AKA: Oakridge, Northridge, Los Angeles, CA; Rancho Cordillera del Norte, Northridge, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1937

2 stories, total floor area: 6,400 sq. ft.

18650 Devonshire Street
Northridge, Los Angeles, CA 91324-1309

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Actress Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens 1907-1990) underwent a bitter divorce from vaudeville actor Frank Fay (born Francis Anthony Donner 1891-1961) in 1935, and sought new quarters in which to live. Fay had married Stanwyck at the start of her film career in 1928, and as her star glowed during the 1930s, his dimmed, leading to friction. Stanwyck needed insulation from Hollywood. She enjoyed riding horses and sought out property near Northridge, a sparsely populated center for horse culture in Los Angeles at the time. She and her friend and agent, Herbert Manfred "Zeppo" Marx (1901-1979), bought parcels next to each other in the 1930s, creating a combined property known as "Marwyck Estates." The original Stanwyck/Marx parcel making up Marwyck--conceived to be an equestrian-friendly residential development --contained about 100 acres. (For "Marwyck Estates," they retained architect Robert Finkelhor to design the residences.) On her parcel, Stanwyck retained Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), an important architect for the stars for decades, to design this 12-room, 6,400-square-foot French Provincial house for Stanwyck. She lived here only a short time, just before her 1939 marriage to Robert Taylor; following her marriage, she and Taylor acquired property closer to the movie lots in Brentwood, and she sold her Northridge land to actors Jack Oakie (born Lewis Delaney Offield, 1903-1978) and his wife, Victoria Horne Oakie (1911–2003), who bought the house from her in 1940. The Oakies lived the remainder of their lives on this rural estate, which became increasingly surrounded by development. Showing a remarkable degree of resolve, they turned down repeated offers to alter the character of their home. In 1990, Victoria Oakie arranged to have the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission declare her house by Williams a Historic-Cultural Monument. Following her death in 2003, she then bequeathed the house and land to the University of Southern California (USC), which sought to sell it to developers who planned construction of 28 condominium units; these plans fell through. In 12/2009, the City of Los Angeles paid $3.35 million for the Oakie Estate--the former Stanwyck House and 11 acres--to create a public park and community center for the San Fernando Valley. (See Dana Bartholomew, "Oakie House saved from destruction," posted 01/31/2010Accessed 03/19/2013.)

Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument (1990-03-23): 484

PCAD id: 10674