Photographer: Maynard L. Parker, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Lots in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles were first developed in the 1920s and the tract was 80% sold when Paul R. Williams designed this home on North Las Palmas. Constructed in 1929 for Katherine Peachy, the house was built by much-in-demand builders Howden and Howden and was the first completed residence on the street. The depressed economy meant some of Williams' original design details were not realized in her two-story 4,500 square-foot home until 1933. Ultimately this home was purchased by Clyde and Alice Burr in 1952. (Historical Highlights of the Hancock Park Rancho La-Brea Area 1960-1973)
“Miss Alice Hicks, whose engagement to Clyde Burr was announced recently has chosen Thursday, November 14, as the date for her wedding, the ceremony to take place in the home of her sister (Buffy) and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Frank Gross in Chester Place.” (Los Angeles Times October 11, 1929) Shortly after Juana Neal Levy wrote this in her Society column, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Though Gross, a mortgage banker, suffered financial losses, the Hicks-Burr nuptials took place as scheduled.
For the next forty years Alice, a member of an old-line Los Angeles family, and Clyde Burr were regularly mentioned in the Los Angeles Times where readers could follow the activities of “old society" and new Hollywood. Burr rose from legal counsel at the Los Angeles Steamship Company to become a popular local Justice of the Peace and finally a municipal Judge. As a debutante in 1925 Alice was one of the 33 founding members of the Convalescent Children’s League, which would become Junior League Los Angeles (1926). She took her role as a member of the city's privileged "leisure class" seriously and headed the League's efforts to aid the "unfortunate people unable to survive the Depression without assistance." (Los Angeles Times. May 15, 1932) For many years she served as a patroness for the Los Angeles Orphans’ Home and the Hollywood Bowl. The popular couple often entertained at home.
The Los Angeles Times’ society pages chronicled the Burr’s social life and various residential moves. The newspaper described their life together as "just one startling event after the other." (April 11, 1934) He was usually described as attractive and Alice was chic. As a young married couple they served cocktails on Chester Place, the oldest gated community in Los Angeles. In the 1940s they entertained committee chairs for the annual Assembly Ball at their home on South Plymouth Boulevard in park-like Windsor Square. By the end of the 1950s they had moved to Hancock Park, fêting a newly wed couple with a supper party.
These 1958 Maynard L. Parker photographs taken for Architectural Digest show the Burr’s Monterey Revival-style home and its furnishings. (ZIMAS) Though this glossy home décor magazine highlighted the Virginia Stewart McClellan interiors, the Williams’ touches popular in his 1930s designs are notable including the heavily detailed ceilings, use of distressed chestnut wood, and extensive molding. The magazine described the enclosed landscaped courtyard (image 1) with seating as "perfectly designed for indoor and outdoor entertaining, characteristic of early California living." (The exterior photograph also shows the cantilevered balcony an important element of this architectural style.) With all main rooms of the house opening onto this courtyard, Williams made the space a natural extension of the home's living area. Though a relatively "fresh" new California inspired style in 1930, by the 1950s Monterey Revival had evolved into a more traditional form. It is not difficult to understand this older home’s traditional appeal for the Burrs.