FASO Gala 2017

As you all may have heard, FASO’s first annual gala is happening on June 17 at the Raquel Residence, aka the former Mary Pickford Estate! We’d like to share the star-studded history of this famous L.A. home here. For more details on our gala, click here!

The Mary Pickford State in "The Artist"
Training Teacher Edith W. Swarts (left) and Helen Matthewson Laughlin in 1924
Training Teacher Edith W. Swarts (left) and Helen Matthewson Laughlin in 1924

The home has been featured in many popular TV shows, including “Scandal,” “NCIS” and “Nip Tuck.” It can also be seen in blockbuster movies such as “Rocky,” “Taken” and “The Artist,” winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2012. The house has a philanthropic history: after it was designated the 2003 Design House (which raised $750,000 for charity), it was the venue for several fundraisers, including “Dining with the Chefs for the Ayala Foundation” and most recently “Hope After Haiyan,” which aided Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

Architect W.C. Pennell designed the house in 1917 for UCLA Dean of Women Helen Matthewson. The home is a good example of Beaux-Arts residential architecture, which includes a recessed center section flanked by protruding wings. Beaux-Arts, which originated from the neoclassical architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, profoundly impacted American architecture.

For Beaux-Arts, think The Louvre.
For Beaux-Arts, think The Louvre.

The focal point at the center block is the one-story colonnade at the entrance, which features fluted columns and pilasters with stylized ionic capitals. The over-sized projecting cornice and plain parapet are reminiscent of  Vienna Secession architecture, which appeared in California around the time that the house was built. In 1918, Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart” and the highest paid actor at the time, rented the house. In 1919, Pickford left Fremont Place when she married Douglas Fairbanks and moved to Pickfair in Beverly Hills. The home was thereafter rented to Mary Miles Minter, a top child star who was paid $1.3 million per year.

For an idea of what Vienna Secession architecture looks like, take a look at the Secession Building, which was built as a manifesto for the art movement.
For an idea of what Vienna Secession architecture looks like, take a look at the Secession Building, which was built as a manifesto for the art movement.
Mary Pickford, 1916
Mary Pickford, 1916

Helen Matthewson sold the house in 1920 to Robert and Lula Henderson, wealthy Oklahoma oil operators. The house would change hands many more times. The house underwent upgrades in the 1970’s under the ownership of Ragnar Qvale, architect of the Wilshire Country Club. The current owners completely restored the house in 2000, adding 5,000 square feet to the original 8,240 for their family. The home was presented the Historic Landmark Medallion #11 by the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society, and it’s included in many books on significant architecture in Los Angeles, usually called the Pickford Home.

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