Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

A Mid-Century First – Hancock Park Style

We love hearing about the history of our local homes.  Guest contributor Phyllis Hansen recently dug into the story of the first mid-century home in Hancock Park, and spoke to both the current owner and the daughter of the home’s original owners.


By Phyllis Hansen


It is mid-century on-the-dot: summer 1950. The Kenneth Chantry family is moving into the new modern ranch-style home they had built at 415 S. Rimpau. It marked a monumental moment in the neighborhood, for this was believed to be the first single-level residence in Hancock Park. Recalls the family’s younger daughter Melinda (Chantry) Leonhardt, “Not all the neighbors were pleased.”



The home, with its handsome all-redwood exterior, remains a noteworthy architectural gem today amongst the taller and often older structures neighboring its corner of Rimpau and Fourth Street. Designed by Theodore (Ted) Criley, a celebrated Claremont, California architect who was known for residential modernism and a “total environment” ethos, it is set back on the lot unpretentiously with a circular front driveway. “It was just a blacktop surface when we moved in,” Melinda says. It is now widened and paved with concrete, and ramps to the entry have been added.



The buyer of the home from the Chantrys, who had handicapped access needs, was likely pleased with the single-story design aspects. More recently, the current owner of the property has surprised and delighted neighborhood passersby with a bit of “public art” embedded in the concrete at the entry to this driveway. As walkers turn the corner from Fourth Street onto Rimpau they often stop short, greeted with a message written in copper pennies, “Walk in Peace.”



In its 71 years, the house has been owned by just two families, perhaps a factor in the pride of place the residence presents. Buffy Lyn Roney, widow of the most recent buyer of the Chantry home, has “reversed time” for the home, taking it back, one step at a time, to its 1950 roots. Certain 1970 upgrades are being restored to original design, including the once-painted redwood facade. Buffy has also kept the property current, adding xeriscaping in lieu of grass, a complement to the stately 40-year-old palms that offer shade from both sides of the sidewalk.



The home’s approximately 12-foot wide chimney is a prominent design feature, inside as well as out. A second chimney connected to a once state-of-the-art trash incinerator system on the south side of the home. It became a permanent thing of the past when air quality regulations prohibited this activity. Melinda has sweet memories of her mother cooking on the house’s lanai using the built-in gas grill that also connected to this chimney.

The solo single-story status for 415 S. Rimpau did not last. Another ranch home was soon built on the adjacent lot to the south by Loyd Dodson, the owner of the Vogue Tyre and Rubber Co., and a fence put up to separate the properties. Other neighborhood changes were soon to come, but in 1950, there were still swaths of vacant land. North of 4th street, facing Rimpau, land that was part of the Adohr estate on Muirfield–later divided into three parcels–was, remembers Melinda, “Kind of a jungle.” A wire fence was all around, and she remembers hearing the frogs croaking at certain times of the day.

Melinda’s earlier years were spent in a home on Sierra Bonita, not far from Park La Brea, where she and friends spent carefree, youthful playtime riding bikes, exploring storm drains and wandering what was still undeveloped parts of Park La Brea property. “We’d have dirt clod tosses there,” she confesses, “something Mom never knew. When we moved to the new Rimpau house on the fancy street, I knew I had to behave.”




Phyllis Hansen is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She serves on the Board of Directors of several local historical organizations and is currently Board Director of Programs at the Ebell Club of LA. She is a frequent speaker on artistic and historic topics.

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  1. Hello Phyllis, thanks for the very interesting article about 415 S. Rimpau. We often walk our children past this property. I’ve wondered why the single story home was built on Rimpau among all the other two story homes. We live on Muirfield between 6th and Wilshire. Do you know the history of Muirfield Rd? I understand Muirfield between 6th and Wilshire was paved around 1918. I would love to see any photos you might have of the houses (ours included – 645 S) throughout the years. I didn’t know there were vacant lots on Muirfield as late as the 50’s.
    Thanks again!
    Wishing you the best!

  2. Hello Andrew, thank you for your nice comments! I am sorry I can’t help you with any Muirfield history or photos, but hopefully some other reader will have some more information for you about that. it sounds intriguing. Walk in peace!

  3. Thanks Phyllis – great article.
    For more on the older homes in the area, I recommend Duncan Maginnis’s beautifully researched “Historic Los Angeles” network of websites, which has a new section about Hancock Park (following on excellent pages about Wilshire Blvd., Berkeley Square, West Adams, Windsor Square, etc.). The Hancock Park pages are still under construction, so there aren’t yet histories of the individual houses, but there are photos of many of them and a good introduction to the area.


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