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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.
“Mr. C Beverly Hills’ Perrier-Jouёt Champagne & Oysters Poolside Soirée”
Where: 1224 Beverwil Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90035
When: Thursday, July 30 @ 7:00 PM
Kicking off summer in style, means stepping inside one of Beverly Hills most iconic restaurants that is sure to provide you with the glitz and glam of Beverly Hills.
A Mr. C Beverly Hills’ champagne infused affair might feel like opening the door to a James Bond-style soiree—classy as ever. Cozy up to a glass of bubbly and poolside hor d’oeuvres at Mr. C Beverly Hill’s celebration of Perrier-Jouet Champagne, in partnership with Los Angeles magazine and Pernod Ricard. Join us poolside Thursday July 30th 2015 from 7pm – 9pm. Spoil your taste buds with spicy roasted octopus kebabs, a freshly shucked oyster bar, European cheeses, crab claws, freah crudo and more, while enjoying DJ sets from Bobby French. With fine flowing liquors and extravagant delicacies like these, tickets come at a steep price.
Purchase a pass online at $75 per person and $750 for the VIP package. White summer chic attire is recommended, if attending please use the social media handles below.
@mrcbeverlyhills | #mrcsoiree
For tickets please visit http://www.mrchotels.com/mrcsoiree.php
“Enjoy a Four Course Meal on the High Seas”
Where: Marina Del Rey Fishermans Village Marina, 13755 Fiji Way
When: March 6, April 3-4, May 2, July 31 (Blue Moon), August 1, August 28-29, September 26, December 25
Time: 8:00 PM
Need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life? Marina Del Rey is the home to the world’s largest man-made small craft harbor with 19 marinas and is home to approximately 6,500 boats. A night on the high seas is bound to bring memories that will last a lifetime. Living in California we are privileged with great weather, endless entertainment options, amazing cuisines and infinite opportunities for excitement.
Whatever you’re celebrating, few places are as beautiful as the deck of a Hornblower yacht on the night of full moon over Marina del Rey. Enjoy champagne, an elegant dinner, and plenty of time to stargaze on the outdoor deck with the ones you love. Boarding time: 7:30 PM. Your Cruise Includes: 2 -hour yacht cruise, private table 4-course dinner, boarding glass of champagne Complimentary Soda, Coffee, Tea and Water Wine and cocktails available for purchase DJ entertainment and dancing. Scenic harbor views Starting at $84.95* for Friday and $89.95* for Saturday.
Hornblower Cruises and Events offers a variety of dinner, harbor & wedding cruises along with yacht charters across 7 ports in California and New York
For more information and to purchase a ticket visit http://www.hornblower.com/port/overview/mdr+fullmoonidc