A couple weeks ago, Yolanda chatted about a historic mansion in LA’s fashionable Hancock Park neighborhood that was recently acquired by horror film mega-producer Jason Blum, the dude behind scary (and highly lucrative) film franchises such as The Purge, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister. A wee memory refresher: though Mr. Blum began renovating that property, he had an abrupt change of heart (for unknown reasons) and silently dumped the house in an off-market deal. Though he owned that house for just three months, he lost several hundred thousand dollars on the old lady, once real estate fees and renovation costs are included.
But you can toss money away like that when your films have grossed well over $2 billion globally, y’all.
Anyway, Yolanda’s previous story mentioned rumors that Mr. Blum was already in escrow on another Hancock Park house. At the time, however, we were not sure which property had caught his captured his flighty fancy. But now the streetcorner gossip has intensified! Whispers have now turned into shrieks, and Yolanda has pinpointed the new address.
Although the transaction does not yet appear to be officially recorded, we hear this deal is already done-done-done. And the moving finger of accusation indicates that Mr. Blum is buying a humongous 100-year-old pile located in Hancock Park’s gorgeous (and guard-gated) Fremont Place enclave. The hulking mansion in question was recently offered on the market for $11 million before being suspiciously yanked off the MLS back in late May (2018).
Although Yolanda has been bloggin’ for quite some time, we think this might be the very first Fremont Place house we have ever discussed. That’s odd because this LA neighborhood is terrifically expensive and contains dozens of lovely homes. But so it is — and thus we owe y’all a quick neighborhood overview.
Fremont Place is one of the oldest gated communities in all of Los Angeles. Located pretty much smack-dab in mid-city LA, this southern part of Hancock Park is bordered by traffic-jammed Wilshire Boulevard to the north and by equally congested Olympic Boulevard to the south. The enclave has 73 homes but just one entrance, located on Wilshire. The towering concrete columns — which date all the way to 1911 — unmistakably guard the entrance to the enclave of 73 multi-million dollar homes.
Over the past 100+ years, this 50-acre community has survived The Great Depression, recessions, both World Wars, and even a nasty bout of The Plague. Somehow it has remained (mostly) intact as an oasis of peace in hectic LA. Over the past century, residents have included the typically eclectic array of rich folks from Hollywood and beyond — everyone from Mary Pickford to Mohammed Ali.
Y’all will not find any modern spec-mansions here, and no one architectural theme prevails other than a very genteel sort of grandness. No matter what architectural style a buyer seeks — Italian Renaissance, Georgian, Beaux Arts, French Normandy, Tudor, Spanish Revival — there is something for everyone hidden behind these columns.
For the official neighborhood history, visit the Fremont Place homeowner’s association website.
As for Mr. Blum, he clearly wants to live large. No joke. This red-shingle-roofed, chapel-equipped behemoth is a major estate.
Described in the listing as a Mediterranean Revival — Yolanda would call the style an Alabama-influenced Italian Renaissance — the 9,339-square-foot mansion sits on one of the largest lots in the community: 1.25 acres of flat land with expansive lawns and formal gardens. A sweeping circular driveway allows for easy pickup and depositing of guests and such.
Though the house is 103 years young, Mr. Blum will be only the property’s fifth owner. As noted by the folks over at the Fremont Place blog — yes, this enclave has its own blog, naturally — the house was one of the first built in the community and was originally the winter home of Illinois real estate developer Charles Henry Thompson. After a few years of use, Mr. Thompson sold the place to oilman King G. Gillette, son of razor blade tycoon King C. Gillette.
By 1927, Mr. Gillette had hightailed outta Fremont Place for a more fashionable new neighborhood known as Beverly Hills. The house was subsequently sold to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and for the next 35 years (or so), the property was home to Catholic priests and the like. The Archdiocese even had an at-home chapel installed as a convenient place for personal reflection and prayer.
Lucky monks! Or perhaps blessed is a more apt phrasing?
In 1973, the Archdiocese sold the property for a paltry $175,000 to well-known LA socialite Patte Barham, daughter of William Randolph Hearst‘s business partner Dr. Frank Barham. Clearly a fun-loving lass, Ms. Barham lived and entertained lavishly at this home for the last 43 years of her life. She died in November 2016 (at the ripe old age of 99!) and the house passed to her widower Jim Inman, the fellow who is now selling the house to Mr. Blum for $9.5 million (or so).
We certainly appreciates that Mr. Inman did not bother to stage the property, which is clearly vacant. You can get a better sense of the old-school grandeur and architectural details this way.
From the driveway, a short flight of steps leads to a baronial entrance foyer flanked by grandly scaled formal living and dining rooms, all of them slathered in exotic Honduran Mahogany hardwood. Accessible from a corner of the living room is the chapel, which is actually quite large — bigger than some recent family rooms we have seen, in fact. That 1920s stained glass is very cool, but the dreadful carpet has got to go. Same thing with the carpet in the lengthy sun room behind the chapel, which has a fireplace and rows of windows overlooking the backyard.
The kitchen is far more petite than the cavernous eat-in spaces required by today’s mansion buyer, but the vintage stove is pleasantly charming. There are some newer stainless appliances, too. Pay no heed to the ho-hum tile floors or linoleum countertops — Yolanda would be shocked if the whole space is not demo’d in a real estate hot minute.
There are no fewer than seven bedrooms upstairs, including one whole wing dedicated to the master suite, which is comprised of two bedrooms, two walk-in closets, and a full bathroom. In addition to the home’s two full floors of living space, the estate sports a full basement, a walk-in attic for storage, a four-car garage, and a detached guesthouse with one bedroom suite, a kitchen, and a living room.
And for all you kids obsessed with floorpans, this house comes with a glorious boatload of ’em. Listing information says there are 9 beds and 7 baths on the premises, but Yolanda counts 10 beds and 6 baths in the main house — 11 and 7, respectively, with the guest house included. Hmm. Either the listing is off, or maybe we’re just too drunk off the afternoon sauce to count accurately.
Some of Mr. Blum’s new Fremont Place neighbors include fellow filmmaker Shane Black (he’s right next door), cosmetics mogul Toni Ko, superrich Miss Me jeans founder Stella Cho, and entertainment industry stalwarts Bridget Fonda & Danny Elfman.
We assume Blum will want to overhaul his latest residential acquisition, a process that could take years and easily cost millions — depending on just how comprehensive of a renovation he is plotting. In the meantime, he will be living (again, we assume) at his $6.7 million condo in Downtown LA’s Ritz Carlton Penthouses at LA Live.
Mr. Blum picked up the 3-bed, 3.5-bath unit (which he shares with wife Lauren and young daughter Roxy) back in 2016 from Mary Hart & Burt Sugarman. The luxury digs come with a variety of hotel-like perks: room service, housekeeping services, and access to a mansion-sized indoor spa complex.