Hollywood Blog

Whitley Heights: Built during the decade after World War I

Located southeast of the Hollywood Bowl, Whitley Heights occupies an irregular triangle of lush hilly terrain to the north of Franklin Avenue, east of Highland Avenue and west of Cahuenga Boulevard. The Hill’s population in 1990 census was 2,200m the median age was 35.4 years.

After World War I, H. J. Whitley, a major land developer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wanted to re-create a Mediterranean hillside village and thought the concept was perfectly suited for adjoining parcels of land he had purchased.

Whitley’s vision and enthusiasm were shared by architect Arthur Barnes. Financed by Whitley, Barnes toured the Mediterranean scaping before returning to design a majority of the homes built on “The Hill” between 1918 and 1928, In the late 1940’s and again in the early 60’s, construction and subsequent alterations of the Hollywood Freeway divided the original development, segregating about one-fifth of Whitley Heights, which now lies to the north of the freeway.

Renowned architecture and interiors photographer, Tim Street-Porter, and his writer/interior designer wife, Annie Kelly, live in Villa Vallombrosa. It is a 1920’s masterpiece, perched above Watsonia Terrace in the historic Whitley Heights area of Los Angeles. It is a house that has enchanted movie stars (Greta Garbo), costume designers (Adrian), and Leonard Bernstein spent time there, too. It just could be the most romantic house in Hollywood.

“The Hollywood Freeway took 40 homes from Whitley Heights in the late 40’s, including those of Valentino and Charlie Chaplin.” said the late Brian Moore, the official local historian in an interview shortly before his death in May at age 58, In the early 60’s, demolition for a Hollywood Museum that was never built claimed Bette Davis’ first Hollywood house on Alta Loma Terrace.

The majority of homes in Whitley Heights, built before 1928, include many interior as well as exterior features never seen in Los Angeles before 1920, but copied extensively afterward, including the use of wrought iron, leaded glass windows and tiled roofs.

Los Angeles Times July 12, 1992