San Fernando Valley

Oakie estate in Northridge acquired by city

oakie-house-dn.jpgI've written about this place before, here and at the Valley history site when I was still updating there regularly. The Marwyck Ranch was a thoroughbred breeding farm co-owned in the 1930s by Hollywood agent Zeppo Marx and actress Barbara Stanwyck. She built a home designed by Paul R. Williams, the first prominent African American architect in Los Angeles, and sold it to comedian Jack Oakie. He planted citrus trees and hosted parties that became made the home at 18650 Devonshire Street, just west of Reseda Boulevard, a center of Valleywood social life.

Dana Bartholomew writes in today's Daily News that the city has paid $3.35 million to acquire the estate, saving the home and ten surrounding acres from subdivision into more suburbia. It's one of the best, last vestiges of the West Valley's horse-ranching past. "It's a treasure," Councilman Greig Smith calls it, aptly. The Department of Recreation and Parks will run the home as a community rec center.

"We think it's remarkable," said Cindy Olnick, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Conservancy. "We applaud the city's stewardship of this rare resource. It's actually an oasis in the middle of the Valley.

"It's amazing it's lasted this long. It's a rare example of an old Hollywood estate designed by a very important architect."

Bartholomew graciously quotes from my book, The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb.

Photo of Greig Smith at Oakie home, Daily News/Andy Holzman

More by Kevin Roderick:
LA Observed Notes: 60 Minutes, selling the Coliseum and more
Gil Cedillo, Nick Melvoin win LA runoffs*
LA Observed Notes: Baca goes down, LAX shuffle, media moves
LA Observed Notes: Big TV news, media moves, obits and more
LA Observed Notes: Writers on the verge, Fox, the riots and more
Recent San Fernando Valley stories on LA Observed:
The Smoke House
James Dean died 61 years ago today. Now the famous gas station is gone
Two Metro lines for two different LAs
Canoga Park Memorial Day parade
The Valley's long recount
Lisker Chronicles: Bruce Lisker waits for justice
Valley Girl at 30
Tennis worth watching in Calabasas


LA Observed on Twitter