meant to blend into Malibu’s stunning natural beauty. It was also meant to withstand the frequent wildfires that raged across the California landscape and therefore incorporated various fire protection methods.

    Roberts died in 1976. Perhaps fortunately, he did not live to see nature destroy his prized home. In 1982, a wildfire ravaged the property. Six years later, the remains of the site – traces of its landscaped gardens and some walls – were incorporated into Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Today, hikers can trek through the remains.

    'It was not just un-extraordinary, but unusually banal': How architect justified his demolition of Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury's home

    Ray Bradbury’s three-bedroom, three-bath house was not a grandiose mansion by any means. But the science-fiction author left his mark on the 1937 home by writing in its ‘surprisingly spacious basement’. The Fahrenheit 451 writer also drafted his stories in libraries across Los Angeles.

    Bradbury died in 2012, and architect Thom Mayne purchased the home in 2014 for $1.8million. In January 2015, he demolished it.

    Mayne, in his justification for doing so, cited the simplicity of the yellow home at 10265 Cheviot Drive. He said: ‘I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house. It was not just un-extraordinary, but unusually banal.’

    But some preservationists were outraged that the home of such a culturally significant individual could be so easily destroyed.

    Nonetheless, Bradbury’s basement, with its letters and keepsakes, was lovingly relocated to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University.

    Ray Bradbury is pictured in the basement of his Los Angeles home. The science fiction author died in 2012 and architect Thom Mayne acquired the three-bedroom house for $1.8million in 2014. He demolished the home, which caused outrage. He said the home was 'un-extraordinary' and 'unusually banal'

    Ray Bradbury is pictured in the basement of his Los Angeles home. The science fiction author died in 2012 and architect Thom Mayne acquired the three-bedroom house for $1.8million in 2014. He demolished the home, which caused outrage. He said the home was 'un-extraordinary' and 'unusually banal'

    Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4759034/Hollywood-bygone-Inside-Jayne-Mansfield-Rudolph-Valentino.html

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