Larchmont, a small village in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City on Long Island Sound, is peaceful, leafy and notoriously expensive, with good schools funded by eye-watering property taxes, beautifully maintained parks and lovely beaches on the Sound.
So the story goes, New York’s Larchmont lent its name to L.A.’s charming Larchmont Village neighborhood, a small district that borders Hollywood. Why? Because New York’s Larchmont, largely owing to the groundbreaking director D.W. Griffith, was an early center for filmmaking. The “Birth of a Nation” director, who founded United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin, spent $375,000 in 1919 on an estate in Larchmont, where he also built his own movie studio.
Despite his talent as a director, Griffith was less good as a businessman. His epics were hugely expensive to film, so in 1924 Griffith became a contract director for the Famous Players Corporation, which would become Paramount Pictures, at a salary of $50,000 a year. Griffith followed the money, moved to Hollywood, and his Larchmont estate was sold in 1925 for $485,000. Moviemaking in Larchmont, N.Y., was over but it was just heating up in L.A.’s then newly minted Larchmont Village neighborhood, which lies just south of the Paramount Pictures studio lot.
A spacious, inviting house in the original Larchmont is currently listed at $3.8 million. Sound like a bargain to Californians who reside in some of the state’s pricier zip codes? Keep in mind the owner is also on the hook for more than $56,000 in property taxes every year.
The six-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bathroom, 5,600-square-foot house is set on just over a quarter acre, and tax records show it is owned by Elle magazine writer Rachael Combe and Bank of America vice chairman Orlando Knauss. Built in 1906, the four-level house features gracious wraparound porches, a porte cochere on one side and a brick terrace in back.
On the main level are the living and dining room, both with fireplaces and tall windows. The fireplaces are both faced with what appear to be original William de Morgan tiles, an English Arts and Crafts potter; the living room looks to be red luster animal tiles and the design in the dining room is called BBB, after the manufacturer for which they were designed.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, with an envy-generating fireplace, soapstone counters, and top-level appliances that include a fancy-schmancy Lacanche range. The also enviable butler’s pantry and scullery sport brass counters, extra sinks and another fridge, along with a door to the vegetable garden.
The second floor includes the master suite, with fireplace, dressing room and a gorgeous bath. There are two more bedrooms on this level, along with a bathroom, office, and laundry room. The third floor is given over to kids, with three bedrooms, a couple of baths, and a playroom, along with another office and a library, while the finished lower level includes a mudroom, rec room, an art room, another full bath, and a second laundry room.
The level lawn is fenced in for the pooch but there probably isn’t room for a pool, unless the rather nice raised beds, perfect for growing organic vegetables, are removed. The three-bay garage features bonus storage space on the second level, and up on the roof, there are solar panels to help with the Con-Ed bills. The property is available through Katherine Mcloughlin of Houlihan Lawrence.