When Tracey Goessel to Los Angeles ten years ago, she found the perfect house for her passion, collecting and preserving silent films. Goessel, a physician trained at Northwestern University, a member of the faculty at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and entrepreneur founding the company FairCode Associates, had decided to relocate to Los Angeles to be closer to her daughter. It took awhile but the house finally came on the market and was she able to purchase it and move in last July.
A gracious and generous person, Goessel, opened her home up for the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society annual homes tour this past November. Lucky guests, got to tour this amazing house that was once connected to the adjacent house to the south. Both homes were built in 1924. Dr. Isaac Hampshur Jones and his wife Emilie commissioned Johnson, Kaufman and Coate to design a twenty-room residence on the couples two hundred foot lot in Hancock Park, according to “Masters Architects of Souther California 1920-1940, Gordon B. Kaufman” written by local experts Bret Parsons, Marc Apppleton and Steve Vaught.
Kaufman is given full credit for the home as the only architect on the project, though the commission went to the partnership. The home is regarded as one of the finest examples of the English style.
“Sheathed in a combination of wood and rusticated Ashlar-cut stone from the Boise Stone Company, the Jones house was notable for its impressive track both in the interior and the exterior. It was reported that $250,00 worth of Indian teak provided by the Western Hardwood Lumber Company was used. The heavily paneled were considered among the finest in Southern California. A $30,000 pipe organ was also incorporated into the design,” according to Parsons.
After living in the home for just six years, the Jones, moved to Los Feliz commissioning Kaufman to design a smaller version of the Hancock Park on Linwood Drive in Laughlin Park.
New owners, Dorothy and J.W. Clune divided the house into two separate dwellings by remodeling the kitchen, staff wing and the porte cohere into a new house on the southern portion the parcel.
Hard to say what’s more interesting the house or Goessel, who was kind enough to meet with us just before the holidays, taking time take out from decorating her tree with the needlepoint ornaments she’s made over the years.
Goessel told us she purchased the house from the family who had lived there for nearly 40 years. She immediately fell in love with the playhouse they had built in the backyard and the secret room she found behind the fireplace in the living room. Both, she thought would make lovely play spaces for her baby granddaughter. The secret room off the living room currently holds a trove of silent movie posters that Goessel is in the process of restoring but one day she plans to turn it into a children’s library.
Her passion for silent films can be seen all throughout the house in the fantastic memorabilia she’s collected. She is the President and founder of the Los Angeles-based Film Preservation Society and served on the board of directors of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival . Her purchase of the Mary Pickford Douglas Fairbanks love letters started an eight-year quest to write the definitive biography of Fairbanks. “The First King of Hollywood, the Life of Douglas Fairbanks” was published in 2016.
“To most people today, however, Douglas Fairbanks is not even a forgotten man he was never known in the first place. Almost all who alive when he was in his heyday are gone. Even among the cinephile he is a neglected figure; Turner Classic Movies has never made him Star the Month, or even of the Day. Although he preserved every film turned multiple negatives over to the Museum of Modern Art before his death, a disgraceful number were allowed to deteriorate to powder. Yet he was the most popular male star of the silent era, recognize world over,” wrote Goessel who makes the case of why Fairbanks was important and worth of study. “His story is also the story of the birth of an industry-the transition of the movie business from a nickel novelty to a worldwide phenomenon. He was not merely an actor in this scene; he was a producer, a distributor, a theater owner. His influence was prodigious,” wrote Goessel.
The resulting book is a fascinating, detailed study of the founding of the film industry. Though relatively new to our city, Goessel is very much at home in this historic neighborhood and is an inspirational steward of our local history. Thanks to her for sharing it with us.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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