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

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