Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has listed Enchanted Hill, the one-time home of a 1920’s film-industry power couple and one of the most extraordinary houses in Beverly Hills. Allen is asking $150 million for the undeveloped property, but the acreage, for this particular neck of the woods, is astonishingly extensive: 120 acres.
The Enchanted Hill was developed as the estate of actor Fred Thomson and screenwriter Frances Marion. The designer of the now-defunct 10,000 square-foot Italianate villa and grounds was legendary architect-to-the-stars Wallace Neff; along with with another idyllic Neff residential vision on the wrong side of the Beverly Hills tracks, the Cornelius-Clifford mansion, the house represents the pinnacle of Neff’s work. Both homes were idealized expressions of an idealized place and time. One of them still remains.
Unfortunately—as was widely reported in 2001—Allen decided to demolish the home on Enchanted Hill, wiping from the face of the Beverly Hills cultural map an important historical landmark. The home was a Spanish colonial revival-style, and featured extraordinary craftsmanship and a series of highly individual details.
What is left is the largest ready-to-develop parcel in Beverly Hills. But the acute valuation of real estate in the area, having provided the motive to level an important piece of Los Angeles history, may also prevent the property from being developed into an additional act of insensitivity. There are many potential buyers who would relish the feel of a 120-acre buffer zone right in the heart of Beverly Hills, leaving the land, anyway, fairly intact, and this corner of the Beverly hills landscape mercifully unscathed.