LA leaders take action to save Bob Hope's Toluca Lake estate from demolition

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Dolores and Bob Hope. Daily News file photo.
Dolores and Bob Hope. Daily News file photo.

TOLUCA LAKE >> It came up Friday as a demolition inspection permit for a pool house, production hut and garage.

But when Councilman David Ryu saw the pending demolition of outbuildings at the famed Bob and Dolores Hope estate in Toluca Lake, he called for emergency legislation.

Faster than one of the late comedian’s machine gun zingers, the City Council voted 12-0 to halt any pending teardowns until the city decides whether to deem the Bob Hope estate a city-cultural monument.

“We’re blessed in Los Angeles to have a number of entertainers and personalities that contribute to the fabric of our diverse city,” said Ryu, who represents a region from Van Nuys to Koreatown, in a statement. “Bob Hope is one of those personalities: He is an American icon.

“Today’s emergency legislation gives the city an opportunity to consider the estate’s historic designation status before it is demolished.”

Ryu, who is now at the center of a battle to save a portion of Chase Knolls Garden Apartments in Sherman Oaks, said it’s important that the city’s historic­-cultural resources are rescued for future generations.

Hope, one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, died in 2003, just two months after he turned 100. His wife, Delores, died in 2011.

RELATED STORY: Want to live like Bob Hope? His Toluca Lake estate will set you back $23 million

One of their four children, Linda Hope, obtained a demolition inspection permit Friday for an existing garage, production building and pool house at the family estate at 10346 Moorpark St.

Members of the Hope family could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Ryu’s motion Friday instructs the city’s Planning Department to initiate a historic-cultural monument nomination for the Bob and Dolores Hope estate, to be reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission.

In 2013, a citywide SurveyLA study of historic resources identified the Hope estate as a potentially historic residence.

“Obviously, Bob Hope was an iconic entertainer and a tremendous significant figure to the San Fernando Valley and the Toluca Lake community,” said Ken Bernstein, director of the Office of Historic Resources. “So this site will be considered for historic-cultural monument status.”

Los Angeles preservationists were elated by the City Council decision, which puts a halt to any demolition during the landmark nomination process.

RELATED STORY: ‘Bob Hope’ stripped from newly renamed Hollywood Burbank Airport

The Hopes lived at the estate for more than six decades, while raising their family, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, an advocacy group. Located on 5.16 acres in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of North Hollywood, the estate includes a large, two-story Period Revival residence and additional buildings, a swimming pool and extensive landscaping.

In addition to its association with Hope, the estate also is significant for its architectural design. Originally designed by local architect Robert Finkelhor and completed in 1939, it was expanded in the 1950s under the eyes of master architect John Elgin Woolf and interior designer Robert Koch Woolf.

John Elgin Woolf was the architect to Hollywood’s elite, including Errol Flynn, Mae West, Greta Garbo and Cary Grant, known for glamorous yet functional designs that often included mansard roofs and large front doors. Designer Robert Koch was his business and life partner.

“The Hopes are synonymous with the Valley and Hollywood history,” said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy. “And we’re thrilled that the city initiated this action to recognize and protect their longtime home.”



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