By Rose Ware
”Listen … the horses are stamping in the stalls – the sea breeze kisses the hilltops – while the birds weave melodies of happiness on the open trail… Your day begins in Hollywoodland, California” excerpt from a Hollywoodland publicity brochure.
Of all the various neighborhoods and burroughs of Los Angeles, Hollywoodland is probably it’s most unique and architecturally intriguing.
The vision of developer S.H. Woodruff and L. A. Times Publisher Harry Chandler, of a quiet hillside enclave of European style castles and estates perched high above Hollywood was realized in 1926 as Hollywoodland .
A fairy tale name for a place where reality as in film is suspended. Ideal for a dream-like town that reveres the imaginative and theatrical these homes are nothing if not theatrical. Styles were restricted to French Normandy, Tudor English, Mediterranean and Spanish. With possibly more turrets per square mile than perhaps Lichenstein, Hollywoodland also boasts many walled and gated estates with mini moats as the home on Rodgerton where Humphrey Bogart lived for two years and Castles with bell towers on Mulholland.and Durand where Bugsy Siegal ran a speakeasy and gambling casino until the Feds closed him down and even a French Normandy estate with a 12 ft. high painted crest of a knight with sword and shield on a wall on Beachwood. European stone masons were brought in to construct the stone walls, clock tower and connecting stairways with granite rock quarried from the nearby hills. With names like Castillo Del Lago and Wolf’s Lair you half expect to see royalty.
It did become a home or hideaway for some of Hollywoods famous and infamous royalty during the 1920’s and 30’s. Or anyone attempting to guard their privacy through walled and gated mansions and a maze of winding streets especially useful during prohibition.
One home on Woodhaven still has the fake bookshelves where behind it is concealed a secret storage space where no doubt a case of your favorite hooch could be stored.It continues to be home to many celebrities and anyone else who enjoys the serenity of the hills, the lakeside views and trails and the varied architectural landscape of Modern and Mediterranean. In later years many post-modern designs were built. Some boldly on stilts and even a geodesic Dome that was later dismantled due to excessive heat and water condensation that dripped on the furniture. Fortunate that it was developed in the 20’s when there were no bulldozers or it might have resembled a housing tract in the Valley rather than the cozy scenic wooded canyon where wildlife still flourishes. A homeowner could build any size home he desired. What mattered was aesthetics not economics. As the brochure stated.. one does not need to have great wealth to enjoy the wonderful environment, scenic beauty and wholesome surroundings.” Peaceful yes, it still lives up to the original brochure’s claim, but of course the glitz of Hollywood nightlife in never far away.