568 North Gower: Bungalow Oasis Nestled in a Hidden Gem of a Neighborhood
In the hopes of seeing a celebrity or five, tourists coming to Los Angeles often flock to thoroughfares like Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Hollywood Boulevard—all perfectly legit mainstays of a fab itinerary. But insiders know that the chances of spotting a celeb in the often-overlooked Larchmont Village area–where this wonderful Colonial Revival bungalow at 568 North Gower is situated–are probably much higher.
In the beginning, there was a farmer from Hawaii, John Gower, who had purchased a considerable amount of land and the city’s first harvesting equipment. Later, many movie studios were built near Gower’s property, giving the farmer more visibility. The street was named after him in 1910.
568 North Gower was built in 1919. It’s in the heart of Hancock Park, just due east of the trendy shops on Larchmont Boulevard, north of Beverly, and south of Melrose in an area specifically known as Larchmont Heights.
The 1,544 square foot, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home sits on just over 5,600 square feet of space, and is flanked by rather large (especially for the neighborhood) front and back yards. Though the home is situated in what many might consider the heart of Los Angeles—near movie studios, Hollywood, and some of the city’s best shopping—its expansive porch recalls the architecture of Southern US—not Southern California—style homes. Sip a cool mint julep and forget that you’re in LA, just for a moment… Or perhaps your day dreaming will take you back to the early days of city’s famed industry.
One of the studios near Gower is the oldest and longest-running movie studio in the United States—Paramount Pictures. Founded in 1912 as the Famous Players Company by Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, the studio evolved to launch the careers of some of Hollywood’s best-known legends, including Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Rudolph Valentino.
Bungalow homes were popular during this time. Many developments, such as the Highland Camrose Bungalow Village were specifically designed to house movie studio employees. 568 North Gower is set is on a gentle hill, above the street. The veritable wall of hedge surrounding the home truly creates an oasis for the lucky person needing a daily respite from all the glam just a stone’s throw away.
Hardwood floors and open floor plan give the home a breezy, spacious flow. French doors allow plenty of natural sunlight to stream, while a fireplace inspires many a cozy night for those brisk fall and winter temperatures. (And by brisk, we mean 65°.)
The family room opens into a spacious dining room that could fit an adults’ and a kids’ table if you’re daring. Built-ins retain the beloved look of Craftsman design and expansive French windows bathe the space in light.
Part of the Arts and Craft’s movement was to simplify the lives of families. For those lazy days when entertaining means popping a bowl of popcorn and watching Jaws for the twentieth time, the family room offers a perfect, comfy escape.
A gourmet kitchen provides even the most discerning chef with a spacious playground for creating. Stainless steel appliances and beautiful tile add a modern touch, while built-ins keep the space loyal to the original design.
Of course the areas around the studios needed to accommodate the new wealth and glamour flooding into the area as well. According to a 1921 Los Angeles Times article, developers Julian La Bonte and Charles Ranson purchased seven lots on Larchmont Boulevard, becoming the first to develop it as a business district.
The Larchmont Village area saw rapid expansion in the early 1920s, and according to the Larchmont Buzz, The Marlborough School was one of the first buildings in the area. It was founded in 1889 by Mary Caswell and is the oldest independent girls’ school in Los Angeles. Today, the exclusive private school for girls is regarded as one of the best schools in the Los Angeles area.
568 North Gower is just a mile north of the Marlborough School. The home’s first owner was a man named George H. Marcher, an employee of the Pacific Gem Company, who purchased the home when it was built in 1919.
According to records, Marcher lived in the home for at least fifteen years. Jazz musician Charles Bagley moved into the home after Marcher. The Online Archive of California states that Bagley was also a lawyer, and was active in the American Federation of Musicians union (he served as Vice President).
Bagley lived during a tumultuous time in LA’s social history, especially with respects to music. The music unions were in the process of desegregating amidst a burgeoning LA music scene, and as a union member of Local 47, he was involved in many of the behind-the-scenes actions of the industry.
Following suit in the realm of LA entertainment, prolific cinematographer Joe Gallagher and his wife Lindsey moved into the home years later. Joe has worked on a variety of TV shows including Law & Order:LA, Deadwood, and more recently, The Goldbergs.
In 2004, the Gallaghers sold 568 North Gower to model Gwynne Van Seenus, a prolific model who has graced dozens of magazine covers.
An entertainer’s dream, the home offers both a gorgeously landscaped backyard and side patio for those summer parties. Breezy yet secluded enough (and set far from Gower Street) for private gatherings.
With the slowly growing glut of cute boutiques, ice cream shops, restaurants, and more that line Larchmont Boulevard and dot its environs, let’s hope that the laid-back, classy vibe of the area remains relatively unknown to the 40 million + that visit LA each year…