When H. H. Glen contracted with Paul Williams to design his family residence on North Las Palmas Avenue, the architect’s reputation as a designer of tasteful luxury homes was already established. Costing $13,500 in 1935, the Colonial Revival-style wood and red masonry house (image 4) said much about the Glen family and their place in Los Angeles’ old line elite. Not part of the arriviste movie industry living in Beverly Hills mansions, Hugh, Jane and son Robert Elliott’s home was a “graceful, elegant statement … of how you should live your life.” (Dana Goodyear. The New Yorker, 2005)
The 5000 square-foot residence Williams designed for the Glens in 1935 was substantial and restrained—very much like the family. (image 4) The home’s simple exterior hid from the street the luxurious interior of arched doorways, pocket doors, pilasters, built-in niches and the dramatic curved entry staircase. Williams’ understated custom touches communicated prosperity without ostentation. With 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, library, formal dining room, breakfast room, foyer and maid’s quarters the house was not pretentious but was expected in a home belonging to a successful executive. (Los Angeles Times. August 18, 1935)
Though not one of Williams’ movie star clients, Hugh Glen’s business transformed California. As President in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s of Emsco Derrick and Equipment and later Johnston Pump (1954), Glen’s companies supplied drilling equipment for both the oil and water industries. “Making the deserts bloom for fifty years” was more than a slogan to Glen. By developing complex drilling and distribution systems, these equipment companies helped the state become an agricultural and energy powerhouse. Popular and respected in his industry Glen was elected Chairman of the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association from 1945-1947.
Jane and Hugh were active members of old Los Angeles society. For over twenty years the Los Angeles Times chronicled their cocktail buffets, Dutch dinners, parties, and charity meetings held at their North Las Palmas home. Jane was a well-known hostess and club member excelling at creating festive touches for every occasion. Hugh’s peers described him as a “guitarist extraordinary.” (Pacific Oil World, 1966) The couple often visited with friends at Palm Desert or enjoyed the races at Hollywood Park. Jane’s outfits were described in Christy Fox’s society columns.
In 1955 Hugh died unexpectedly and soon after the newspaper advertised an estate sale of furniture, Chinese objects, and bric-a-brac at the home. (Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1955) Insurance executive Clark Bonner and his wife Bettie bought the house and lived there for many years with three children. The daughters remember sunbathing as teenagers on one of the upstairs porches. In 1968 the house was listed for sale again and would have a number of different owners until 2000. Under the care of the current owners the house once again is a “graceful, elegant statement ... of how you should live your life.”