Bob and Dolores Hope Estate
In June 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles businessman Ron Burkle purchased the historic Bob and Dolores Hope Estate. The Conservancy is encouraged to hear that Burkle, former owner of Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, has purchased the estate. We encourage Mr. Burkle to renew the effort to secure local landmark designation for this culturally significant residence.
Before Burkle purchased the estate, in February 2017, the City Council voted 8-2 with five absences to deny listing of the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). Councilmember David Ryu initiated designation by a Council motion. Following Ryu's motion, the City's Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) voted 4-0 with one absence against recommending designation, a minimum of 10 votes by the City Council was then required to secure the designation. Councilmembers Wesson and Krekorian cast the dissenting votes. Without protection from local landmark designation, the house, and the history it represents remains at risk from future development threats.
The Conservancy is deeply disappointed in both the final vote by City Council and the CHC's recommendation against designation, as the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate met the city's criterion for designation through cultural significance. In a city with innumerable properties associated with celebrities, the Hope Estate is unmatched in Los Angeles for its 6-decade history with a single couple associated with the Hollywood entertainment industry. Bob Hope was one of America's most celebrated entertainers of the 20th century, who commissioned this house in 1939, put Toluca Lake on the map as a high-end residential enclave, and actively shaped the estate's design and expansion throughout his lifetime.
To learn more about the CHC's action, read the final staff report and recommendation.
Notice of demolition permits requested in September 2016 by daughter Linda Hope for the garage building, pool house and “production building” on the 5.2 acre estate in Toluca Lake prompted Councilmember David Ryu, in whose district the property is located, to file an emergency motion to initiate a proposed Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designation. The estate was identified as National Register-eligible through SurveyLA.
Ryu summarized his position following the passage of his emergency motion, stating: “We’re blessed in Los Angeles to have a number of entertainers and personalities that contribute to the fabric of our diverse city. Bob Hope is one of those personalities: he is an American icon. Today’s emergency legislation gives the city an opportunity to consider the Estate’s historic designation status before it is demolished. It’s important that the city’s historic-cultural resources are celebrated and rich architecture preserved for future generations.”
The 5.2 acre estate, which was commissioned by Bob and Dolores Hope in 1939 and significantly expanded through the decades, remained their primary residence for over six decades. Bob Hope passed away at the age of 100 in 2003, followed by Dolores eight years later in 2011.
Daughter Linda Hope listed the property for sale in 2013 for $27.5 million but reduced the price and the property relisted as two parcels: a 2.3-acre parcel containing the main house and a remaining parcel containing a “home office” building.
The Conservancy believes the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate is highly significant as a rare, intact estate associated with the Hollywood entertainment industry, with a six-plus decade history owned by a single couple that shaped its design and subsequent expansion.
While the house and structures were designed by noted architects Robert Finkelhor and John Elgin Woolf, it is the estate’s cultural significance as the longtime residence of internationally known entertainer Bob Hope that makes it an irreplaceable part of both Hollywood and San Fernando Valley history.
The San Fernando Valley was once home to several large estates associated with the Hollywood elite, but they are virtually all gone (largely demolished or subdivided), and none remained under the same ownership as long as the six-plus decades of the Hope estate.
Bob Hope was one of America’s most popular and successful entertainers of the twentieth century, with a six-decade career spanning vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television and film.
Hope is also remembered for his 50-year career with the USO (United Service Organizations Inc.) from 1941 through 1991, including his live shows to U.S. troops overseas.