Grand Dames of Los Feliz Listed for $4.2 & $4.7 Million
The Los Feliz area is home to some of Los Angeles’s finest houses of the 1920s. Every so often, one of these architectural grand dames goes on the market. The real estate stars recently aligned and two of these Prohibition-era masterpieces are currently for sale and both have stunning connections to the history of L.A.
The first is located at 4848 Los Feliz Blvd. This charming six-bedroom home was built by architect Arthur R. Kelly for Earle C. Anthony. Anthony was a major player in the birth of Los Angeles’ car culture.
In 1897, at the age of 17, Anthony built a primitive electric car using homemade batteries and a half horsepower motor. That car is now part of the permanent collection of the Petersen Automotive Museum in mid-Wilshire.
In 1915, Anthony began a 43-year career as California’s leading distributor of Packards. His dealership at Hope Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles had the first neon sign in the United States, which still shines on the building—now the Packard Lofts—to this day.
Among some of Anthony’s other notable contributions to Los Angeles were the founding of the L.A. Auto Show, establishment of the AM radio station KFI, service as president of the Hollywood Bowl’s Symphony Under The Stars Foundation and a role in bringing the Dodgers out west.
Another Los Feliz home once owned by Anthony eventually became the Convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That particular property, located on Waverly Drive, has been in the news quite frequently lately due to a prolonged legal battle between the convent’s sisters and singer Katy Perry.
About the home’s architect: while Arthur Kelly may not be one of Southern California’s more famous architects, he was certainly one of its most prolific. It’s said that Kelly designed over 500 buildings in the Los Angeles area.
Some of his more notable local works include the original buildings of Huntington Beach High, the Wilshire Country Club, the campus of Harvard-Westlake School and the William S. Hart Ranch.
However, Kelly’s most famous building is a 1927 Tudor mansion in Holmby Hills designed for Arthur Letts Jr., the heir to the Broadway department store chain. In 1971, that property was bought by Hugh Hefner and transformed into the Playboy Mansion.
The second landmark house currently up for sale is the infamous John Sowden House at 5121 Franklin Ave.
The cavernous Mayan revival mansion was built for painter and photographer Sowden by his friend Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. While Wright built many houses in the Los Angeles area, this is his most famous.
It’s sometimes known as the “Jaws House” because its foreboding façade looks like the wide-open mouth of a great white. The Sowden House is listed in both the National Register of Historic Places and as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
While the house is an architectural marvel, it also has a troubled past.
In 1945, the house was bought by Dr. George Hodel, a doctor to the stars. Hodel only lived in the house for five years and died in 1999, but in 2003 he became infamous.
That year, his son, retired L.A. Police detective Steve Hodel, published a book called Black Dahlia Avenger in which he claimed Dr. Hodel was responsible for the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947.
Short, known as the Black Dahlia, was an aspiring actress whose mutilated and dissected corpse was discovered on a vacant lot near Leimert Park one morning in January 1947. The brutal crime became a media sensation.
In his book, Hodel claims not only that his father murdered Short but that her torture and murder happened in the basement of the Sowden House. He also claimed that the elder Hodel might be responsible for nearly 20 unsolved murders.
The Anthony House is for sale for $4.2-million and its listing is held by Patricia Ruben of Sotheby’s. The Sowden House is available for $4.7-million and Troy Gregory of Douglas Elliman holds the listing.