Issue: Winter 2012-2013
Sheryl Crow's Historic Estate
by Michael Locke
Like many celebrity-owned homes tucked away in secluded canyons and dotting the hillsides and canyons of the Hollywood Hills, the Los Angeles estate of Sheryl Crow has a fascinating history. The property includes three dwellings built during three significant periods of Hollywood’s history. During the late 1890s and well into the twenties, Hollywood was not much more than a sleepy outpost with a few scattered frame houses, when Dr. Lowell C. Frost, a physician and biologist visiting from Buffalo, New York saw the land and fell in love with its rustic seclusion. He purchased the 11 acre site for the princely sum of $11 an acre, and moved into the c.1885 cottage on the property along with his wife and young son in 1906. He hired up-and-coming architect Arthur R. Kelly to design a Craftsman style house on the property, which he called "Mariposa", Spanish for "butterfly", after the flocks of Monarchs he found there.
Kelly designed over 500 buildings beginning in about 1902, the year he moved to Los Angeles from Iowa. After a brief stint in the office of Greene and Greene, he opened his own office. His best known commissions include Huntington Beach High School (1908); Christie Hotel (Hollywood); William S. Hart Ranch (Newhall); Arthur Letts Estate (Holmby Hills, now known as The Playboy Mansion); Harvard-Westlake School (Bel-Air) and the Wilshire Country Club in Hancock Park. During the Lowell's ownership of the house, Actor David Niven and Composer Arnold Schonberg were their guests, staying in the cottage.
The restored 1909 Craftsman living room features original Stickley furnishings.
The house was meticulously restored by Martin Eli Weil during the ownership of Film Director, Screenwriter and Producer Monty Montgomery. Weil, known for his "scrupulous attention to detail," passed away in 2009, was a leading restoration architect and a past president of the Los Angeles Conservancy who was involved in the restoration of landmark structures such as the El Capitan Theatre and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Storer House.
Sheryl Crow purchased the compound in 1996, setting up the c.1924 Spanish Colonial Revival 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bath main house on the property as her residence, where she composed many of her hits, recording "C'mon, C'mon" in the living room. The elegantly-restored and remodeled home has a romantic two story entry with wrought iron staircase, step-down living room with original Spanish tiles, beamed ceiling and period fixtures; music room, library and 450 bottle wine cellar in 5,357 sq. ft.
The estate is appropriately secluded from public view at the end of North Vista Street. On the other side of the privacy gates, another world exists, due in no small part to the landscape re-design by Johnny Appleseed. The award-winning landscape architect tied the properties together, adding a Brazilian ironwood footbridge, infinity pool and cabana; tee pee, campsite, playground, hiking trails, stone walls and walkways from stone quarried from the property. Walkways are lined with native plants, cacti and non-native trees and bushes popular in the nineteenth century—eucalyptus, pepper and palm trees, and towering cedars.
The cabana overlooks an inviting infinity pool.
The three homes on the estate have been sensitively restored, upgrading systems while preserving an authentic "patina," down to the smallest details, including electric switches, light fixtures, kitchen sinks and bathtubs and the spindles on the bannisters. Interior designer Roger L. Conant Williams, working closely with restoration architect Martin Eli Weil, supervised the restoration based on period photographs and the original blueprints using as much of the original as possible. In the process, he created an authentic turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts interior, mixing vintage appliances, original Gustav Stickley furnishings, family heirlooms and faithful period reproductions.
Although Sheryl Crow’s home base is in Nashville, over the years she has spent plenty of time in her unique Los Angeles home. Often during the holidays each house was filled with family and friends, who enjoyed the park like grounds, hiking trails, and hillside palm covered palapas.
The property is currently on the market and listed for sale for $15,950,00. The furnishings are also available, excluding the art. Myra Nourmand and Joanne Vuylsteke of Nourmand and Associates Beverly Hills (www.nourman.com) have the listing. DH