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Paul Williams house in Brentwood gains landmark designation

A ranch-style Brentwood house designed by noted architect Paul R. Williams and threatened last November with demolition has been designated as a Los Angeles landmark.

The city of Los Angeles initiated the landmark status after Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger and other preservation-minded neighbors alerted officials to the structure's imminent razing. The Los Angeles City Council voted April 2 to declare the residence a historic-cultural monument.

The 1940 house in the leafy Oakmont section of Brentwood was built for Nelle Payton Hunt, widow of Willis G. Hunt, a paper company executive. Hunt lived in the house until at least 1954. It subsequently passed to other owners, including Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley, who, according to neighbors, used it as a guest house. 

Other residents of the exclusive area include maestro Zubin Mehta and his wife, Nancy; Rene Russo; and Eli and Edythe Broad. 

The Los Angeles Conservancy said the residence,  a smaller and more informal commission by the pioneering African American architect, apparently influenced some of his ideas about small houses and ranch houses. 

The conservancy said it should be possible to expand the house in a way that maintains its eligibility as a historic resource. The group has offered some initial concepts to the property's owner, Robert Hanasab. 

Designation as a local landmark does not ensure that a house will be preserved, but it triggers an extensive review. 



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