by Amanda Davis
With all the snow we’ve been getting – and with more on its way – I thought I’d whisk us all away to the palm trees and sunshine of Southern California for this week’s fixer-upper. If there’s one thing that can warm this East Coast girl’s spirits during winter, it’s thinking about incredible old houses in Los Angeles. Yes, for those who are in doubt: old houses and Los Angeles DO go together! This city has some of the most amazing collection of historic buildings I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Take, for example, this Colonial Revival gem at 2218 S Harvard Boulevard in the Adams-Normandie neighborhood. The sale of this beauty is currently pending, but hey – you never know! Just south of the 10 freeway, this 6-bedroom, 4-bath fixer-upper is “uninhabitable” as a residence in its current condition, according to the listing. But, of course, this is LA, so the house stays busy instead as an extra in films and still commands a price tag of $1,500,000. Can’t you just see her as the glamorous starlet she once was? She’s credited as the 1905 Beckett Residence, and is a designated Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM), the City of LA’s term for locally protected landmarks.
The house in better days. Courtesy of Curbed LA.
The honor is well-deserved, even though it’s sad to see Lady Beckett in such a dilapidated state. Don’t you just love those gorgeous wide windows with their decorative muntins? I could get used to that porte cochere and those monumental columns.
I think one of the reasons I fell hard for LA’s old houses when I lived there is that I had no idea most of it existed before I arrived. For starters, the sheer wealth of early 20th century beauties like our Beckett Residence – found in a range of revival styles – is positively jaw dropping.
In addition, in many cases the interiors are remarkably intact. Just look at this thing! The woodwork and grand arch in the entry foyer are something else. I’m eyeing those built-ins in the back, too (not to mention the elegant ceiling!). It also looks like we’re getting a peek of the grand staircase on the right side of the photo.
I love the mix of curving and projecting walls capped with wide ceiling moldings. My penchant for beautiful old built-ins came from my time in LA, and here they are again with those bookshelves. I so wish I could zoom in on that incredible tiled fireplace and decorative wood mantel. On those cool SoCal evenings I could see myself lighting a cozy fire there (yes, it does get just cold enough!).
Simply amazing space. How can I turn down curved windows like that? Something wonderful I noticed about LA is the large number of wood windows that have survived. I’m guessing the mild climate has a lot to do with it. It’s striking how much an old home’s character is changed once its historic windows and doors are removed for modern replacements, so it’s always thrilling to find them still in place.
Bingo! We found my most favorite nook in the house. I can see myself getting a little hand-sewing done on that built-in seat (maybe I’d even sew some comfy cushions to bring it all together). Beautiful columns here, too, aren’t they?
Wow, what a bay window! Based on the floor plan provided with the listing, I’m going to say this is the living room at the front of the house.
This beauty has waited in the wings long enough – it’s time to restore her to the leading lady we all know she is! If the pending sale falls through and you’ve got what it takes, you might be eligible to apply for the City of LA’s Mills Act Program administered through the Department of City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources (OHR). It’s pretty fantastic that LA offers this economic incentive to aid in the restoration and rehabilitation of its designated landmarks.
Ready to roll up your sleeves? Check out the full listing.
AUTHOR AMANDA DAVIS
Amanda is an historic preservationist living in New York City with a particular fondness for fixer-uppers. She can be spotted checking out quirky historic details here, there, and everywhere in her handmade dresses. Every time Amanda sees a cozy room with large windows and beautiful built-ins she can’t help but imagine her very own sewing nook with oldies music playing in the background.