Somebody Please Save This Glamorous Hollywood Mansion!
Update: Yahoo Real Estate just reported on the final price of this grand old mansion: “The order listed it in September at about $5.5 million, then reduced the price by half a million in November. The property entered contract in early December – and a couple of weeks later, the Christmastime sale closed at $4,250,914.” We’re still trying to find out what the property’s ultimate fate will be.
This house, this gorgeous house! The classic Hollywood mansion is so stunningly beautiful, but at the same time, so haggard and worn. Enter the soaring entry hall illuminated by light from colorful leaded glass windows and an ornate Moorish chandelier, and you think the $5.5 million asking price must be a misprint.
Wander a little further in, however, and you begin to understand. Threadbare carpet, peeling linoleum, haphazardly divided rooms and the feeling of a dowager property past its prime prevails. If it were an aging diva, it would be wearing a silk dressing gown, a turban, running mascara and smeared lipstick.
How could the current owners let it fall into such disrepair, you wonder. In all fairness to them, they actually have a very good excuse.
2600 Vermont is owned by a religious order which has used the property as a sort of missionary way station for the past six decades. Since their mission was to save souls and lives, not luxurious mansions, keeping the place in its original lavish, luxurious condition was not exactly a priority.
The grand ballroom was converted to a utilitarian chapel, but that has recently been stripped of all it’s religious iconography as the property is prepared for sale. Also gone is the statue of the Virgen Mary, which once graced the colorful tile fountain in front of the mansion.
The guest, servant and owner’s wings have mostly been divided up into warrens of odd shaped bedrooms — some with sinks and inexpensive vanities installed in the corner, and all with faded and worn flooring that looks like it hasn’t been replaced since the ‘50’s.
But you can still get a feel for the residence’s original beauty and meticulous design from the intricately carved fireplaces, mouldings, stonework and detailed ceilings, tile and woodwork.
And the fascinating speakeasy and wine cellar that were discreetly designed into the home when it was built during Prohibition, so that inspectors might miss them when exploring the house? Still existing, but fallen into disrepair. The property’s current owners didn’t have much use for these rooms, so they left them alone, for the most part.
Outside, they paved paradise to put up a parking lot: the front and sides of the house are dominated by blacktop, white striped with parking spaces, that can accommodate up to 30 cars — 40, if you have a clever valet, in my estimation. The parking lots are just begging to be pulled up and replaced by a pool and perhaps a sports court.
Some of the mansion’s prior residents explain the glamor. Music magnate and Los Angeles philanthropist Benjamin Platt owned it in its early days, when the neighborhood was one of L.A’s, swankiest–especially the lovely, shaded street of Vermont, which today leads to the Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theater. Incidentally, there’s an entrance on a side street, so owners don’t need to worry about concert traffic hemming them in.
Coincidentally, Platt is the maternal great grandfather of Josh Flagg, one of the stars of “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.” Flagg’s company, Rodeo Realty, is not representing the estate, however. That honor goes to David Solomon of The Agency.
The notorious C.C. Julian also owned the home. In the late 1920’s, the flamboyant oil man threw lavish parties there for the Hollywood elite and the L.A. business barons of the day. He eventually swindled them out of $150 million in one of the nation’s earliest Ponzi schemes. The famous Julian Petroleum Scandal is named after him.
But all that is in the property’s illustrious past. What will its fate be when it sells, which is bound to be soon, even though it’s located east of the 101 in Los Feliz, which is not quite as chic as the ‘B’s’: Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Bel Air.
Among its many existing assets are 14 bedrooms and eight baths in 10,039 square feet of space. Lush hedges and mature foliage hide it from the prying eyes of tourists. It also has elegant courtyards in back which have definite potential.
It would be a real loss if the classic structure were demolished. “2600 Vermont is a piece of Los Angeles history and essentially a very valuable piece of art that needs to be restored to its original quality,” said realtor David Solomon. “I’d hate to see this house torn down and I highly doubt anyone would even consider it.”
He went on to confirm my ideas for the place. “The possibilities, once the place is restored, are endless,” Solomon said. “I could see a celebrity living there, a family, a bachelor or bachelorette, someone who works in the entertainment industry and wants a home production or music studio, a high-end rehab facility, and maybe even a pre-school or boutique hotel/bed & breakfast, if zoning permits.”
My bet is on the upscale rehab facility. Businesses of that nature are highly profitable and in huge demand in Los Angeles, as you can imagine. The speakeasy gets turned into a juice bar, the wine cellar becomes a library, with the racks holding books rather than bottles.
I even called up some contacts in the health care business to see if they might be interested. Everyone who hears about the place says it’s a killer deal. I can’t believe no one has snatched it up already. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on its progress. And if anyone buys this fabulous Hollywood mansion after being introduced to it via this article, the least you can do is take a girl and her husband out to dinner.
(Photos courtesy of The Agency)
For more info and photos, see my piece on Yahoo Real Estate.
Somebody Please Save This Glamorous Hollywood Mansion!