Live Like Hearst and Davies in Lavish Roaring ’20s Townhouse

One of L.A.'s most iconic landmarks, Wilshire Boulevard's Los Altos apartment complex debuted on the scene back in 1926. Designed by architect Edward Butler Rust for developers Luther T. Mayo and Preston S. Wright, the five-story Spanish Colonial Revival was one of the earliest examples of a co-op building on the West Coast. Evidently the co-op concept was so novel amongst Angelenos, one early advertisement for the building in the Los Angeles Times actually referred readers to an article entitled "Own Your Own Flat" that had appeared in a recent issue of the Saturday Evening Post and "cover[ed] the subject of co-operatively owned apartments in a most thorough and entertaining manner." Interested parties who had not seen the article were invited to write or telephone so the sales office could "gladly mail you a copy with our compliments."

Whether this peculiar pitch resulted in any sales is impossible to say, though it seems rather unlikely. At any rate, once completed, Los Altos was quite well-received, with the LA Times lauding it as having "established a new standard of beauty and dignity in Los Angeles apartment-house construction."

Costing a then-exhorbitant $1 million to build, the elegant complex offered its residents custom-tailored private apartments along with deluxe building amenities such as a ballroom, a beauty salon, restaurant, tennis court, rooftop solarium, maid service, even furnishings if so desired, making it a hit with wealthy East Coasters in need of a piéd-a-terre as well as with members of the movie colony, including Clara Bow, Douglas Fairbanks, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, and Judy Garland.

The two celebrities most closely associated with Los Altos, however, would be newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his longtime paramour, actress Marion Davies. According to National Register of Historic Places documentation, the couple scooped up their swanky Los Altos hideaway, a combination of units 206 and 207, in 1934, then had it remodeled to Davies' specifications. The recipient of an award-winning restoration by the M2A architecture firm, the 3,005-square-foot suite boasts a bonanza of incredible Jazz Age details, including a checkerboard marble foyer floor, coffered plaster ceilings, parquet wood floors, elaborate moldings, mahogany-paneled walls, French doors, and original bathroom tile and fixtures in a variety of vivid hues.

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