Palatial In Pasadena, $5MAuthor:Philip Ferrato
Hardcore devotees of Modernism may scoff, but the work of architect John Elgin Woolf and his partner, interior decorator Robert Koch are just as much a part of LA’s architectural canon as Neutra and Wright– and arguably, Spanish Revival and Storybook cottages. There must have been something in the air or water (or gin) in the 20th Century that produced so much residential fantasy, although the proximity to Hollywood didn’t hurt, either.
Over four decades, Woolf and Koch produced dozens of luxurious residential projects in what would become known as Hollywood Regency– a transmutation of French chateaux and California casual– for the rich and famous. Their clients ranged from Fanny Brice and Judy Garland to Cary Grant, with a lot of rich people in between, and at its height, their practice ranged from Palm Beach to Montecito. There were signature gestures like 10-ft high front entries, sweeping driveways, plus kitchens and bars adroitly arranged for large scale entertaining. The houses were usually clad in stucco with copper mansard roofs (often folded to look like tents) and bare expanses of exterior wall covered in ivy trained in a diamond pattern. Hedges were neatly trimmed. And here, new to the market, we have the 1958 Fred and Florence Toole House, an outstanding example of Woolf and Koch’s work.
It’s all in the mix: Tongue-and-groove paneling meets marble fireplaces and parquet de Versailles floors and leopard-spotted carpeting. And while the decor may need some freshening up, the bones are intact.
Most of the rooms open to the pool area, which includes a luxurious guest house and cabana.
If the next owner’s curious enough, they can look over the original drawings in the extensive Woolf collection held at the UC Santa Barbara Architecture and Design Archive,
More: Go to the listing for many additional images and a video. An exceptional opportunity to own a piece of Pasadena’s unique design heritage, represented by architecture specialists Ted Clark and Heather Lillard at Compass.
Photo Credit: Shawn Bishop for Compass