Completed in 1970, the Singleton Estate is the last major work of prolific Southern California architect Wallace Neff. The expansive residence and landscaped grounds are located on seven acres in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of West Los Angeles.
The Singleton Estate is an excellent example of the French Revival style. Though built decades after the the period typically associated with Period Revival architecture (1920s through the 1940s), the style reflects the grandeur and aspirations of the original client.
The residence was built for Dr. Henry E. Singleton, the co-founder and former CEO of Teledyne, Inc., one of the nation's largest conglomerates. At the height of his career, Dr. Singleton commissioned Wallace Neff, Thomas Church, and Philip Shipley to design the opulent estate, including the two-and-a-half-story house and the lushly-landscaped grounds.
Key elements of the Singleton Estate that express the French Revival style include its horizontal orientation, relaxed symmetry, steeply-pitched hipped roof, prominent chimneys, brick veneer, French doors, and hipped dormers. The grounds feature a tennis court, man-made pond, swimming pool, granite walkways, rolling lawns, manicured gardens, and a variety of mature tree species.
Born in 1916, Dr. Henry E. Singleton was a pioneering engineer and mathematician, known primarily for his contributions to aviation. Along with his colleague George Kozmetzky, Dr. Singleton formed the Los Angeles-based Teledyne in 1960.
Between 1961 and 1969, Teledyne emerged as one of the leading conglomerates in the country, purchasing 130 companies in industries ranging from insurance to aviation. Dr. Singleton retired as CEO in 1986 and lived in the Holmby Hills estate until his death in 1999.
A decade prior to commissioning Wallace Neff, Dr. Singleton and his wife Carolyn had worked with architect Richard Neutra to design a residence on Mulholland Drive. The Singletons were ultimately dissatisfied with the house's lack of privacy and modest size, and they believed that the Neff-designed estated would be better suited to their lifestyle.
Neff, who practiced in Southern California from 1919 to 1975, was known for his early adaptations of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, though he designed in various Period Revival styles throughout his career. He modeled the Singleton Estate on one of his earlier projects, the 1938 French Revival style Joan Bennett House.
The estate also features designed landscapes by noted landscape architects Thomas Church and Philip A. Shipley. Church, known as the father of modern landscape design and the "California Style," was responsible for more than 2,000 private gardens throughout the country. His work benefited from thoughtful site planning, which enabled viewers to discover key landscape features from multiple vantage points.
Church, who was based in San Francisco, worked closely with the Los Angeles-based Shipley on the design for the Singleton Estate. Their cohesive landscape carefully balanced the grandeur of the residence, including appropriately scaled terraces, thoughtful view corridors, the creation of livable outdoor spaces, and the incorporation of mature trees.