"I am a pilgrim in Beachwood Canyon
Harmonies still echo from that mansion."
I wrote those lyrics as a tribute to a magnificent house that looms large in my memory. It was my Grandparents' home for nearly thirty years - site of Easter egg hunts, Christmas carols around the piano, family feasts, and loads of love and laughs with aunts, uncles and cousins. And immeasurable joy.
Built in the late 1920s in a development that was called "Hollywoodland," the English Tudor house looms like a castle on a hill in Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles, just under the Hollywood Sign. It's a little bit famous because it was once owned by Bela Lugosi, but it is much beloved in our family - filled with treasured memories of good times with all the friends and relations who shaped our lives and gifted us with cherished family traditions.
|Helen and Phil Leslie, early 1960s|
Helen and Phil Leslie bought the house 1945 for around $25, 000; it sold last year for $2.6 million. My grandfather, a comedy writer for radio and television, would have had a good laugh over that price -- and the extensive publicity the house garnered when it was on the market, because it once belonged to a famous actor.
|Granddad's snapdragons, c. 1960|
|My mother, Jane Leslie Coombs, escorted by her father, 1953.|
|We kids would have turned our noses up at the brown trout Grandma was cooking in this picture - but her fudge-frosted cupcakes were legendary.|
To our family, it will always be The House of Plenty. It is being restored by new owners, after having been neglected for many years after my grandparents sold it in the 1970s. I've enjoyed keeping up with goings-on in that charming neighborhood at the blog: Under the Hollywood Sign.
I was in LA a couple weeks ago and took a drive up Beachwood Canyon. A girlfriend and I hiked up the Secret Stairs to get a look at the house. The front has been re-landscaped and I felt like I was visiting a beloved old friend.
The facade is missing the foliage I remember: shade trees, hydrangeas, camellias, and the statue of Saint Francis. But it looks lovingly cared for and inviting. Here's hoping the family moving in to The House of Plenty is blessed with an abundance of love and joyful memories to last a lifetime - and then some.
|2835 Westshire Drive, 2014|