SELLER: Allison Janney
LOCATION: Palm Springs, CA
SIZE: 6,657 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Over the weekend, while Your Mama did some peeping and poking around in the property records regarding the John Lautner-designed Bob and Delores Hope house in Palm Springs, CA that recently and very quietly available through an upscale Beverly Hills brokerage with—so the rumor goes—an astronomical $45,000,000 asking price, we happened across documentation that reveals the sublime and much-lauded four time Emmy winning actress Allison Janney (West Wing, Juno, The Help) owned a house just down the street from the Hope house that—quelle horror—she lost to unforgiving maw of foreclosure in September or October 2012.
The rambling, glassy and low-slung house was designed by prolific Coachella Valley-based modernist architect Hugh Kaptur* and built in 1977 for Oscar-winning actor William Holden who, may he rest in peace, died just a few years later in 1981.** We’re not exactly sure when Mister Holden—or the heirs/executors of his estate—sold the sprawling ridge line residence in the exclusive, guard-gated Southridge enclave but we do know from property records that it eventually came to be owned by a wealthy—and now deceased—Detroit-based attorney whose widow sold the property in late July 2006 for $3,950,000 to Miz Janney and restaurant consultant and self-described menu engineer Gregg Rapp.**
Of course, Your Mama does not know a gila monster from a cockroach so we really can’t say whether Miz Janney (and Mister Rapp) acquired the property as an investment, for personal use or for some other reason. However, there’s plenty of evidence available online that they returned the residence to the open market in early 2008 with an unknown asking price.
The property was de- and re-listed several times over the next couple of years and in March 2010—or thereabouts—the property popped back up on the open market with a sky-high asking price of $5,500,000. By October (2010) the price tag had plunged to $4,495,000 and later shrank even further to $3,995,000, just a smidge more than Miz Janney and Mister Rapp paid for the place in 2006, near the apex of the most recent and dramatically burst real estate bubble.
It appears to Your Mama that the house was put into escrow in April 2012 but, alas, the transaction was not consummated. Six short months later, according to online documentation we perused, a lending institution took over ownership of the property in a foreclosure proceeding and quickly re-listed the house with an substantially lower asking price of $2,250,000. Within two weeks an offer was accepted by the bank and a sale is, as of today, pending.
Listing information still available online states the sprawling, two story steel and glass residence sits on 3.17 ridge line acres and spans 6,657 square feet with a total of five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms**** that include a massive master suite with two-way fireplace, 36-foot long walk-in closet/dressing room and a spacious bathroom with fireplace, indoor/outdoor shower, and a sunken tub set in front of a wall floor-to-ceiling windows.
A long and wide driveway capable of parking multiple cars leads to a three-car car port. Inside, exceptionally roomy public entertaining spaces include a vast foyer/living/dining area with fireplace and long expanses of floor to ceiling windows and sliders, a fully paneled library, a separate Balinese-themed media room, an eat-in kitchen and a gigantic lower level entertainment room with built-in wet bar.
The house opens up to both a cantilevered covered deck that runs along the back of the house and connects to the backyard area where there are multi-level terraces, a party-sized spa and a negative edge swimming pool that pushes out over the steep and craggy hillside.
The location high above Palm Springs and the house itself are spectacular but the majority of the finishes and day-core are downright kooky and/or decidedly outdated. Just get a load of the parquet floors, the bizarrely-Balinese style library, the oblong fireplace extrusions, the 1980s era kitchen equipped with notably up-to-date appliances and the fully paneled library that looks like it was ripped straight out of a mansion in the flats of Beverly Hills. None-the-less, in the deft and skilled hands of a smart architect and a nice-gay or lady decorator the house could be a knock-’em-out showstopper with panoramic canyon, desert and valley views. We can only hope the new owners don’t do one of those godawful and ridiculously cliche, retro-minded Hollywood Regency meets The Rat Pack themed day-core of which so many folks in Palm Springs seem to be so persistently and ubiquitously enamored.
Property records reveal that Miz Janney still owns a fairly nondescript, 1,925 square foot ranch-style residence with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on two adjacent parcels nestled into a steep slope near the tail end of a quiet canyon cul-de-ac in Studio City, CA that she picked up in late May 2011 for $799,000.
*Almost a decade earlier Mister Kaptur did up a two-story contemporary a few doors down from the Holden house for manly actor Steve McQueen. The McQueen house is now owned by California-based businessman Michael Kilroy who also owns the very daring, John Lautner-designed Elrod House next door as well as the house directly across the street, designed by Arizona-based architect Michael P. Johnson and called The Boat House.
**Mister Holden previously owned another glassy abode in the Deepwell Estates area of Palm Springs that he shared with actress Stephanie Powers and was later owned by actress Tippi Hedren. As it turns out, the four-parcel estate was acquired in July 2011 for $1,349,000 by a couple of fellas from Miami who—we understand from a desert dweller—have given the original mid-century modern über-modern update and renovation.
***We’re not sure of the connection between Mister Rapp and Miz Janney but since they both grew up in upper middle class circumstances in Dayton, OH we have to assume they’re long-time friends. As it turns out, Mister Rapp also owns another house in the Southridge enclave, a William Cody-deisgned house that he bought for $261,000 in early 2002 with long-time family friend and Ukrainian-born former professional basketball player Vitaly Potapenko. Mister Potapenko went to college in Dayton and that appears to be the connection between him and Mister Rapp. Online documentation suggests Mister Potapenko either sold or gave up any ownership in the house to Mister Rapp in 2005 and, although he’s so far managed to hang on, Mister Rapp has repeatedly battled foreclosure on the property since early 2010.
****Some online listings show the house at 8,000 square feet with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms while at least one property record data base we consulted shows the house has 7,508 square feet and the Riverside County Tax Man shows there are just three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Make of that what you will.