One of the most interesting homes in the Hancock Park neighborhood has come on the market for the first time in decades. The historic Spanish Revival style home at 501 N. Wilcox Ave. has been meticulously restored and historically appropriately renovated by Windsor Square based contractor/designers, Frances Hoge and Allison Meyerson.
501 N. Wilcox was built in 1923 by famed architect Jack Donovan for J.C. Levett. The Spanish Revival Style home is uniquely sited on a 17,000 square foot lot adjacent to the Wilshire Country Club Golf Course, with stunning views of the course that quite literally wrap around the 5,000 square foot home. According to realtors, the home was dubbed Casa Cubana, and was featured in Architectural Digest in 1923. It also played a starring role in the 1997 film noir thriller “L.A. Confidential” as the home of Kim Basinger’s character.
Developer/designers Frances Hoge and Allison Meyerson met when their sons, now sixteen, became best friends in preschool. Over the years, they discovered they had many shared interests, both worked in very customer focused jobs in the entertainment industry, they shared a love of old houses and each were very hands-on in their own home renovations. By coincidence, the two each had a moment to change careers, they decided to do what they loved, renovating historic homes. Though they don’t have formal design training, they are consummate students of historic preservation having lived in historic homes, and they have since purchased and renovated more than a half dozen houses in the neighborhood.
Unlike typical investment developers, Hoge and Meyerson truly care about preserving the architectural integrity of a house. They embrace the HPOZ design review process and actually find it helpful.
“We are willing to take a smaller return on investment,” explained Hoge. “We run a tighter ship, we have daily involvement with the project maintaining an efficient work site to keep costs down.”
They only do one project at a time and assemble a team of contractors and designers as needed. But they drive the design process, drawing inspiration from the house as they did with 501 N. Wilcox.
“This house occupies a special place in our hearts. Throughout the pandemic we have been able to come to work here everyday, we have been so lucky,” Meyerson explained as we enjoyed the shade of two mature olive trees that shelter an outdoor dining table in the expansive garden that surrounds the house. The two are so endearing, it’s no wonder all their projects remain in the hands of the owners who purchased them from Hoge and Meyerson. It also doesn’t hurt that they see their clients around the neighborhood.
Like many long time residents, they knew about this unusual home in the Hancock Park cul de sac that had remained in the hands of one family for several generations. When it finally came on the market in 2018, they told us they simply had to try to purchase it even though it was more house than any of their previous projects.
Worried about what could happen to the historic property if it fell into the hands of flipper who didn’t cherish the original architecture, Hoge and Meyerson told us, “we felt we had to bid on it.”
Not surprisingly, there were multiple offers. They credit their friend and listing agent, Diana Knox, and co-listing agent Aaron Kirman, with devising the winning strategy that won them the house. (Here’s a fun link to the house when it was sold in 2018, which shows photos of the house before the Hoge and Meyerson renovation.)
Hoge explained their design process started with the two-story living room and the adjacent dining room, both of which have incredible views of the garden and golf course beyond.
“We wanted the living room to look original,” explained Hoge. “It’s the DNA of the house, the inspiration of this gracious, timeless Spanish style home.”
Hoge and Meyerson found period-appropriate fixtures and craftsmen to repair architectural elements like the Magnesite staircase. Magnesite was applied to the top of concrete ground floors in unit blocks. It has been commonly used in homes built in the ’20s and ’30s, and was still used up into the ’70s, but it’s quite rare and hard to find these days, explained Hoge. So they opted to make repairs rather than wholesale changes to the stairs.
The team’s real design skills can be seen in the kitchen, family dining room and family room they created from a patchwork of rooms and former outdoor spaces. The focal point of the kitchen is the “sink with a view.” Designed for the chef or cook of the house, the kitchen sink offers the best views of the house and garden, since it’s probably likely to be the place where future owners will spend the most time. (You can take the virtual tour to see it.)
Throughout the house, there are other thoughtful touches that come from years of really living in a house. Hoge and Meyerson share their expertise, generously offering to share resources for historic elements and solutions that worked for them over the years.
501 N Wilcox is a unique property that comes with a hefty price: $7,495,000 for the 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house, guesthouse and pool house. As we have recently come to see our homes as workplaces, schools and personal sanctuaries in an uncertain and sometime unsafe world, Hoge and Meyerson have created a special place for someone lucky enough to snag it.