7554 Lolina Lane in the Hollywood Hills. Nichols Canyon, to be more specific. This classic mid-century modern was designed by Edward H. Fickett in 1959. Academy Award winning composer for “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Leigh Harline, once lived in this inspiring home.
This prime property was to be on the market for 10 days before the Sellers would review offers so the property could be fully-exposed. But its entry came with a landslide of anticipation. As soon as we hit the market the Sellers called to report the appearance of cars and lookyloos streaming into their normally sleepy quiet cul-de-sac. The Sellers couldn’t be more grateful for the privacy the front wall provided. We logged over 250 sign-ins through the 1st public open house and Broker’s open.
Upper Nichols Canyon – or as some refer to as Nichols Colony, was a neighborhood developed in the late 1950s originally named “Hollywood Highlands.” Edward Fickett, Southern California’s ‘miracle man,’ designed 7554 Lolina among others for the development. Lolina Lane was the actual street chosen to showcase the model homes for the neighborhood.
Louis A. Scroggins, James K. Kunkle and Associates – self acclaimed ‘Developers of distinctive residential areas’ – boasted the location as unparalleled in greater Los Angeles.
There are 13 homes on the cul de sac all with different styles, but each engaging natural light and large open indoor and outdoor living spaces in their own distinctive way.
Put yourself here in circa 1959, when the homes were being designed and built specifically to the features of the homesite. When you drive through the neighborhood it’s easy identify the various models of the houses. They are positioned like cool vintage objet d’ art – the assigned lots, a gallery.
A typical Fickett design is shaped like an ‘L,’ with the home one wing, the garage the other. A breezeway separates the two, often topped with openwork lattice or slats. The resulting courtyard, often deeply recessed, sometimes functions like an atrium.
Interestingly, in the Declaration of Establishment of Conditions and Restrictions for the development (tract No. 22786) there were provisions that the homes should have not less than 1,800 sq. ft. of living space. I love facts like this.
Like most Fickett homes, there is a large wide entry way, hardwood floors and great wall space for art.
Fickett’s designs used every opportunity to “bring the outside in.”
The house is modern, but never cold and sterile. The sunshine-flooded open floor plan with wood accents connect the interior to the opulent outdoors.The layout is typical of Fickett’s open planned homes, with walls of glass, tall ceilings, interior walls that divide rooms without reaching the ceiling, sliding closet doors, skylights, and storage for days.
The Kitchen is thoroughly modernized, yet remains faithful to the simplicity of Fickett’s original aesthetic.
Three bedrooms, each with their own direct access to a peaceful outdoor retreat.
Both bathrooms remain sleek and minimalistic in keeping with Fickett’s original aesthetic.
Grassy yards, a stone-edged pond, and rectangular pool are the outdoor stars of the 8,929 square foot grounds surrounding this dream home.
Nichols Canyon Colony has been an enclave for celebrities and artists pretty much since it’s inception. Likely because of its serenity, natural to the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. It spans from Hollywood Boulevard, snaking its way north into the hills below Mulholland Drive. Nichols Canyon has a natural, year-round, spring-fed creek a water fall over 100’ high, and several natural and man-made small water falls. Hard to believe you’re still in the city of Los Angeles. Nichols canyon is a favorite road for cyclists and runners. Count on it being attractive to wildlife: coyotes, frogs, deer, raccoons, skunks, and rabbits, as well. Scenic, hawks are ever-present, circling in the sky by day, with star-filled evenings. No wonder so many artists were inspired there.
7554 Lolina Lane was once home to musical composer, Leigh Harline. During his tenure at Disney, Harline wrote the songs for more than 50 animated shorts. Along with Frank Churchill, he composed music for Disney’s first full length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His best-known work, though, is the music for Pinocchio and the famous song, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” He received an Oscar nomination for best music and score for his work on Snow White and two Academy Awards for Pinocchio.
After leaving Disney in 1941, Harline wrote music for both films and television and freelanced with several studios. His film credits include: The Pride of the Yankees (1942); The More the Merrier (1943); Road to Utopia (1946); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953); The True Story of Jesse James (1957); The Enemy Below (1957); The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959); Strange Bedfellows (1965); and many more. He wrote songs for television series such as Wagon Train; Shirley Temple Theater; Daniel Boon; Ben Casey; The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters; and Perry Mason.
British artist, David Hockney was a Hollywood Hills resident near the top of Nichols Canyon. He created an acrylic painting on canvas called Nichols Canyon in 1980. The bright colors depict the winding road and landscape of the Hollywood Hills in the late 1970s. Nichols Canyon is also featured in his painting Mullholland Drive.
Some of Hollywood’s Elite who lived in Nichols Canyon in the 1950s and 60s were: Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Rudy Vallee, Ricky Nelson, Steve McQueen, and Kojak’s Telly Savalas – Who loves ya, baby?
Nichols Canyon was named after John G. Nichols, who served as mayor of Los Angeles between 1852 and 1853 and again from 1856 to 1859. He was a businessman and a builder who lived in the first brick house to be built in Los Angeles, and he was the first mayor to expand the city. In 1851 his son, John Gregg Nichols, was the first Anglo American to be born in the city.
Developers, Louis A. Seroggin and James K. Kunkle and Associates knew they were creating a special place. This cool sales brochure set lofty expectations: “For you are centered in the heart of the city… minutes away from important shopping districts… business areas… yet you enjoy peaceful country life secluded in the hills.”
“Modern engineering and earth-moving techniques” made it possible to develop Nichols Canyon. A price list for the development dated 1957 shows that 46 lots were offered in the range of $9,000 through $15,000, with most properties falling between mid- $10,000 to $14,000.
“each lot has been tailored to make the most of contours and views–and to permit an individuality of the homes site. Home owners are assured of the perpetuation of the value and beauty…”
Indeed, many of the homes on Lolina Lane were first built as models homes for the development. “A select group of builders” and architects were commissioned to design and build homes for Hollywood Highlands. The prolific architect, Edward H. Fickett, who designed 7554 Lolina Lane, was among them.
Edward H. Fickett brought his respected Modernist ideas to the design and construction of tens of thousands of tract homes from San Diego through the San Francisco bay area. His interpretation of the California ranch style, was marked by open floor plans, raised ceilings, partial walls and lots of glass — typically “bringing the outside in,” as the late architect liked to say.
Establishing his architectural firm in Los Angeles in 1950, Fickett created showplace homes in the wealthiest areas of Southern California, including Beverly Hills, San Marino, Malibu and Palm Springs. Notably, Fickett was responsible for the first large-scale tract of all-out contemporary design in the Los Angeles area.”
Fickett’s noteworthy civic designs: Dodger Stadium; Los Angeles Police Academy; Hotel Cabo San Lucas; Los Angeles City Hall tower renovation; and the Port of Los Angeles Passenger and Cargo Terminals.
When Fickett was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1969, he was cited for his “excellence of design, proportion and scale and the use of regional materials, redwood, adobe brick and handmade flooring tiles” and for his “continuity of detail and expression of structural elements.” He was praised at the time of his death by California Governor Gray Davis as “an exceptional architect” who “made many contributions to his community and the people of this great state.”
The Los Angeles Conservancy considers Fickett an important architect whose work should be better known.
It’s always interesting when looking into these properties how much there is to know about this city. Further back than the birth of Hollywood’s Studios, the Cahuenga Pass, on the Hollywood Highlands eastern edge, was the site of two major battles. The Battle of the Cahuenga Pass in 1831, and the Battle of Providencia or Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1845 were both on the San Fernando Valley side near present-day Studio City. Cannonballs are still occasionally found during excavations in the area. A marker along Cahuenga Blvd. notes the historic significance of the Paseo de Cahuenga.
There’s a museum, Campo De Cahuenga, on Lankershim Blvd., on the north end of the pass, that exhibits extensively about these events of the Mexican American War. The “Treaty of Cahuenga” was signed between Lieutenant Colonel John C. Fremont and Genera; Andrés Pico on January 13, 1847 at Campo de Cahuenga, ending hostilities in California between Mexico and the United States.
A little over a century later, Hollywood Highlands in Nichols Canyon broke ground.
Post Card of Cahuenga Pass before the 101 Freeway was built.
James K. Kunkle says
Thank you for the kind words describing our Hollywood Highlands Subdivision of so long ago. Louis Scroggin and I bought the Arthur Letts Boy Scout Camp made our peace with Errol Flynn and moved a lot of dirt. Louis passed away a few years ago, I am sure he would have been as surprised as I was to see our original brochure.
I was just interviewed to be included in a historical book concerning the business experiences of the people of the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valley. I would appreciate your permission to use portions of you article as back ground. I was checking the internet under my name and found your article.
PO Box 1809
Santa Ynez, CA 93460
Dear Mr. Kunkle,
So glad you enjoyed the article. We look forward to writing a feature about some of your other projects and your impact on Los Angeles!
– Legacies of L.A.