Earlier this year, Bob Newhart sold his 9,169 square foot Bel Air home for $14.5 million; the buyer demolished the house and recently put the lot on the market for $25.95 million. It’s noteworthy that upscale Southern California land value can render such a fine house so disposable.
The aforementioned home of Mr. Newhart was a 1941 French Country style in East Gate designed by legendary SoCal architect Wallace Neff. Neff’s work was wildly popular in Southern California during the period, merging Spanish, Mediterranean, Neoclassical and Colonial design elements, and developing in the process the style that would become known simply as ‘California,’ although more specifically Southern Californian. Neff homes have considerable historical appeal; even so, with land so desirable, it’s not all that surprising that the Newhart home was razed for one acre of open potential.
But it is a shame. The home featured five bedrooms, seven baths and five fireplaces, as well as the substantive construction and aesthetic integrity of a bygone age. The grounds—also razed—featured country-style landscaped gardens, stone patio with descending staircase and naturalistic, lagoon-style pool with waterfall. It’ll be interesting to see what replaces it.
Bob Newhart was a highly influential comedian and successful comic actor whose career has spanned more than half a century, beginning with the release of several bestselling comedy albums in the 1960’s. The first of those records, ‘The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,’ was a number one hit, and is considered a classic by devotees of the era’s gentler satirists, standing alongside contemporary long-playing efforts from Woody Allen, Jonathan Winters, and Peter Ustinov. He became a T.V. star when his ‘Bob Newhart Show,’ a vehicle for his dryer-than-wry delivery, struck gold for CBS in 1972, and ran for six years; it was followed with the equally successful CBS hit ‘Newhart,’ which ran for eight seasons in the 1980’s.