Fresh off her breakup with longtime partner Cara Delevingne, “Pretty Little Liars” alum Ashley Benson has celebrated her independence as only the rich and/or famous can — by purchasing a new mansion in one of L.A.’s most famous and exclusive gated communities, the historic Laughlin Park enclave in Los Feliz.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s probably because this is not Benson’s first round on that particular real estate rodeo. Less than three years ago, she paid $1.8 million for a Spanish-style cottage in Laughlin Park; earlier this year, that house was sold for just over $2 million to Houston-based businessman Jarrod Daniel and his wife Denise.
Benson’s new Laughlin Park home is far more grand than her first. Built in 1930 by acclaimed architect Arthur R. Kelly — whose high-nosed portfolio also includes the Wilshire Country Club, the elite Harvard-Westlake School and Holmby Hills’ Playboy Mansion — the Mediterranean-style grand dame packs in nearly 5,000 square feet of living space, with five bedrooms and five baths. Over the past 90 years, the home has clearly undergone at least one significant renovation, though it’s changed hands only twice during that period.
As the listing notes, the property is perched at the very highest point of the hillside Laughlin Park neighborhood. The benefit to that is majestic wraparound views of the city and surrounding hills from nearly every room in the home; the downside is that the property sits on an odd peninsula of land surrounded on three sides by road. As a consequence, the .32-acre lot has very little yard of its own, save for a brick terrace that surrounds a not-particularly-private swimming pool.
Guests arriving at the house must park on the street and access the front door through a pedestrian gate, where they are greeted by a spacious flagstone courtyard that — rather unusually — directly overlooks the aforementioned pool. Folks who enjoy performing the breaststroke in the buff need not apply, unless they’re looking to give the Amazon delivery driver a show.
Inside, the modernized house offers three brick fireplaces and hardwood floors throughout, plus numerous sets of French doors in the public rooms, all of them opening to various patios and terraces. The redone kitchen has a distinct early-2000s vibe with jade green granite countertops, stainless appliances and a cabinets painted a rather jarring shade of indigo.
Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, all of them with ensuite baths and all with direct access to balconies drinking in views of city lights and/or Griffith Park and its iconic observatory. Somewhere there’s also a stunning mahogany-paneled library with a Pinterest-perfect windowseat, perfect for curling up and drowning a rainy day away while immersed in a good book.
Originally built for an obviously quite wealthy “extended family of world travelers,” per the listing, the house also contains a finished lower level with chauffeur’s quarters, a three-car garage and several service rooms, plus a wine cellar with convenient tasting bar.
Laughlin Park was formally established in 1905 and ranks as one of L.A.’s oldest luxury residential enclaves. Decades of time has not diminished its appeal to the rich and famous; today, a majority of the properties within the gates are owned by international celebrities — enough stars to nearly cover an American flag, as it were. Among them are Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Ellen Pompeo, Kristin Stewart, will.i.am, Emma Roberts, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell.