If you were invited to a dinner party at an up-and-coming star’s apartment during Hollywood’s golden age, there’s a good chance you would have experienced the storybook grandeur of architect Leland A. Bryant.
While not much is remembered about Bryant himself, many of his buildings live on, and have hosted new generations of famous names through the decades. His Spanish Colonial-style Romanesque Villa on Harper Avenue in West Hollywood is said to have been home to Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor. The owners recently offered new tenants a chance to enjoy that piece of history in a one-bedroom apartment replete with crown molding and vintage tiling for $2,100 a month.
(From the pages of the April 9 issue of Variety.)
After her split from Russell Brand, Katy Perry reportedly moved into Bryant’s Colonial House on Havenhurst Drive. The Colonial Revival-style building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places is purportedly the former home of Jamie Lee Curtis and Julia Roberts — and the final home of Bette Davis. (Perry rented her three-bedroom flat, but another unit in the complex sold for $860,000 in 2012).
“(Bryant) worked in all styles, but he tended to work more in the French chateau,” says Adrian Scott Fine, advocacy director of Los Angeles Conservancy, which works to preserve the county’s historic architecture and cultural resources. “It was all about creating a kind of exotic fantasyland with architecture, which fit well with the Hollywood scene.”
Still, Fine says Bryant’s best-remembered creation is stylistically different — the booming Art Deco marvel now known as the Sunset Tower. Liz Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes and Errol Flynn once resided at the apartment-turned-hotel on the Sunset Strip. Nowadays, Dmitri Dmitrov, the maitre d’ at the hotel’s Tower Bar, has mastered the stealth art of knowing the intricate details of every A-lister who reserves space at his tables.
“(Bryant) created things that were a little more special than the run of the mill,” Fine says. “A lot of architecture employed these styles, but he seemed to go the extra mile in terms of his execution of them.”
These finely wrought details carried on, even as his buildings entered darker days. Realtor Brian Moore, who with his wife Laura runs L.A. Vintage Homes and specializes in Hollywood housing with character and history, has brokered deals at the Colonial as well as other Bryant-designed properties like the Larchmont-area Country Club Manor and West Hollywood’s Granville Towers. The Towers once housed Rock Hudson and David Bowie, and are where Twilight actress Ashley Greene’s rented condo caught fire in March.
Moore was also was the Realtor when Bryant’s six-story French Norman-style Le Trianon was put on the market in June. Although Moore says the residential building, a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument, had fallen into disrepair, the details were still there. “It was still in very much original condition,” he says.
In other words, like all timeless yet aging stars, Le Trianon is just waiting for its comeback.