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The San Fernando Valley, newly water enriched, embarked on developing its own cachet in the 1920s. The homes were not as imposing— manageable Cliff May-style ranches and mini Tudor manses—but the aspirations were the same. Colfax Meadows and other neighborhoods lured builders with the promise of a life less common.
The original roof beams, leaded-glass windows, cabinets, and brick fireplace enhance the living room.
The sunroom is now used as a family room.
The front of the house as seen through the branches of a century-old walnut tree.
By day bond trader Steven Jones was submerged in financial matters; by night he came up for air, remodeling whatever place he was living in. In 2010, after a year with the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, he was back in L.A. for good and committed to building and fixing houses. Jones formed Greenwich Home Construction and Remodeling and purchased, as a project, the English country cottage that famed developer Charles E. Toberman built for his daughter. The neighborhood was that rare thing in the Valley: streets without sidewalks and sprawling, rustic lots, many with an aging tree left over from the orchards of the early 1900s. The 1937 house had survived the flood of 1938, when part of Colfax Meadows resident Clark Gable’s yard washed away. Jones was amazed at the thickness of the plaster, the beauty of the leaded-glass windows, and how the pull-down screens still worked perfectly. He restored the soaring beams in the living room and brought in an arborist to care for the 100-year-old walnut trees. He was grateful for the previous owner’s addition: a costly slate roof, the tiles held in place by tiny hooks. No surprise—by the time he’d finished, he’d fallen in love with the house. He doesn’t plan to leave.
The City That Toberman Built
The “Father of Hollywood” was behind the area’s most enduring landmarks
The success of the Egyptian Theatre spurred Sid Grauman to gamble on the massive Chinese.
The El Capitan Theatre was loftily called “Hollywood’s first home of spoken drama.”
SEE AND BE SEEN
Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Louis B. Mayer financed the Roosevelt Hotel.
The Hollywood Bowl was built on the site of a natural amphitheater, with a shell by Lloyd Wright.
Photographs by Dave Lauridsen