House Howard Hughes and Katherine Hepburn Bookman’s Hancock Park / USA

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House & Hotel Magazin likes the Hancock Park.
Thats really special, in a city filled with the flashy and the new, Robert Bookman’s Hancock Park home is something authentic and real.
Its a old mansion with a rich history and few modern flourishes.
Designed in 1926 by Roland A. Coate, the 8,400-square-foot white stucco hacienda is a archetypal example of his drive to revive Spanish Colonial architecture, a look that would eventually become nearly synonymous with the region. The house was technologically ahead of its time; its wood gates still open and close using the original hydraulic system.
Then there’s its provenance as the former home of billionaire Howard Hughes, the founder of Hughes Aircraft Co. who lived in the house when he was romancing Katharine Hepburn and was setting the world speed record for flight.
Pass the motor court paved with California river stones and one enters a series of carefully restored, carefully decorated rooms—15 in all, excluding the guest house. There’s none of the marble and granite associated with modern-day luxury. With the exception of the expanded kitchen, everything looks as it did then, from the unpainted wood shutters to the original red octagonal floor tiles in the foyer.

To the right is the wood-paneled library where Mr. Hughes worked on creating the Spruce Goose, the world’s largest plane at the time. The now-rusty gate, built to give Mr. Hughes direct access to the Wilshire Country Club’s golf course next door, still stands, as does the lush outdoor patio where he entertained Hepburn. The home played a starring role in “The Aviator,” Martin Scorsese’s 2004 film about Mr. Hughes’s up-and-coming years in Hollywood.

While the fixtures speak of an earlier era, the decor is done in an eclectic, international style. “We see amazing houses all the time. This is the only one I would move into in a second,” says Jill Sprayregen Henkel, a set designer for the HBO show “Entourage,” which depicted the home as belonging to a young starlet for two episodes in 2007. “It is old style, old-school Hollywood, and the furnishings give it a bohemian feel,” she says, likening the home to the historic-but-hip Chateau Marmont.

It was the just the house we fell in love with,” he says. Still, Mr. Bookman procures a sheaf of papers and old magazine clippings he’s collected about the home in the Hughes era.

Representing mainly writers like John Irving and Tom Wolfe, Mr. Bookman surrounds himself with old wines and old books. One room holds his college tomes, another works by his clients and a third books he plans to read. The basement vault built by Mr. Hughes is where he keeps his 2,500 bottles of wine, mostly reds like Chateau Margaux and Colgin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. Mr. Bookman’s favorite spot is the inner courtyard, with its orange, olive and magnolia trees, where he reads scripts for hours on weekends in a large wicker chaise he calls “The Thing.” “Other people travel to get away, but this is my escape,” says Mr. Bookman. “Why would I want to go anywhere else?” Built on two-thirds of an acre, the Spanish-style Colonial was constructed in 1926 for the widow of a prominent businessman. Arriving in Hollywood, Mr. Hughes had an associate purchase the home in 1933 . The house was sold in 1945, a year after Mr. Hughes suffered a nervous breakdown, and remained virtually untouched by subsequent owners.

In 1991 Mr. Bookman bought the house, paying $3 million, because it reminded him of the home his grandparents built (and where his mom grew up) just four blocks away. While Mr. Bookman decided against making any structural changes, he hired designer Valerie Pasquiou to undo some touches he didn’t like and improve its furnishings. “The house was unusual because it was so untouched. But it felt like it needed to be brought back to life,” Ms. Pasquiou says.

Ms. Pasquiou replaced some details, substituting reclaimed 18th-century French bath tiles for black ones. She added colors she doesn’t normally use, like red and orange sofas in the living room and multi-colored fabrics in the sun porch. The result is a home with a Mediterranean, Basque and Indian feel.
Picking up balls is one of the less demanding aspects of this high-maintenance house. Mr. Bookman has a full-time housekeeper, a couple who work five days a week, a pool man and a gardener three times a week.
Nice story, mother asked “Why would you want a house like this”? the son said I can’t imagine being happy anywhere else.”

We love the story.

Living in style.

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