The nearby mansion of Blair’s partner, C.F. DeWitt, at 8159 Hollywood Boulevard, was no less impressive. in fact, in some ways it was more impressive. It’s setting alone is quite spectacular, built against the edge of a three-acre hillside lot with sweeping, headlong views across the entire Los Angeles basin. Like the Blair mansion, the DeWitt mansion was also done in the Italian style, but with a little more flair by Charles H. Kyson, an accomplished architect probably best known for the William C. Hay mansion in Los Feliz and the Tudoresque Administration complex at Forest Lawn.
One of the most impressive features of the DeWitt mansion is its dramatic oval entry hall sheathed from floor to ceiling in cut stone and featuring a marble floor imported from Florence, Italy. A sweeping staircase leads up to a musician’s balcony overlooking the enormous living room. Anchoring the room is an elegant 19th Century fireplace, which once warmed an Italian castle and a beautiful fountain composed of mosaic tiles commissioned specifically for the house and handmade in Italy. The principal rooms included a formal dining room, breakfast room, den, music room and billiards room. Upstairs were four master bedrooms, each with their own tiled baths, three of which featured polished crystal “fixtures” and 14-carat gold-plated hardware.
The grounds of the DeWitt mansion are equally impressive, with two detached guesthouses and an amazing grotto pool. When I first saw pictures of the pool, I assumed it was a more recent addition, but the grotto shows up, looking almost exactly the same as today, in photos dating to 1926. The estate’s camellia garden is world-class and is a living legacy of a later owner, Ralph S. Peer, who was president of the American Camellia Society. In 1959, one of the world’s largest camellia bushes, an enormous 30-foot high specimen, was transplanted into the garden from its original site in Pico Rivera where it had been planted in 1887 by noted water expert, Webster Cate.
C.F. DeWitt owned the mansion until 1936 when he sold the home in the wake of his wife’s suicide the previous November. DeWitt remarried and lived to 76, dying in February of 1946. In recent years, his former home has been renamed Park Hill and, although there have been some inevitable changes in kitchen and bathrooms, the home remains remarkably as built.