234 S. Muirfield: Historic Tudor Once Owned By Broadway Stores Pres and LACMA Donor
Perhaps the most iconic street in LA’s elegant Hancock Park neighborhood, Muirfield Road is where this absolutely wonderful Tudor revival is located. Located in a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), and framed against the peaceful backdrop that characterizes this part of town, 234 S. Muirfield is 6,187 square feet and 5 bed/5bath of royal bliss that would make even King Henry VIII himself jelly.
It’s no wonder that Travel + Leisure magazine named Hancock Park one of America’s “Most Beautiful” neighborhoods in 2011. What makes Hancock Park so interesting architecturally is the unexpected amount of English, French, and Mediterranean revival style homes. In 1927, when this home on Muirfield Road was built, architects were largely influenced by European sensibilities and melded those styles with their own interpretations to cater to the creative film industry clientele they served.
Most notable amongst the architects who shaped Hancock Park’s design would likely be Paul Revere Williams. Renown for his thoughtful, clean approach that balanced Hollywood glamour with comfort and taste, his work can be spotted all throughout the city, but especially in Hancock Park. As the first African American architect to join the American Institute of Architects, Williams defied incredible odds—he was told by many not to pursue architecture because of his race yet went on to design thousands of buildings. The Paul Williams Project has documented the breadth of his work in a really comprehensive website at paulwilliamsproject.org, where one can find nearly a dozen of Williams-designed homes located in Hancock Park.
Several homes on McCadden Place, less than a mile away from the property at 234 S. Muirfield, were designed by Williams, and his work was commissioned by the veritable Who’s Who of Los Angeles at the time—businessmen, jewelers, and socialites all made up the roster of his fabulous Hancock Park clientele. The eerie home from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is located at 172 S. McCadden Place, and the Happy Days home is not far from McCadden Place at 535 N. Cahuenga Blvd. And just a couple of miles from 234 S. Muirfield to the northern edge of Hancock Park’s boundary is the Revere-designed English Tudor-inspired home for William Banning, the son of businessman Phineas Banning who founded the Port of Los Angeles.
234 S. Muirfield is in good company. Howard Hughes’ spacious and gorgeous Spanish Colonial home designed by architect Roland Coate is just a few doors down at 211 S. Muirfield. And we covered Nat King Cole’s awful experience with racism while living at 401 S. Muirfield in another blog post.
234 S. Muirfield, like the Howard Hughes estate, is in the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, meaning that it retains some protection from development. Angelino Heights was Los Angeles’ first HPOZ neighborhood, designated in 1983. Designed by architects Arthur Hauns and R.H. Kirk and constructed by builder O.M. Ekman, this lovely English Revival with its signature multi-gabled pitched roofs and Tudor color scheme was created for the family of Harry J. Reidsma, the former president of the U.S. Credit Bureau. He owned the property from 1925-1934 along with his wife Juanita. They had one daughter, Gloria, who graduated from the nearby Marlborough School for Girls in 1943. The Marlborough School, founded in 1889, is the oldest independent school for girls in Southern California and is just a few steps away from 234 S. Muirfield.
Though the home is referred to as the Reidsma residence for historical purposes, it’s one of the home’s later owners who is probably more well known in most Los Angeles circles—Edward W. Carter. Carter and his wife Christine moved into the home in 1946 and together owned it until their divorce in 1960.
Carter was a successful businessman, philanthropist, UCLA grad, and President of the Broadway Department Stores, a chain of stores in Southern California that existed in one format or another from the late 1800s all the way into the 1990s.
By age 40, Carter was a millionaire and began turning to more philanthropic and artistic pursuits. In his obituary, he was quoted as saying, “I was successful enough early enough so that I could choose how I wanted to spend my time,” the businessman told an interviewer in 1971. “I spend about a third of it on nonbusiness activities. This has broadened me and has probably made me a better merchant” (Los Angeles Times).
An avid art collector, Carter helped found the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (one of the galleries is named after him), and also created the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden at UCLA (named after his second wife). Hannah Carter was an Olympic skier and also a dedicated philanthropist and art lover; she died three years after her husband in 2009.
It’s easy to imagine why bigwigs like the Carters would be drawn to the symmetry and the charm of this Tudor home. Under the care of its many thoughtful owners, the residence has maintained much of its original characteristics and integrity. Shrouded in some of the same elm trees and foliage that it was when it was originally constructed in 1927, it is a finely preserved piece of architectural history with exquisite landscaping and ample privacy.
Gorgeous Tudor style windows and vine-enwrapped pergolas add the feel of an English countryside. The expansive backyard area offers plenty of space for garden boxes and fruit trees.
A detached one bedroom guest house located above the four-car garage offers a refreshing splash of sunny, bright modernist contrast to the traditional feel of the home’s interior.
However the traditional interior of the main house is exactly the draw of this lovely home. The wooden staircase and curved ceiling fixtures are classic without being overbearing. The home still maintains a clean, elegant feel throughout.
The expansive living areas are incredibly glamorous in a perfectly understated way. Plenty of French windows and a beautifully embellished ceiling showcase the home’s artisanal restoration. Simple but well-thought out furnishings add a touch of grandeur.
An adjoining den complete with a stunning chandelier, fireplace, and built-in bookshelves provide the right atmosphere for contemplation, reading, or writing that next great American novel…
An incredibly expansive family room in rich blue tones and seen here with bright, contrasting furnishings offers a fun, vibrant place for movie-watching and partying.
A classic dining room with plentiful natural light and Victorian style furnishings opens out onto a back patio.
…or dine al fresco under the climbing vines on this lovely brick patio with some of the home’s original brick steps, landings, and walkways…
A spacious yet cozy kitchen provides the home chef with everything he or she needs, and a butler’s pantry and breakfast nook offer ample places nearby to escape from busy preparations.
But let’s be real…this home is really about the staircase and the embellishments like ornate doorframes and the medieval-inspired detailing in the ceiling.
The master bedroom, though incredibly spacious and luxurious, is also tasteful and refined. But perhaps it is the tremendous walk in closet that is worth talking about here…
The master bathroom is tastefully appointed with gorgeous marble counters, Jack and Jill sinks, a separate shower stall, and ample natural lighting. And of course…a clawfoot tub!
The master bedroom opens out onto a spacious, brick-enclosed patio that overlooks the kidney-shaped pool.
The bedrooms and bathrooms throughout the home offer an array of styles that range from Victorian-inspired to modern.
For those rare occasions when leaving paradise seems like the right thing to do once in a while, it would be easy enough to pull the car out of the four-car garage and hightail it over to old greats like the Ebell over on Wilshire for a show or Providence for a Michelin star meal. Or skip the driving altogether and play a few rounds over at the Wilshire Country Club, take a short walk over to Larchmont Village, or simply sit outside and watch the beautiful people—many of whom are likely A-listers—walk by.