Real estate developer Paul Trousdale left a big thumbprint on residential real estate in Southern California, and his slightly shy of 5,600 square-foot Beverly Hills home can now be had for $31.99 million. The current owner, per tax records, is Ryan Drexler, heir to a substantial vitamins fortune and the CEO of an L.A.-based nutritional supplement company, who purchased the opulently appointed home in 2011 for $13 million.
Designed for Trousdale by architect to the stars, John Elgin Woolf, and built in 1959, the house sits on nearly three-quarters-of-an-acre at the end of a long, tree-lined driveway, part of it shared with Jennifer Aniston’s former home. There are three bedrooms, seven full baths, a climate controlled wine cellar, antique fireplaces and extensive wood paneling. Outside, lush landscaping and a swimming pool give way to panoramic views that sweep from downtown to the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. Trousdale lived in the house for more than forty years, so this house is certifiably pedigreed.
Born on a farm in Tennessee, Trousdale dropped out of college, traveled abroad, and somehow wound up in San Pedro. According to his Wikipedia biography, he “started out selling gum and transitioned to real estate shortly after.” (All I can say about that is, “Wow!”) In 1946, he founded the Trousdale Construction Company and he went on to build more than 25,000 homes in southern California.
Trousdale Estates, in the rolling foothills at the eastern edge of Beverly Hills, was his crowning achievement. It was developed on a 410-acre parcel of land that was originally owned by the Doheny family. Trousdale purchased the land in 1954 and divided it into 532 lots, and many great architects came running; Wallace Neff, Paul R. Williams, A. Quincy Jones and Frank Lloyd Wright are among those who designed houses there. Entertainment industry heavy hitters immediately warmed to the snazzy neighborhood and some of the many past and present high-profile residents include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Courtney Cox and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, who shelled out a gasp-worthy $72.5 million for his 11,000-square-foot mansion last year.
The huge and stately Doheny Mansion may be the best-known mansion in the area, but it’s Trousdale’s house that truly embodies the aesthetic of the development, which is permeated with architect John Woolf’s sumptuous and flamboyant style. Born in Atlanta, Woolf studied architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology then moved to Los Angeles in 1936, hoping to land a part in Gone with the Wind. He met director George Cukor instead, and Cukor ushered him unto Hollywood’s inner circle. In the late ‘40s Woolf met interior designer Robert Koch Woolf, a lover whom he subsequently adopted as his son. Together, the two became masters of the Hollywood Regency style and designed lavish homes for everyone from Greta Garbo to Bob Evans.
An eclectic mash-up, Hollywood Regency is an extravagant approach to architecture and interior design that synthesizes elements from many different schools. Sloped French mansard roofs, Doric columns, leaded oval windows, neoclassical urns, and vast expanses of glass and mirror combine to imbue these houses with an overt quality of luxury and glamour. They tend to be single story structures, and Pullman doors often lend them the quality of small jewel boxes. Once you get inside, though, you know there’s nothing small about these houses; they were clearly conceived and built to impress. And Trousdale’s own home was, and still is, certainly emblematic of that Tinseltown-tinged and quintessentially southern California glitz and glamour.