Could the post-pandemic office look like this? A spacious, elegant home built in 1923, the Gilbert House at 4526 Wilshire Blvd. offers old world charm, operable windows and plenty of room for socially distant offices. Forget trying to navigate elevators and poorly ventilated parking garages too. As fans of old buildings, we were smitten with the idea of this new office type in an old estate that we’ve driven by probably millions of times. And we finally got a chance to peek inside and see it.
Built in 1923 as the residence for famed Hollywood attorney W. I. Gilbert, best known for representing Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, James Cagney, and the like, according to Michael Spiegel Marketing Director for the Zacuto Group, which is listing the property for lease. Gilbert was a famous trial lawyer. He was serving as the general counsel to the Southern and Pacific Railroad at the time of his death in 1940, at the age of 64, from pneumonia.
In 2016, the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society gave the home, now an office building, the society’s Landmark Award. According to the society, the Mediterranean Revival mansion at 4526 Wilshire Blvd., was built in 1923 by H.H. Whiteley Architect. It was given Landmark Award #113.
The home was built for W.I. Gilbert during the 1920s post-war population and real estate boom in Los Angeles. The mansion remained a private home until the 1970s, during the rezoning and commercialization of Wilshire Blvd. In 1978, owner BDC Properties converted the dwelling into an office. They added parking in the front and made the building accessible for the disabled. Architect Scott MacGillivray also added new partitions on the first and second floors, and a raised patio and balustrades in the Italian revival style of the 1920s, wrote Carol Wertheim in the Historical Society awards booklet.
There’s quite a colorful storyline on the house and its occupants on historical enthusiast Duncan Maginnis’s blog. And it has also been featured in several films: “See” (2016), “Breaking the Girls” (2012), and “Never Been Kissed” (1999), according to Spiegel.
The house was built on the site at a time when Wilshire Boulevard was more residential and, miraculously, it remains mostly intact. The property consists of a main office building, a detached one bedroom apartment (with bathroom and kitchen), and a second detached bungalow with a private bathroom, all surrounding a bamboo garden and deck. We were able to tour the house in person, but you can visit it virtually.
“I think readers will love the insight on such a fabled and iconic boulevard building and hoping it can spark interest from anyone looking to lease it out. I cannot stress enough how great of a working environment it is during these COVID cautious times,” Spiegel told the Buzz.