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A Mediterranean Enclave in Los Angeles

Discover a little slice of Europe tucked away on a hillside in Hollywood. By Annie Kelly | Photos by Tim Street-Porter

    “This romantic enclave is not only my home, it is a sanctuary in the wild metropolis that is Los Angeles,” says interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. “A rich, colorful tapestry of inhabitants only adds to its European flavor and historical importance.”

    “This romantic enclave is not only my home, it is a sanctuary in the wild metropolis that is Los Angeles,” says interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. “A rich, colorful tapestry of inhabitants only adds to its European flavor and historical importance.”

    The early Hollywood developer H.J. Whitley commissioned architect A.S. Barnes to design “a Mediterranean hill town” in 1918. Without a shred of modesty, Whitley then named his crown jewel after himself. Mostly finished by 1930, the neighborhood was near all the movie studios and became the celebrity enclave of its time. Rudolph Valentino was an early resident, as were Carole Lombard, Carmen Miranda, and Maurice Chevalier. Neighborliness was encouraged, and a strong village-like sense of community prevails. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and now a local Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, Whitley Heights ironically has more protections than many older places in America.

    Neoclassical Villa

    The original developer of Whitley Heights, H.J. Whitley, built this classical house for himself in the early 1920s. Although not strictly Spanish Colonial in style, like the rest of the neighborhood, it has Mediterranean features and holds a commanding view of Hollywood.

    H.J. Whitley's 1920s neoclassical house in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles

    A Consistent Architecture

    This Spanish Colonial style house has the troweled stucco walls, wood windows, and red tile roof that were mandated during development. These restrictions are still in place in the protected neighborhood.

    Spanish Colonial house in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles

    Mediterranean Hill Village

    A classic Spanish Colonial Revival house follows the slope of the hilly neighborhood, where winding streets and picturesque tiled roofs lured movie stars and film directors. With original hand-troweled stucco walls, this well-kept house is typical of Whitley Heights.

    Red tile roof in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles

    Moderne

    Though consistent in its white stucco and red tile roofs, the neighborhood is host to several house styles. This elegant Streamline Moderne example was built in the 1930s and retains many original details.

    Streamline Moderne house in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles

    Elegant Entry

    The front door of Villa Swanson, currently owned by decorator Martyn Lawrence Bullard, opens onto a small landscaped courtyard. The 1926 Mediterranean-style house, with its large central ornamental window grille, was the home of actress Gloria Swanson and was later rented by writer William Faulkner.

    Villa Swanson in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles

    Courtyard Home

    This enigmatic Spanish Colonial Revival façade belies the substantial size of this home, built in 1926 by MGM art director Harry McAfee. On the second level, an exterior courtyard has a small swimming pool. A two-story round tower is at the rear.

    1926 courtyard house of Harry McAfee in Whitley Heights, Los Angeles
    Published in: Old-House Journal May 2014



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