Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywoodland’s First House

 

2716 Woodhaven Drive

2716 Woodhaven Drive as shown in a Studebaker promotional brochure, courtesy of Steve Vaught’s Paradise Leased blog.


 

On March 31, 1923, publicists trumpeted the news that a great sub development known as Hollywoodland had begun operation at the top of Beachwood Canyon. Comprised of partners Eli P. Clark, Moses H. Sherman, Harry Chandler, Tracey E. Shoults and S. (Sidney) H. Woodruff, the development comprised approximately one fifth of the land purchased by Clark and Sherman in 1905 from Julia E. Lord. The eastern half of the land had been owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1884 and sold to Lord in 1890. She acquired the western half in 1900 from the federal government. Clark and Sherman purchased the entire tract from her on July 8, 1905, per the December 22, 1968 Los Angeles Times.

Tycoons and brothers-in-law Clark and Sherman, Arizona transplants, virtually cornered the streetcar market in Los Angeles by the early 1890s. The shrewd businessmen purchased large swaths of land adjacent or near their routes to later subdivide into real estate tracts. Originally partnering with Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis, the men formed syndicates to develop such areas as what is now Playa del Rey, West Hollywood, and parts of the western San Fernando Valley like Sherman Oaks.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

 

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2716 Woodhaven Drive via Google Street View.


 

Partnering with Tracey Shoults, a well-respected salesmen/developer in Windsor and Marlborough Square along with his subordinate Woodruff to promote and develop Hollywoodland, Clark and Sherman ensured strong sales with Otis’ heir and son-in-law Harry Chandler, now publisher of the Times. They intended to create an upscale, elegant community nestled in Beachwood Canyon into one known as “one of the most attractive residential sections of the city,” per the April 1, 1923 Times.

Hollywoodland limited architectural styles to English Tudor, French Normandy, Mediterranean, and Spanish, building into and around the hills of Beachwood Canyon. The development contained its own shopping area, a first among real estate tracts, as well as its own stables and bridle trails. Attractive granite stairs throughout the development connected upper and lower streets, allowing easy access to the neighborhood, and a jitney transported homeowners to the front gates to connect with the city bus. Developers employed the granite to construct retaining walls and entrance gates as well.

Developers and local residents began purchasing lots quickly after the opening announcement. A July 8, 1923 story in the Los Angeles Times notes that builder A. B. Crist of 6654 Hollywood Blvd. was nearing completion on the first house in Hollywoodland, la Spanish-Italian residence, located on Westwood Drive. The house would feature unique exterior/landscape items, such as a bridge from an upper balcony to the hillside where a tea room would be erected. A little waterfall adjacent to the tea house would fall gently to the patio below. A twelve by eighteen foot music room would open off the large living room, but rest four feet higher. The home would contain three bedrooms and a bath upstairs, along with kitchen, dining room, maid’s room, and bath.

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2716 Woodhaven Drive in the Los Angeles Times, July 8, 1923.


 

The street name of Westwood Drive would give problems once the Janss Investment Company began widely promoting a new real estate tract west of Beverly Hills. City engineer Lloyd Aldrich suggested to the City Council on July 5, 1939 that Hollywood’s Westwood Drive be changed to Woodhaven Drive in order to alleviate confusion. The City Planning Commission would approve this suggestion, and the house would gain the address 2716 Woodhaven Dr.

It is possible that Hearst newspaper columnist Kenneth C. Beaton (K.C.B.) and his wife commissioned the home as first owners, though no building permit or story reveals that information. The couple is pictured standing in front of the house in the 1925 real estate brochure for the development, as well as in a somewhat similar pose in an ad for Studebakers in a mid-1920s “Touring Topics” section of a Sunday Los Angeles Times rotogravure section.

Nov. 20, 1949, property auction
The home is listed for auction, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20, 1949.


 

Beaton worked as drama editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1917, but by 1918 was the “Ye Towne Gossip” columnist in the New York American. He also wrote amusing songs for the vaudeville stage in the late teens and early 1920s. He became a daily editor for Hearst in the early 1920s and moved to Los Angeles.

In the 1928 Los Angeles Directory, Louis Grommet is listed as butler and Julia Larkin is listed as maid, though no homeowner’s name is listed.The home was put up for auction on Monday, November 21, 1949 by Bedilion’s Real Estate Auctions listed as a four bedroom, three bath residence. The owner would accept half cash. An A. L. Gilks would live there in the 1950s-1960s per the Los Angeles City Directory.

Still standing today, just to the east of the original Hollywoodland real estate office, 2716 Woodhaven Drive reflects the simple, quiet beauty of Hollywoodland and its 1920s homes.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1923, Architecture, Hollywood, Hollywood Heights, Mary Mallory and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywoodland’s First House

  1. Benito says:

    Where have all the rumpus rooms gone? Anyway, good name for a bar…

    Like

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