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The Bob and Dolores Hope Sell Off Starts in Palm Springs

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Let the great Bob and Dolores Hope sell off begin!

A month or so ago rumors and reports began to circulate around the Coachella Valley and beyond that Mister and Missus Hope’s gigantic, bizarrely shaped John Lautner-designed house perched high above the desert floor in the exclusive Southridge enclave in Palm Springs would be made available with a rose-tinted $45,000,000 price tag and for the last two weekends the executors and heirs to Bob and Dolores Hope’s considerable Showbiz fortune have held traffic-jammed garage sales just inside the imposing brick and iron gates of the deceased couple’s sprawling four-parcel estate in the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles.

Bargain hungers and looky-loos were allowed to comb through boxes of old Christmas ornaments and tables laden with random household items but were scrupulously prevented by a team of brawny security guards from a taking pictures, a roam around the fully landscaped 5.15 acre grounds or a peep through the windows the 15,000 square foot residence. Unless it’s snapped up off-market first, the Hope estate is expected to be put on the open market sometime next year with an as-yet undisclosed asking price.

In addition to their Toluca Lake spread and the architecturally maniacal mushroom cap shaped mansion in the mountains above in Palm Springs, Mister and Missus Hope owned (at least) two other much more modest and well-maintained but dreadfully dated residences in the Palm Springs neighborhood known as The Movie Colony. The neighborhood, just east of the north end of downtown, got is name from the phalanx of Tinseltown luminaries who owned homes the area in the 1950s and ’60s. Besides Mister and Missus Hope, celebs who owned in the area include Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Gloria Swanson, and Darryl Zanuck.

We’re not sure if there are any big celebs who still own homes in The Movie Colony but we do know that in July 2012 high-camp and hi-larious television personality Ross Mathews and his Latin lover Salvador recently paid $223,000 for a walled and gated fixer upper with three bedrooms and three bathrooms situated on what listing information located as “right on the inside edge” of the neighborhood.

Anyhoo, way back in 1941—so the stories go—Mister and Missus Hope bought a 1936 Spanish bungalow directly across the street from Ruth Hardy Park. Missus Hope told Vanity Fair magazine back in 1999 that the house was “in the poor section” of Palm Springs. Isn’t that a hoot? Only a dignfied lady in her 90s can get away with saying something like that in a global publication without being hissed at by the P.C. Police.

Listen kittens, for the record, The Move Colony may not be Palm Beach, Pacific Heights, or Preston Holler in Dallas but, children, it’s hardly the ‘hood. Maybe in 1941 if you were married to a beloved international superstar and lived in a 15,000 square foot mansion in Toluca Lake it was the ghetto but today The Movie Colony is a grid of wide, well-maintained streets lined with professionally landscaped yards and renovated homes and estates on decent sized lots Many of the homes are owned by out-of-towners who lease them out at exorbitant rates to sun-seeking snow birders who live in locales where the winters are actually winter-like.

UPDATE (later same day): Your Mama has been contacted by at least one sassy real estate professional in Palm Springs who would like us to clarify some geographical misconceptions as regards to the real location of Mister and Missus Hope’s so-called Movie Colony residences. Bouth listings state they’re located in the Movie Colony but both homes are, technically, east of Avenida Caballeros. That means, technically, they’re not within the boundaries of the Movie Colony neighborhood organization. They are, in fact, situated in an area now known as Movie Colony East, designation no doubt designed to bask the less grand but still quite solid neighborhood in the reflected real estate glory of its more historic and affluent sister-hood immediately to the west. Capisce? Okay. Moving along then…

SELLER: Estate of Bob and Dolores Hope
LOCATION: Palm Springs, CA
PRICE: $469,000
SIZE: 2,126 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The first desert home purchased by Mister and Missus Hope, a dated but potentially charming 1936 Spanish bungalow now up for grabs with a $469,000 asking price, sits on an almost quarter acre pancake flat lot directly across from an elementary school that anchors the northeast corner of Ruth Hardy Park. The single story casa measures in at about 2,126 square feet, according to current listing information, with a total of three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Underfoot there are dated but cooling, white basket weave pattern tiles on the floor throughout the main living spaces including in the Caribbean villa vibed living room with its painted brick fireplace and airy painted wood vaulted ceiling. The tile floors extend into the mountain view dining room and an amply scaled north-facing sun porch with swinging built-in wet bar and a long wall of sliding glass doors that open to a slender strip of concrete and a wider patch of well-watered lawn.

The open-ended galley kitchen and at least one of the three bathrooms appear in listing photos to be functional but are well past their prime and will likely be ripped out and replaced with something much more contemporary by the next owner.

There are, we surmise from marketing materials, two bedrooms and two bathrooms in the main part of the house plus an attached but separate casita bedroom with private bathroom.

The hedged grounds don’t offer much in the way of eye candy and there isn’t currently a swimming pool or spa on the property. There is, however, room for a pool and spa and there is plenty of off-street parking in the gated driveway and two car garage as well as mountain views marred by a few streaks of telephone wires.

SELLER: Estate of Bob and Dolores Hope
LOCATION: Palm Springs, CA
PRICE: $659,000
SIZE: 2,943square feet, 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Mister and Missus Hope seemed to like the—ahem—poor section of Palm Springs just fine because in 1946, five years after buying their park-side bungalow across from Ruth Hardy Park, they snatched up a second house in the ‘hood just four blocks away.

The low-slung featureless mid-century ranch meets shuttered Bahamian bungalow residence that popped up on the open market yesterday with a $659,000 asking price, occupies a .37 acre corner lot behind high-wall and locked gates that promote privacy and security. Although architecturally apples to the Spanish bungalow’s oranges, the finishes and remaining day-core between Mister and Missus Hope’s two homes are remarkably similar.

Listing information shows the T-shaped single story house has five bedrooms and 7 three-quarter bathrooms slammed into 2,943 square feet. We’re not exactly sure how you comfortably fit five bedrooms and seven bathrooms plus all the other living spaces into less than three thousand square feet but those is the numbers on the marketing materials.

Instead of the white tiles in the Hopes’ Spanish bungalow there are equally ordinary and nicely cool under the feet beige square tiles with darker grouting laid throughout most of the main living areas. We see them in the living room with its massive white brick fireplace, in the dining room with its disturbing mirrored wall and in the sunny south-facing sun porch equipped with a swinging built-in wet bar and direct access to the front-loaded swimming pool through a wide bank of Old Timey aluminum framed sliding glass doors.

The all-white, circa 1980 kitchen appears in good repair and is certainly plenty large enough to to accommodate a center work island and—even though there’s only one shown in the listing photo—side-by-side fridge/freezers. But it’s also in desperate need of a face-lift. There’s only so much injecting and contouring one can do to a kitchen before it will—if staying decoratively relevant is the goal— require a radical intervention.

The cooler north side of the house opens up to a broad concrete terrace that switches to very green grass as it stretches out to the property line fencing and down to the just about detached two car garage. Aerial images freely available on the interweb show the concrete terrace was at one time covered entirely by a shade making trellis.

We don’t really know exactly why Mister and Missus Hope maintained both these homes for the last 70 years. Maybe they just liked them better than their big ol’ crazy house on the hill or maybe they housed family, guests and or staff  in them. Who knows? Whatever they case they’re soon to be sold and believe it or not, puppies, Your Mama’s real estate sources tell us the market in Palm Springs is actually quite brisk and they expect both houses will likely sell quickly in multiple offers, possibly for more than the asking price.

There’s a good chance that one or both of the Hopes’ homes will be bought by a house flipper and/or somebody who happens to be homosexual. Palm Springs is, children, almost comically gay friendly. Said fictional same sexer  homeowner will, Your Mama might predict, blow a large wad of his discretionary income to push and prod each home into that colorful and “humorous” haute desert version of Hollywood Regency style that took hold in Palm Springs nearly 20 years ago, long ago reached its apex with the opening of the Kelly Wearstler-decorated Viceroy hotel in 2003 and stubbornly persists as a decorative norm with the tenacity that a barnacle cleaves to a pier’s pylon.

There’s also a very good chance that when the residences are refreshed and renovated one or both will become expensively available to rent for the wintertime vacations of lily white skinned heat seekers, many of whom will come from San Francisco and Vancouver.

Don’t laugh or hate, children, because all of y’all who have been to Palm Springs even once in the last 10 years know instinctively in the pumice stoned soles of your feet that that is exactly what could very well happen. Anyhoo…

listing photos: Patrick Stewart Properties / Windermere Real Estate

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