Arts & Culture

Walkable West Hollywood: Golden Era Architecture

Walk this tour to discover architectural gems in West Hollywood – including the historic former abodes of Bette Davis, the Marx Brothers and Marilyn Monroe.

Stroll through West Hollywood’s architectural golden era with this planned walking tour from the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance.

In the 1920s, West Hollywood was the center of lavish apartment living for captivating Hollywood stars, writers and decked-out-in-diamonds socialites. Architects of the day created ornate masterpieces that still stand tall among a four-block radius. It’s an easy walk between all of these great historically relevant locations!

1. Tara House, 1343 N. Laurel Ave.

Begin your journey at Tara, the historic landmark building named after Tara from Gone with the Wind. Built in 1914 with nickelodeon money (no, not the TV network), owner Elsie Weisman hosted star-studded parties with brilliant thinkers like Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s rumored that Gandhi himself was once a dinner guest. Imagine that dinner table conversation!

Right next door (heading north) is…

2. Villa D’Este, 1355 N. Laurel Ave.

Marvel at the striking Romanesque villa, built and designed in the 1920s by architect brothers Walter and Pierpont Davis, the founding fathers of the LA courtyard. This house was featured in the 1963 film Under the Yum Yum Tree (we haven’t seen that movie either).

Keep strolling north…

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Apartment, 1403 N. Laurel Ave.

Imagine the Great Gatsby writer working on his final book, The Last Tycoon in this very spot. His girlfriend, gossip columnist Sheila Graham, lived on the next street over (N. Hayworth Ave.) where he collapsed and died in her arms on December 21, 1940.

As you reach Sunset Boulevard (The Sunset Strip), turn left and head west. For a sec, you’re not in West Hollywood anymore; our borders are as quirky as the city itself. Approach the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset and take a look to your left to see where famed Schwab’s Drugstore once stood (8000 Sunset).

Continue west and the strip mall you pass is where The Garden of Allah, one of the most famous hotels in Hollywood’s golden era, once stood.

When you reach Havenhurst Drive, you’re back in West Hollywood. Turn left and walk south…

4. Andalusia, 1471 Havenhurst Dr.

Now you’re in Hollywood circa 1920s. Built in 1926, these Spanish Colonial-style apartments were designed by Arthur and Nina Zwebell.

5. The Colonial House, 1416 Havenhurst Dr.

Gaze at these fascinating French Colonial Revival-style apartments, designed by ubiquitous West Hollywood architect Leland Bryant. Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Bette Davis lived here!

6.  “Ship’s Bow” Apartment Building, 1415 Havenhurst Dr.

Edward Fickett, a famous West Hollywood architect from the ’50s and’60s, was known for creating structures with openness, light, functionality and a gentle footprint on the Mid-Century Modern design landscape. This offbeat apartment building looks like a ship’s bow ready to set sail—do you see it?

7. La Ronda, 1400 Havenhurst Dr.

Take a gander at this Spanish Colonial Revival, built in 1928—the Marx brothers lived here.

Continue south to Fountain, turn right going west. As you approach N. Harper Ave., cross into the famed Harper Historic district. First, look across Fountain Ave. on the southwest corner…

8. The Four Gables on the Corner of N. Harper and Fountain, 8250 Fountain Ave.

Built in 1927, this Chateau-esque design is called “The Gables” because of its four pillar-like structures around the building.

Turn right and go north on N. Harper Avenue. The lovely apartment buildings lining this street were all erected in the early 1900s. Halfway up the street, sitting quietly among the apartment buildings, is one of West Hollywood’s oldest residential structures, built in 1914. Can you find it?

9. The Villa Primavera, 1300 N. Harper Ave.

This Spanish Colonial Revival building is part of the Courtyard Thematic District built in 1923.

10. The Romanesque Villas, 1301. N. Harper Ave.

Catch your breath admiring this Spanish Revival building, constructed in 1926. It’s as breathtaking on the inside as it is on the outside (but please don’t try to sneak in). Yes, Marilyn Monroe did live here—she lived in several West Hollywood apartments, actually.

11. El Pasadero, 1330 N. Harper Ave.

This Spanish Colonial Revival-style apartment building built in 1931 proudly shows off the red-clay tile roofs, arched entrances and windows that are so abundant in West Hollywood architecture.

12. The Villa Sevilla, 1338 N. Harper Ave.

Built in 1931, this is a Monterey Revival-style villa with recessed balconies.

13. The Harper House, 1334 N. Harper Ave.

Built in 1929 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

As you turn around and walk back down Harper to Fountain, turn left going east. You’ll see a sign, “Open House.” Check it out!

14. The Patio Del Moro, 8225 Fountain Ave.

Listen to the soothing sounds of the fountain outside this Spanish Colonial Revival built in 1926. Imagine yourself in a quaint Spanish town along the Mediterranean Sea.

Walk up the steps to see a few Spanish-style apartments up close and personal. Recognize anyone from the big (or little) screen? Actors, directors and producers use these apartments while working on movie projects.

15. The La Fontaine, 1285 N. Crescent Heights Blvd.

You’re now standing at the foot of one of West Hollywood’s most iconic apartment buildings, built in the 1930s by architect Leland Bryant. It’s had its share of famous residents, including the uber-talented Bette Midler and funny guy Steve Martin.

Tired yet? You’re in luck – tour’s over.

Want to see more? Check out these other historic West Hollywood houses:

The Schindler House, 835 N. Kings Rd.

If you’re fascinated by architecture history, check out what is considered to be the first ever modern-style house. Found inside is the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, which will take you more in-depth into the history of design.

The Lloyd Wright Studio-Residence, 855 Doheny Dr.

The Lloyd Wright Studio-Residence was designed by noted architect Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, as his personal studio and residence. Learn More

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