It’s in the '20s here

Article sourced from the December 10, 2006 edition of the Los Angeles Times

Perched above the hub of old Hollywood, Outpost Estates is one of the original premier developments in Los Angeles. Touted as the “jewel in the hills” by its developer, the area reflects a glamorous bygone era with luxurious single-family homes set on vast lots with views.


Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, a veteran of the Civil and Spanish-American wars and first publisher of the Los Angeles Times, bought a large, undeveloped plot of hillside land in the late 1800s and referred to the only structure on it — an adobe house — as his “outpost.” It functioned primarily as a clubhouse for his military friends until Otis sold it to Charles E. Toberman, who kept the nickname when developing Outpost Estates.

The roaring 1920s were in full swing when Toberman acquired the hilly area adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl and two blocks north of the newly opened Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was a time when Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford were marquee favorites and flappers were all the rage.

For his Outpost, Toberman envisioned “one of the most exclusive and beautiful residential parks in the world,” and he set out to build a development of luxurious homes to appeal to the city’s emerging elite.

The Hollywoodland sign had gone up in 1923, and Toberman sought to draw similar attention to his neighboring development. His towering “Outpost” sign — the largest of its kind at the time — had red neon letters designed to outshine the competition.

Allowing only grand Spanish-style homes, Toberman oversaw his dream on lots of 10,000-plus square feet. Opulent homes featured courtyards with splashing fountains, elaborate tile work and beamed ceilings. The meticulously planned development also boasted modern utility lines that ran below the concrete roads and sidewalks.

Development continued despite the stock market crash of 1929, with clients from the entertainment and oil industries clamoring for homes.

Seeking fresh ideas, Toberman shifted styles in 1935, building an all-steel home that was designed to be “termite and fireproof, impervious to wear and shrinkage.” Bela Lugosi, of “Dracula” fame, immediately purchased the home.

Today, Outpost Estates covers roughly 1 1/2 square miles and is bordered by Mulholland Drive to the north1, Franklin Canyon to the south, Runyon Canyon Park to the west and Cahuenga Boulevard to the east2.

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times

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