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HANCOCK PARK—With the exception of special historical districts in Angelino Heights and West Adams, Los Angeles is nearly devoid of Victorian houses. Luckily, Hancock Park is home to one of L. A.’s rare examples of the architecture style that defined the turn of the last century and it is a house uniquely tied to the history of Los Angeles.
The house at 637 S. Lucerne Blvd. was built in 1902 under the direction of architect John C. Austin for Chicago grain merchant Hiram Higgins.
In a way, Austin was the Frank Gehry of early 20th century L. A., creating structures that became civic icons. His works includes Los Angeles City Hall, the Griffith Observatory, the Hall of Justice and the Shrine Auditorium, among others.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the house’s current owners, Perry and Peggy Hirsch, welcomed Austin’s descendants—led by his granddaughter Jane Spaulding—for a tour.
Spaulding, 82 has visited many of her grandfather’s homes and despite living in Orange County, said she didn’t know about this particular one until very recently.
“I was reading, I think, The Week magazine and they had a feature on homes for sale in California and there was this one pretty Victorian. I looked at the name of the architect and it said John C. Austin!” said Spaulding.
During the tour, Perry Hirsch told the story of the house’s famous 1924 move.
According to Perry Hirsch, the mansion originally sat at the corner of Wilshire and Rampart boulevards but as Wilshire became more commercial, the home’s owner Howard Verbeck moved it to more residential territory.
As it was the Roaring 1920s, Verbeck, the story goes, moved the house in the most delightfully ridiculous way possible.
On the evening of June 28th, 1924, he and his wife hosted a party for 100 friends including then Los Angeles Mayor George E. Cryer and Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News publisher Cornelius Vanderbilt IV.
The evening’s entertainment included dinner and dancing—but no drinks, as it was Prohibition—and then at 11 p.m. guests were invited to step into two rooms: half in the dining room and the other half directed to the kitchen to watch the house be split in two and then and carried by trucks to its present location. A 1924 L. A. Times story about the event carried the headline “House Moves Over Guests.”
Peggy Hirsch, who would only say she is of “retirement age” said that when she first heard the story about the house’s move, after she and her husband purchased it in1986, she had nightmares about the house splitting in half during an earthquake “and my bed bouncing down Wilshire.”
The Hirsches, who had lived in other areas in Los Angeles, bought the nine-bedroom mansion and restored it to its former brilliance after decades of hard times.
The house had started to decline during the Depression and continued to do so as it went through a series of owners whose names have been lost to time.
Over the years the house, which is just off Wilshire Boulevard, has served as a retirement home for nuns, an office building, a boarding house for actors and even the filming location of the 1971 horror movie Willard.
According to Perry Hirsch, “we didn’t realize how much restoration we had to do. Plumbing, electrics. They all needed to be brought to code.”
The Hirsches said they even consulted photos of the house from 1902 to ensure they got the right look for new lighting fixtures.
For their efforts, they received a commendation from the Los Angeles City Council and in 1988 the house was officially recognized as a Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Monument.
When the Hirsches completed their renovations on the house, they said they summoned the spirit of 1924 by throwing a party for 300 friends with a 16-piece band playing in the house’s double parlor. But this time, there would be no splitting of the house in two.
The house has also been used as a set in television and film, including Beverly Hills 90210—the Halloween episode—the Bob Dylan film Masked and Anonymous and episodes of Scandal.
The Hirsches enjoyed 26 years in the house but have since relocated to VenturaCounty and said they hope someone will want to take this architectural delight off their hands.
At $5.88 million, it’s a relatively small price to pay for a beautiful piece of Los Angeles history.
“Cultural Summer Concerts”
Where: 2701 N Sepulveda Blvd Los Angeles
When: Thursday July 23 2015 – Thursday August 27 2015
Tue-Fri 12pm-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Let the Skirball’s eclectic Sunset Concerts transport you around the globe–Thursday nights, this summer. Dedicated to inspiring the diverse populations of greater Los Angeles through innovative music, the nineteenth season of this series once again showcases exceptional global talents, both legendary and emerging.
As always, the six Thursday night concerts are presented free of charge in the Skirball’s spectacular yet intimate central courtyard, where audiences sing, dance, and gather at the foot of the stage to engage with the performers. This season’s line-up features an array of genre-defying music–from Afro-Colombian funk and psychedelic Malian music to imaginative Americana and pan-Middle Eastern grooves.
Reservations are required and start two weeks prior to the Thursday evening of your choice. Call (310) 440-4575. Or pick up grab-and-go light fare, as well as full bar service, at Zeidler’s Cart.
The concert is free, but parking is $10 cash only.
For more information visit the link below
“Saturdays Off the 405”
Where: 1200 Getty Center Dr. Los Angeles
When: Tue-Thu, Sun 10am-5:30pm; Fri and Sat 10am-9pm
One of LA’s most iconic landmarks takes on a new wave of excitement for summer on the Westside.
The Getty is home to architectural and cultural exhibitions that have become a must see place should you live or visit southern California. Fully equipped with beautiful gardens, sculptures, art and breath taking views overlooking Los Angeles, the Getty is sure to leave you speechless.
This one of a kind attraction is taking on a new life this summer. Enjoy free outdoor music and evening views of the city on select Saturdays at the Getty throughout summer. Performances by your soon-to-be favorite bands (the past few years saw shows by Cold Cave, Dum Dum Girls, Lord Huron, Avi Buffalo and Best Coast, just to name a few) are sandwiched between DJ sets to open and close the night. Tip: Avoid the traffic and the crowds and arrive early. You’ll get to visit the exhibits, watch the sunset and snag a seat at the restaurant before the dinner rush.
For more information visit the link below
“Meet me on 3rd and Fairfax”
Where: 6333 W 3rd St
When : Friday July 24 2015 – Friday August 28 2015
Mon-Fri 9am-9pm Mon-Fri, Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm
At the corner of the aforementioned street you’ll find both the Farmers Market and The Grove, two must-see destinations that together form a community hub of sorts, offering an abundance of dining, shopping and entertainment options.
The Farmers Market at the Grove is host to a plethora of fun, family-friendly outdoor events, and its summer music series are some of its best. Take a load off at the end of the work week and stop by the West Patio from 7-9pm to hear live music during or after your shopping trip or dinner al fresco.
For more information visit the link below.