PERSON OF THE MONTH - (Please scroll down for Pet of the Month and Home of the Month)

THEO WILSON

 

You’ve probably passed the intersection of Camrose and Glencoe Way a million times, and hardly thought about the marker that says, Theo Wilson Square. 

 

As some wag once quipped, “You woulda hadta know her.” And an entire generation of newspaper readers felt like they did.

 

Her coverage of America’s history-making trials from Sam Shephard, to the likes of John De Lorean, Charles Manson, Patti Hearst, Sirhan Sirhan and Daniel Ellsberg, made her the dean of trial reporters.  Trials were her forte, but she also made her name on big stories ranging from the early Mercury space shots to Princess Anne’s wedding in London.  And when first lady Jacqueline Kennedy traveled to India and Pakistan, Wilson went along.*

 

So, weren’t we all lucky when she bought her Moroccan-style house on Glencoe Way and took possession of our neighborhood.  It didn’t take long for her to get us organized.  She dreamed up the name Hollywood Heights, to give some cachet to our previously anonymous hillside enclave.  Soon there were street parties, and neighbors getting together.  And in 1983, Hollywood Heights Association was formed by Theo and a few of her by then enchanted neighbors.  For 13 years, until 1997, when she went to that big City Room in the sky, Theo and her best friend and neighbor, AP reporter Linda Deutsch, wrote, edited and published “The View,” Hollywood Heights’ award winning monthly newsletter. 

 

Theo’s personality illuminated everything she did, and everywhere she went.  Especially Hollywood Heights.  She was, quite simply, the best. 

 

Thanks, Theo, for leaving your inimitable imprint on our neighborhood and our lives.

 

*Special thanks to Linda Deutsch, for letting me steal some of her material for this article. fc

PET OF THE MONTH

            Name:  Secondhand Rose            

Age:  Maybe 3 years, maybe not.
Gender: Female
         Breed: Mixed Havanese
  
       

I named her “Secondhand Rose.”  This should give you some idea of her background. 

When I adopted Rosie, she had only been in the shelter for a couple of days, after being rescued from the city pound.  Her horribly matted fur had been shorn, her spine and ribs were practically poking through her skin, she never barked, and she was recovering from kennel cough. 

My adored Bichon Frise, whom I had loved extravagantly for 14 years, had only three weeks before, been torn from my arms and killed by a neighbor’s bull mastiff.  It was a gothic nightmare, and I didn’t think I was ready to love another dog.  But though I believed I had only gone to the shelter that day, to hug some dogs and cry, Rosie needed to go home.  And I must have needed to take her, because before I knew it, she was nestled in my arms and on her way to her new life.

For the first six or so weeks Rosie only had two modes … clinging and playing.  On a nine hour auto trip over Christmas, she never left my arms.  We celebrated the holiday with 27 relatives wanting to hold her, and when they did, they all said, “I want this dog.” 

When she plays, she bounces up and down as if on springs, dives headlong into the mondo grass and disappears from sight, bounds through the ivy, does somersaults down my grassy hill, trips going up the steps, and slips going down (did I remember to mention that Rosie is a total klutz?)  And when she sits in your lap, she is so relaxed she sometimes slides right between your knees.  People stop their cars in the street and want to know her breed and how old she is.  I got so tired of saying I don’t know, that I began to tell them, “She’s a Llhasa Hope-so.”  This seemed to both satisfy and confuse them.  My vet and the shelter folks put her age at around 2 years, when i adopted her.  So, how come she’s at least a third bigger than when I got her?  I’ve started calling her “Fatso,” and I told her if she doesn’t stop growing, she’s out.

Rosie is a blessing in my life.  I don’t think I could have made it through the last months without her.  And, from all appearances, she feels exactly the same about me. 

rosie lives with hha board member

fredrica cooper

 

HOME OF THE MONTH

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FREEMAN HOUSE - 1924
1962 Glencoe Way

Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built Freeman House in 1924, for Samuel and Harriet Freeman.  The Freemans were members of L.A.’s avant-garde, who met Wright at Aline Barnsdall’s home, “Hollyhock House,” (Wright’s first project in Los Angeles) in what is now Barnsdall Park).

The Freemans asked Wright to design a home for them with a budget of $10,000.  Wright chose to design a concrete block house based on a 16-inch square that he estimated would cost $12,000.   The final bill was $23,000. It is one of three textile block houses built  in the Hollywood Hills in the 1920’s.

Designed as an experimental prototype of mass-produced affordable housing, the home’s richly patterned “textile-block” exterior was Wright’s invention, and is the most famous aspect of the home’s design.  Situated on a dramatic site overlooking Hollywood, with a  sight line right down the center of Hollywood Boulevard, Freeman  House is built with the world’s first glass-to-glass corner windows.

Around 3 years after the house was completed, the Freemans' discontent with the austere Wright furnishings and lack of guest quarters, led them into a collaboration with designer-architect and friend R.W. Schindler.  Schindler designed a lamp, tea cart, built-in couch, and a coffee table (cut down from a Wright-designed dining table) to make the house more suited for entertaining.  He also created an apartment on the lower level, with a small kitchenette built into  a cabinet, basically to help the Freemans pay his fees.  Schindler liked to do things cheaply and help his clients pay for the work.

Dancer Martha Graham, bandleader Xavier Cugat, art collector Galka Sheye, photographer Edward Weston, and architects Philip Johnson  and Richard Neutra all lived in the guest apartment at one time or another, or spent significant time at the house, which became     known as an avant-garde salon.

Unfortunately, Freeman House has been deteriorating from the day it was built.  Many of the problems have to do with the blocks.  They were hand-created, 75 to 100 per day, out of earth from the surrounding terrain (to harmonize the color of the blocks with the house’s setting).  When water penetrated the fragile blocks’ surfaces, it caused the interior rebar to rust and swell, which further damaged the blocks.  This inherent weakness raises some major issues facing conservators:  do you replace the blocks with original materials, or  with manufactured ones?   There is also a question of whether or not to remove the later structural alterations and additions, during the restoration.

After her husband died, Harriet Freeman, who was in residence until her own death in 1986, arranged the gift of the house to the School of Architecture at USC, to protect and preserve it as a national landmark. A large stipend from FEMA, to repair earthquake damage, finally provided for the major repairs required to stabilize the foundation and replace the badly leaking flat roof.  Further restoration is proceeding slowly, as funds become available. 

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