Larchmont Village is full of Craftsmans, Tudors, California bungalows, hacienda-style houses and traditional homes — an eclectic mix all sitting in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. Can it get more L.A. than that?
Individual entrepreneurs began buying lots and building houses here in the 1920s. Originally called Larchmont Heights after a suburb of New York City, and conveniently close to the studios, the houses were intended for people behind the scenes — cameramen, grips, and lighting and tech people, according to Jane Gilman, editor of the area's must-read weekly, the Larchmont Chronicle.
Attorney Vince Cox had been longing for a place like his hometown of Manhasset, on New York's Long Island. Then he found pedestrian-friendly Larchmont Village, which surrounds a shopping district by the same name. He paid $186,000 in 1985 for a Tudor built in 1926.
Cox, his wife and twin daughters often walk to the fig tree-lined boulevard for dinner at one of the many restaurants. He gets his hair cut by Jerry Cottone at the Larchmont Barber Shop, one of the longest-running businesses on the busy street, dating back to the late 1920s. He also patronizes the local hardware store.
"It's like Mayberry in the middle of Hollywood," Josh Brooks said. The marketing director for a Westside dot-com, his wife, Elaine, and son Asher live in a California bungalow that was built in 1927. They paid $520,000 for the house five years ago. "I know my neighbors next door. I know my neighbors across the street."
Good news, bad news
You can't beat the convenient location. As resident Cox put it, the neighborhood "is perfect for a mixed marriage: One works downtown, the other works on the Westside."
According to Natalie Neith, a local real estate agent, "You can get to almost anything you need without having to tackle a large commute or get on the freeway." And you may not need to go anywhere anyway. The neighborhood is just a spit away from the Paramount Studios lot.
Adjacent to the upscale Hancock Park neighborhood, Larchmont Boulevard businesses depend heavily on foot traffic. Dawson's Bookshop celebrated its centennial last year. Chevalier's Books provides individual recommendations. There are also restaurants, specialty clothing boutiques, coffee shops, a juice store, a video store, bagel shops, spas, an ice cream store, a pet store, a major newsstand, a confectionary that specializes in Belgian chocolates and Landis, a general store that dates back to the 1920s. Every Sunday, the farmers market is packed.
"The only thing we're missing is a charming, [small] movie theater that plays independent movies," Brooks said.
But not everything is rosy.
"Traffic is like a toothpaste tube," Cox said. "They fix one area and it squirts out another."
Brooks was instrumental in getting speed bumps on his street, hoping to slow cars that were cutting through to Melrose Avenue or Beverly Boulevard.
Larchmont Village homes are smaller than the houses in Windsor Square or Hancock Park. They tend to be one-story, 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot homes built in the 1920s, said Neith of Prudential California Realty.
On the market
Of the 680 homes in the Larchmont Village neighborhood, six are currently on the market, Neith said.
They range in price from $949,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in 1,500 square feet to $2.42 million for four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths in 3,300 square feet on an 11,000-square-foot lot.
Some Larchmont Village parents send their children to private or parochial schools.
A new public school — Larchmont Charter School — opened in September. The other public schools, which are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, include Van Ness Street Elementary, which scored 712 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2005 Academic Performance Index; Vine Street Elementary, with a score of 700; Le Conte Middle School, 613; and Fairfax High School, 648.
Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; Larchmont Chronicle; California Department of Education, http://www.cde.ca.gov .