Hollywood Inspiration –Whitley Heights

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Whitley Heights as it was in the early days.

Whitley Heights is a gem.  If you love any type of Spanish or Mediterranean Architecture this neighborhood is special.  It is hidden & small.  Unlike Beverly Hills & Bel-Air which were developed a few years later; most of the homes in Whitley Heights can be seen; they are not behind gates or 5’ hedges.  The scale of these homes is more intimate & human and by today’s standards they are quite modest in size.

Whitley heights was developed in 1918 by HJ Whitley.  He instructed architect A.S. Barnes to design it as a Mediterranean style village on a steep hillside.  It overlooks Hollywood and is bordered on the east and north by Cahuenga Boulevard and on the South by Franklin Avenue.  This was the first movie star enclave in Hollywood.  Among the famous residents were Rudolf Valentino, Barbara Stanwyck, W.C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, Judy Garland and many more.  Sadly a third of the homes were lost when the Hollywood Freeway was built in the 1950’s including Rudolf Valentino’s.

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As it is today.

Like a Mediterranean village the streets are steep & winding; the way to see Whitley Heights is to walk it.  Mediterranean Revival & Spanish Revival homes were by far the most popular architectural styles in Whitley Heights.  They often have courtyards and garden walls, archways, arcades with mosaic tiles.   Mediterranean Revival Homes were inspired by rustic seaside villas.  There are several Italian Renaissance Revival homes loosely based upon Italian Palazzos of the sixteenth century,  They are grander and more imposing.  Easily identified by the low pitched clay hipped roof , elaborate windows on the first floor and simpler windows on the second floor.  HJ Whitley’s own Italian Renaissance Revival home sits prominently at the top of the neighborhood.


Take the time to park your car and walk this lovely neighborhood; you will be stepping back in time.

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Silent movie star Barbara LaMarr’s home when she lived there.

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LaMarr’s Spanish Revival home today.

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Villa Vallombrosa a venetian villa; Greta Garbo said it was like a movie set.

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2nd story romantic windows & balconies.

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HG Whitley’s house based upon an Italian Palazzo sits at the top of the hill overlooking Hollywood; this is the back of it.

This Mission home is next to HG Whitley’s.  This is an old photo; today you can just make out the sculptured parapet behind the trees.

Rudolph Valentino’s home sadly torn down for the Hollywood Freeway.