From almost any point in Hollywood one only has to look up to spot the property fondly referred to by locals as “Tara”. Like the great estate in Gone with the Wind, this towering example of a Southern Antebellum Colonial sited high atop the hills in the shadow of the Hollywood sign makes you long for a mint julep. Although not of vintage age and no notorious history yet, it is an extraordinary estate with over 10,000 sq ft of living space boasting massive iconic columns, beautiful wrap-around verandas and of course a cozy chapel to atone for your sins.
A little known hillside community, much like its sister neighborhood Hollywoodland, the Hollywood Dell was developed in 1910 after avocado and orange farmers gave up and sold their orchards to real estate developers who primarily filled the neighborhood with similar Mediterranean and European style homes to those found in Hollywoodland. One exception was The Roy Rogers Ranch which comprised of over two acres of land contains stables, a riding ring, and generous guest quarters spacious by Hollywood standards. It stood since the 1920’s until a fire in 2000 burnt the last remaining structures. Today Plans for a MC Mansion are underway.
The Dell, as it was originally known, was named after an active brook that ran from what is now the Lake Hollywood Reservoir to the end of Franklin and the Cahuenga Pass. The Dell Brook, more like a stream now, still exists on a very small scale and goes through a house on Holly and San Marcos that was once owned by actress and Monk star, Brooke Adams.
As with many of these hillside neighborhoods, the privacy afforded by the secluded location appealed greatly to not only to the famous looking to retreat from the public eye, but also to many bootleggers, gamblers, and even a few gangsters that made The Dell their hideout. The looming Mediterranean home straddling the hill on the upper corner near the dam was known as a brothel and speakeasy during Prohibition years. Just a few blocks from the Vine Hills near Franklin are the Lido Apartments, home to the protagonist of The Day of the Locusts, Nathaniel West’s classic tale of destruction and disillusionment in Hollywood.
A four story Mediterranean mini-castle on San Marcos was purported to be Mary Astor’s and the site of her affair with married playwright George S. Kaufman. He was one man Id go over a cliff for… She nearly did! She was brought to trial in the divorce proceedings by Kaufmans estranged wife where letters and a journal dubbed the purple diary uncovered their affair. Every detail was dragged through the press and it almost cost her her career. The castle has since had a laundry list of other famous owners including Marshall Chess, manager of the Rolling Stones. When Charlie Watts was producing his first album he would have a running limo waiting day and night so he could be whisked away to the studio at a moments notice.