The area north of Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills was set aside by its founders as the “estate” area and it was in this district that the largest and grandest homes were constructed including their own mammoth estates. Even the relatively smaller houses had bigger parcels of land than the “Flats” below Sunset. It was in this district that Walter G. Tedford, a successful Southern California dentist, and his wife Grace constructed a charming Spanish hacienda style home on a sizeable 30,000 square foot lot at 1004 North Rexford Drive. Completed in 1923, the Tedford hacienda was a fittingly appropriate style as Dr. Tedford was the grandson of California pioneers, the Purringtons, who had arrived in the Golden State back in the 1850’s.
The Tedford hacienda was a family home in every sense of the word having been designed by Walter’s own brother, Clarence Purrington Tedford (1889-1977), an architect and engineer who, along with his partner Birger Elwing, had designed some of the most important landmarks built in Santa Ana and Fullerton back in the 1910’s. Two of their most well-known designs are Santa Ana’s Beaux Arts Rankin Building (1917) @ 117 West 4th Street (which they did with George Preble) and the wonderfully Missionesque Hetebrink Ranch House in Fullerton, which Elwing & Tedford designed for John A. Hetebrink in 1914. While the Hetebrink Ranch itself long disappeared and is now the campus of Fullerton College, miraculously the Hetebrink Ranch House itself not only still survives, it remains in the Hetebrink family 100 years later and may still be seen in all its Mission Spanish glory @ 515 East Chapman Avenue.
In designing a new home for his brother and his family, Clarence P. Tedford showed that in the decade since designing the Hetebrink house his style had become more sophisticated. Although both homes were Spanish, the Tedford hacienda was more evocative of simple farm houses of the hills of Andalusia than those of the California Dons. Set back 50 feet from the street, the Tedford hacienda presents a simple, solid front with little exterior adornment other than a few iron-grilled windows and a beautiful rough-hewn entry door. As typical of the style, the Tedford hacienda is an inward facing house with the central core and its two wings creating a sheltering space intended to be both charming and private. Not nearly as large as some of its neighbors, the Tedford hacienda nonetheless felt like a much bigger space because of the architect’s skillful handling of the layout, from the arcaded entry hall to the high ceilinged living room to the corridor leading down the bedroom wing, which Tedford designed with a high arched ceiling and relatively narrow width that gives the illusion of greater length. All principal rooms opened out onto the wide outdoor terrace, even the kitchen and pantry. Tedford also successfully separated the public and private spaces with the bedroom wing and the service wing as mirror opposites radiating out on either side of the main living room.
Although an almost unknown architect in comparison to some of the great designers of Spanish houses during the same period, Clarence P. Tedford’s charming hacienda was so well received it even attracted the prestigious and snooty New York-based Arts & Decoration, which gave it high praise and a full layout in its November 1925 issue, a rare nod to a West Coast design. Whenever it was given, the praise was usually bestowed upon the design of a much bigger California name such as George Washington Smith, John Byers, Roland E. Coate or Wallace Neff. An honor indeed and one I think was well deserved. I find the hacienda very charming and I love the little details Tedford included such as the brick and stucco living room fireplace, the interesting choice of wrought iron, diamond-paned French doors, the Missionesque arches and that great beehive fireplace out on the terrace.
Somehow this old house has survived through the decades on its original lot. As the “Now” photos will show, it has had some modernizations and is now a bigger house than originally built, but it is still largely intact…So far. In the fall of 2012, 1004 North Rexford came on the market as a “fixer” and it sold in less than two months, going for $5,750,000. A small old house on a large lot in the most exclusive part of Beverly Hills is pretty much a death sentence for the hacienda. Plus, the little-known Clarence P. Tedford is not one of the newly designated Beverly Hills “master” architects whose works they are belatedly trying to preserve. Yet he did an admirable job here. Maybe a miracle will happen and the house will be sensitively restored. In the right hands it would be a real showplace, especially with all that mature landscaping. But…it’s Beverly Hills. Houses like this have targets painted on their roofs.
In the meantime, before the inevitable cyclone fence goes up, please enjoy some “Then and Now” images with the captions from the original Arts & Decoration piece written by pioneering lady architect Gladys Ackerman. The “Now” photos come from its recent listing through Estately.
The walls of this house are hollow tile stuccoed in neutral tone with rough finish. The roof is of all hand-made tiles, different shades of terra-cotta and various sizes. A careful study of this floor plan will greatly interest anyone who is contemplating the building of this type of house , because, not only does the construction give unusual opportunity for ventilation, but the service portion of the house is entirely separate from the sleeping portion, although built under one consecutive roof. These two parts are held apart by the living room, terrace and hall, so that on one side there is a great saving of labor and on the other absolute rest and quiet are secured.
Entrance hall of the Tedford residence; floor covered with terra-cotta hand-made tiles, put together with white joints. The furniture in this room is Spanish with a Spanish wrought iron lighting fixture and a glimpse of a wrought iron grille door through the arch.
Fireplace in the living room is trimmed with brick. The beams are of adzed wood, antique-brown finish. Interesting furniture is an imitation of good Spanish models. Either side of the fireplace are doorways with Spanish grilles.
The furniture in the dining room is all extremely good reproductions of old Spanish, upholstered with leather and carved. This furniture is oak and walnut and made to order by the Marshall Laird Co. The draperies are of velour dyed by hand to a rich cobalt blue. The electric fixtures are after Spanish models in wrought iron.
The patio is surrounded by a wide cloister which has a hand-made tile floor and an outdoor chimney. In the center of the patio is a Spanish well and the planting is tropical and brilliant. In the cloister one has a glimpse of the iron grilled doorways which lead into the living room and, of course, from the sitting room is a beautiful view of the patio.
For a number of more pictures and info about the Tedford hacienda, click here for the Estately listing page.
And here’s another interesting fact about the old Tedford hacienda. It has a Texas cousin! In 1926, Clarence P. Tedford designed a $15,000 hacienda in the Alamo Heights section of San Antonio for prominent wholesale merchant Godcheaux (G.A.C.) Halff @ 301 Patterson Avenue that bears a similarity to the Tedford hacienda with the same general floor plan with two matching wings radiating out on either side of a central core.
Still sited in a lush setting on part of its original 19 acres, the G.A.C. Halff residence is now known as the Cathedral Chapel of Saint John as part of the Bishop Jones Center of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. There is a great set of photos of the Chapel and its lush surroundings posted online by Brad Eubanks that can be found here.