Paradise for Sale – A Few Interesting Southland Homes on the Market

For a very long time now I’ve wanted to highlight on the blog some of the historic properties that come up for sale in Southern California, but ADD has long gotten in the way. But since we are in lockdown for the evening here I have a little time before “lights out” so here goes. BTW there is nothing scientific about my choices, just places that caught my eye. Some might not even have any formal history per se but interested me for whatever reason. Emphasis here is of course on older places. If it works out, hopefully this can become a regular or at least semi-regular part of the blog as there are always at least a few great old places for sale out there. So please enjoy our first effort at Paradise for Sale. I can’t wait to read it myself! And you can bet that when appropriate we may have some tart commentary from the “Ladies of Paradise Leased” if they spot any spurious claims of celebrity provenance. But realtors never exaggerate so there should be no problems.

2172 West Live Oak Drive – Los Feliz Terrace

Designed by Horatio W. Bishop A.I.A. for obviously successful mercantile broker Thomas J. Morris and his wife Pearl and completed in January 1934, this beautiful “celebrity owned” Mediterranean villa of 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms is currently on the market for $2,250,000. Built during one of the worst years of the Great Depression, this (originally) 11-room mansion was built for a mere $9,000 showing just how far a dollar could go in those day.. The three story house has incredible views and some great period details including beams and some great stained glass/leaded windows. Something that cheered me was that the bathrooms have not apparently been gutted, but have been “restored with rare custom tile work.”

During the 1920’s, Horatio Bishop was the head of the architectural staff for developer J. Harvey McCarthy and, as such, left his mark down in Carthay (Center) Circle. I haven’t seen a lot of his work, but this house makes me curious for more. The broker for the listing is Stephanie Vitacco at Coldwell Banker. There’s a youtube video too here.

1946 North Vine Street – Longview Tract

This Arts & Crafts style home is one of a number of really interesting and historic old houses up on Vine Street on the hill above Franklin Avenue. This house is actually the first one next to the condo complex. It appears to sit on a very large sloping lot (a third of an acre) that looks like it runs down towards Argyle. Unfortunately, I don’t know the architect yet, but I know it was built back in 1919 and was for a long time the home of former New York Congressman Thomas G. Patten. In Congress, Patten had been one of the earliest backers of the creation of the Federal Reserve system. He left the House of Representatives at the behest of President Wilson in 1917 to take of the duties of Postmaster of New York. Patten remained in this position until 1922 when his former boss as Postmaster General, Will H. Hays, sent him to Hollywood to serve as West Coast chief of the M.P.P.D.A. Patten and his wife Henrietta took up residence on Vine Street in 1922 and remained in their hillside home until Patten’s death in the house here at the age of 77 in 1939. Henrietta stayed in the house until she passed away @ 86 in September 1954.

A great “action” shot from 1918 of Postmaster Patten handing a bundle of mail to airmail pilot Lt. Torrey Webb to deliver on one of the very first regularly scheduled airmail flights in history. (Photo via the Smithsonian’s Flickr photostream. A cool photostream)

Although the home has undergone some inevitable changes through the decades, it looks like it still retains a great deal of vintage character. The listing states in is 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in 2,574 sq. feet. It’s @ $899,000. Under a million for a third of an acre for a charming vintage Craftsman bungalow above Vine!

2270 El Contento Drive –

Although there’s a sale pending on this one, I couldn’t help but include it because I thought it was so cool. Built in 1949, the Streamline cutie reminds me of something the great Robert V. Derrah would have done. The house has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 baths in just under 1,700 sq. ft. of space sited on a nice hillside lot, which gives the house some great views. There are also several terraces including one with a great outdoor fireplace. One thing sorely missing from this house is the little funicular rail that ran from the street up to the house back when it was first built. Why would they have taken that out?

I thought it would be fun to read the original 1950 auction copy for the house:

This house was on the market for nearly a year before somebody snatched it up and it made several price drops from $940,000 to its latest of $715,000. It surprises me because the house is so cute, but it was a “short sale” so therein may lie the problem.  The house is brokered through Century 21 and they are currently accepting backup offers. Maybe there’s still a chance! Break out the martini shaker.

1300 Los Robles Place – Ganesha Hills, Pomona

This 1930 Mediterranean villa has been on and off the market over the last several years and it keeps getting my attention. I have never thought of living in Pomona before, but this house could make me a believer. If I had just seen photos of the house with no location I would have assumed it was in the Hollywood Hills. Of course, if it were, it would be considerably more than the $1,275,000 being asked for it in the Inland Empire. This house pushes nearly all my buttons when it comes to this type of house – beams, tile, wrought ironwork, arches, balconies, terraces, multiple fireplaces, tiled baths, views, pool, land, etc.

Today, the house sits on 2.5 acres, but it appears to have originally been on many more and was a “family compound” of at least two houses. There is a second, slightly smaller, but no less charming “twin” right next door @ 1328 Los Robles Place. A few years ago, both were for sale at once and it would have been great to restore them as a compound. The garden paths and terraces were clearly connected. Pomona architecture and history is not my strong suit, but from what i’ve been able to gather, the houses were built by and for the Armour family, major pioneering figures in Pomona’s history. John Lester Armour designed the houses, with the bigger house for his mother and, I am assuming, the smaller for himself and his family. I personally think he did a pretty good job too!

The house has 4 bedrooms and 5 baths (3 full). At least one, I assume the Master bath, is a wonder to behold, a sunken Artesian (per listing) bath with an art glass window, that would have made De Mille proud. Another fascinating feature is in the garage of all places. It has a vintage automobile turnstile that still works. I have only seen one of these before and that was up at the old Ann Harding/Rudy Vallee estate, since lost. The concept is that one pulls their car into the garage and when it’s time to pull out again the turnstile would have turned the car around and facing outwards. A great concept and probably fun to watch! It also has a great saltwater pool that you could really do laps in.

The listing is brokered by Roxanne “Linda” Campbell of Coldwell Banker Millennium.

There are so many more than this. We will definitely try to do this again.

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6 Responses to Paradise for Sale – A Few Interesting Southland Homes on the Market

  1. Well, these places do need to be wrested from the hands of bad decorators. And I don’t think I’d feel safe putting my baby (if I had one, and especially if it was a boy) in that gold bed in a pink oval room. Maybe these places have been staged, but there must be better stagers in Los Angeles. What about Barker Brothers? The Pomona house might seem a bargain, but there would be the extra expense of installing a helipad so as to be able to ignore its location in…Pomona. Pomona! Even Dora, whose ability to see things both ways has blessed her with a strong sense of egalitarianism, would sniff at Pomona. Although she did always enjoy the two-headed pig at the county fair….

    • Dayna says:

      Thinking of moving to CA. Can you tell me the problem with Pomona?

      • Linda says:

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Ganesha Hills area of Pomona. It is filled with vintage homes set in the beauty of the hillside. It is a hidden treasure so please don’t tell anyone!

  2. janine says:

    re the Armour homes, Lester Armour built the second home for his brother’s family. Lester never married as his mom held his purse strings. . His brother owned the drugstore in town and was the father of the famous writer Richard Armour. I’m reading Richard’s book “Drug Store Days…my youth among the pills and potions” and decided to see if I could find a picture of the grandmother’s house. You are the only site that came up. Thank you, esp for showing the turnstile in the garage.

    Lester went way overbudget building his mom’s house and the turnstile didn’t have a motor, the upstairs rooms were not plastered, and even in the living room wires and bare light bulbs stuck out of the walls as there was no money for light fixtures. He called it his unfinished symphony.

    Lester built many homes for his brother. The one next door came in on time right when the money ran out. Richard said the taxes and upkeep kept them poor…but you’d never know it from these pictures! Thank you!

    • Steve says:

      Janine, this is wonderful information and as a person obsessed with these two houses I can’t thank you enough for the fascinating details. The “thank you” belongs to you. I have long fantasized owning them both and recreating the family compound. They were exceedingly well done and are very rare pieces of Southern California history. Many houses come and go, but I never forget these two and I surely hope they are as loved as they should be. A great legacy irreplaceable today. Thanks again so much. It sounds like you know much more about this amazing family. I’d love to hear more!

  3. Hi Steve,
    I thought you would like to know that the Los Robles house was on the market and my husband and I bought it in September. It has historic site designation and Mills Act tax status. There are enough restoration projects to keep us busy for a long, long time. It is a lovely house. I enjoy your blog.
    Best,
    Kelly

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