Timeless Architecture in Old Hollywood

The key to the iconic homes of Beverly Hills in the 20’s and 30’s was not how large the home was or how many acres it encompassed. Instead, the significant detail was the stunning architecture, provided by some of the top designers in the era that marked a home as a step above the rest. Whether a homeowner was looking for something extravagant or a subtler, classic look, finding the right architect meant everything.

When banker, Robert Rogers, decided to purchase land on the corner of Lexington Road and North Crescent Drive, he knew he wanted to stand out among the young Hollywood homeowners in the area. He wanted an elegant home that mirrored the more conservative lifestyle of him and his wife Josephine. He began looking for an architect who could accurately portray his vision for his new estate and found Robert Farquhar, a well-educated designer who studied at Harvard, MIT and the Ecole de Beaux Arts Academy in Paris.

Robert and Josephine were impressed with Farquhar’s use of Spanish, Italian and French styles of architecture for residential homes and also his work in commercial buildings such as the California Club and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The building of the Rogers estate began in 1926 and ended in 1927 with a total cost of $175,000. The home was built to withstand the devastating earthquakes that often shook California, with its infrastructure built of sturdy steel beams and the exterior sporting a stucco façade, massive stone entryway and tiled roof. The home was exactly what Robert and Josephine had wanted and they were extremely happy with the beautiful home and its surrounding landscape and orchard.

After Josephine’s untimely death in 1931, the home was sold to the infamous Harold McCormick of Chicago, who purchased the estate as a summer home in 1938. McCormick was a divorcee and quite the ladies’ man in his younger days, but at this time in his life he was ready to settle down with his third wife. He hired the original architect, Farquhar, to add an elevator to the main house and to also build new garages and servants’ quarters on the property. Just a few years later, McCormick passed away and the home was sold to Lewis and Dorothy Rosenstiel of Cincinnati, Ohio and then again to one of the most brash and infuriating Hollywood moguls, Harry Cohn.

Harry and his wife Joan were more social and loved to entertain and have parties. They decided to once again hire Farquhar to design a projection room and a bath house so their guests would have the best in comfort and entertaining. When Harry died, Joan decided to stay in the home that she loved on Crescent Drive and remained for another twenty years. While the house had many add-ons, the use of Farquhar for each new addition kept the home looking much the same as the original. The timeless elegance of the home is still present today. The next time you are in the Beverly Hills area, you can drive by and see the home still seated at the corner of Lexington Road and North Crescent Drive.

David Kramer