You Won't Believe What's Been Done to the Storied Hiram Higgins Mansion
Built in 1902 and featured in scary movies, the famed Hiram Higgins Mansion has been reimagined by the infinitely talented Xorin Balbes
Few things intrigue me more than storied L.A. residences like the Hiram Higgins Mansion, but when you add a stunning restoration/remodel by starachitect designer Xorin Balbes, you have my full and immediate attention and lust.
Once a favorite filming location for eerie films like “Ben,” “Willard,” “The Addams Family,” and a Halloween episode of “Beverly Hills 90210,” the historic home known as the Hiram Higgins Mansion was sold in January 2017 for $3.2 million, according to public record.
It’s since undergone an extensive renovation and has landed back on the market for $8,999,000. The work done on the mansion was completed by award-winning architectural conservator and designer Balbes, who also did the absolutely stunning work on Frank Loyd Wright’s Sowden House.
Balbes made quick work of this storied structure—his awe-inspiring reimagining of this home appears to have been accomplished in a mere nine months.
“Xorin infuses a deep spirituality and a timeless design aesthetic into all that he does,” says listing agent Billy Rose, founder and president of The Agency.
The stately Victorian mansion has a unique history to preserve. It was designed in 1902 by John C. Austin (famous for designing L.A. landmarks like the Griffith Observatory and the Shrine Auditorium), for a wealthy Chicago grain merchant by the name of Hiram Higgins. It was originally located on what was at the time a posh section of Wilshire Boulevard, at Rampart Street.
Higgins only lived in the home for about four years, before he passed away in 1906. At the height of the roaring ’20s, the home’s new owner decided the mansion would be better located several blocks away in Windsor Square. To make the move, he had it cut into three pieces and hauled away, on three trucks, to its current location on Lucerne Boulevard.
Legend has it that the owner threw a party in one of the pieces of the Hiram Higgins Mansion as it was being moved, and the mayor of L.A. attended the combination house warming/house moving party.
But after the move, the Great Depression arrived and the grand old house fell into disrepair. The Los Angeles Conservancy reports that the building was used as a retirement home for nuns, a mission, and an office, among other things, until Perry and Peggy Hirsch bought the historic mansion in 1986. The couple began restoring the place, and in 1988, it was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 403.
Fast forward 30 years, and the Hiram Higgins Mansion has undergone yet another stunning renovation. The dark wood was swapped out for a lighter hue, and the floor plan is now wide open. Even with extensive renovations, the home hasn’t left its history behind.
“Xorin has an incredible ability to reimagine a property, such that it retains the essence of the period character and yet also works for, and feels like, today,” says Rose.
It still has the intricate woodwork, the leaded glass windows, and the elaborate fireplaces. Traditional rooms like a library, an enormous formal living room, a formal dining room, and a billiards room are still intact.
Other rooms have been tastefully modernized, and include a gourmet kitchen with professional-quality appliances, a media lounge, screening room, wine cellar, and a yoga/meditation room.
The main house has five ensuite bathrooms and a master suite with a luxurious bathroom and walk-in closet. There’s also a two-bedroom guesthouse.
In total, there are eight bedrooms and eight full baths, plus two half bathrooms, in 12,147 square feet of living space. A new pool and spa have been installed, and the landscaping has also been refreshed on the almost half-acre lot.
In addition to enjoying a one-of-a-kind restoration of a one-of-a-kind mansion, the new owners will also enjoy significant property tax benefits granted by the Mills Act, a city economic incentive program for historic buildings, as well as a conservation easement qualifying for additional federal tax benefits.
All this history, luxury and tax breaks too? I would SO buy this place if I had a spare $9 million lying around.
Find more info and photos of the fabulous Hiram Higgins Mansion in my feature on Realtor.com.