32 SOUTHBAYDIGS.COM | 8.10.2012
BOB & L’CENA RICE
H O L LY W O O D CONNECTION:
FIRST HOME B U I LT I N T H E H O L LY W O O D R I V I E R A
W R I TTE N BY: PAM ELA CO RANT E-HANSEN
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In the early 1920s, developer Clifford Reid returned to Los Angeles from his honeymoon on the French Riviera and envisioned transporting the glamour of France’s seaside playground to closer shores. He would build his beach oasis not for aristocrats and heiresses, but for Hollywood stars. He named his development the Hollywood Riviera, and as king of the new kingdom, he built a palace for himself and his wife, Ella. Today, Reid’s Italian Revival Hollywood Riviera mansion belongs to Bob and L’Cena Rice, who take pride in their home’s pedigree and regale a visitor with tales of its storied past. “These tiles were brought over from Italy,” L’Cena says of the brilliant blue, red and marigold ceramic tiles that deck the ﬂoor of the soaring entry hall. “Mrs. Reid furnished the house, and she went to Italy and bought several pieces. Some of the furnishings she bought at the  New York World’s Fair.” Remarkably, the home contains an impressive amount of original furnishings and decorative objects acquired by Clifford and Ella Reid in the 35 years they lived there. In the grand formal living room, an immense Persian rug in pristine condition is one of three similar rugs to grace the Rice’s home. “A friend knew Mrs. Reid and she was here the day they delivered the rug,” recounts L’Cena, a former
Although the Depression thwarted Reid’s vision of movie stars living in his seaside community, old Hollywood maintains a presence in the Reid estate. On a wall of the ﬁrst-ﬂoor powder room, two small gold foil etchings bear the signature of legendary actor Lionel Barrymore, who was also an accomplished artist. The powder room, like all four bathrooms in the home, retains its period ﬁxtures and tile work. Black and gold tile, a black porcelain sink and gold foil wallpaper evoke an old Hollywood glamour and mirror the style of the Barrymore etchings. Adjacent to the powder room is the library, which, according to L’Cena, had books on every shelf when she and Bob ﬁrst bought the home in 1971. A small portion of Ella Reid’s book collection remains. “I thought it would be fun to have,” L’Cena remarks. “Her name is written in some of the books,” she says, opening a faded volume and showing a visitor a delicate, feminine inscription. The Rices are the third owners of the Reid house, and the ﬁrst to have raised children there. “Before we moved here, we were living in a 1400-square-foot tract house in Rolling Hills Estates. With three boys,” L’Cena notes. The boys had ample room to roam in the 6700-square-foot historic home. Nevertheless, L’Cena’s father “didn’t think this was a very good house to raise boys, so one Christmas
of arched doors in a ﬁligree pattern that lead from the entry hall into the formal dining room. Once again, original furniture in the dining room adds to the stately character of the home. A long wooden dining table runs the length of the room, surrounded by Spanish colonial style chairs upholstered in red damask and trimmed with beading. A lavishly carved wooden sideboard is positioned beneath an ornate, oval Venetian mirror. With a wide U-shaped ﬂoor plan, the home’s multiple windows and French doors allow plenty of natural sunlight to ﬁlter through. The wings of the house surround an ample backyard, which according to L’Cena, gets plenty of use. “It’s like a retreat,” she notes. A fountain at the far end of the yard, which she designed to complement the Italian Revival architecture, lends a tranquil air. Just off the backyard patio is an airy sitting room with the original yellow, green and rust-colored Italian ﬂoor tiles. The mint-green walls and delicate ﬂoral ceiling frescoes, commissioned by the Reids when the home was ﬁrst built, elicit a garden-like ambiance. This is the room where the Rice family celebrates Christmas and which served as the dance ﬂoor for two family wedding receptions. In a corner, an antique player piano — a gift from L’Cena’s parents — stands next to
HE WOULD BUILD HIS BEACH OASIS NOT FOR ARISTOCRATS AND HEIRESSES, BUT FOR HOLLYWOOD STARS. He named his development the Hollywood Riviera, and as king of the new kingdom, he built a palace for himself and his wife, Ella.
Redondo Union High School principal. “She said they had to bring it in with a crane, and it hasn’t been moved since.” Historical photos show the two-story home shortly after it was built in 1928, the only house atop a gentle slope overlooking what is now the Riviera Village. “We have a dispute with some neighbors down the street as to whose home was built ﬁrst,” jokes Bob Rice, a retired attorney. L’Cena continues, “Apparently the other house had the ﬁrst building permit, but this was the ﬁrst home actually built.” From the outside, the two-story manor rises above a generous lawn, its most notable feature a turret with stained-glass window strips in the center of the house. To add to the Hollywood lore, the home is a duplicate of the mansion on Linden Drive in Beverly Hills where gangster Bugsy Siegel met his notorious demise. According to Bob, their home was inspired by the same plans as the Linden Drive estate. Reid commissioned architect Mark Daniels, who played a major role in planning the community of Bel-Air, to design the home. he gave us this pool table,” she says. The pool table dominates the library-turned-family-den, but its oldworld styling complements several antique pieces dating back to the home’s earlier years. A vintage radio console, a sewing machine cabinet and even a set of heavy damask drapes look barely touched by time. Some of the vintage pieces in the house are still functional, including an original two-door GE Monitor Top refrigerator in the spacious kitchen. “I use the refrigerator at Christmas, but not all the time,” L’Cena says. “It keeps things cold, and a couple of turkeys will ﬁt in there.” A doorway off the kitchen leads into a separate butler’s pantry, which the Rices decided to keep in its original state. “Some people today would open this to create a larger kitchen, but we kept it separate because it’s wonderful for storing things,” notes L’Cena. Throughout the house, classic arches, ceiling frescoes, French doors and wrought iron detailing carry the Italian Revival theme. Because the home was far from industrial areas at the time it was built, all of the wrought iron ﬁxtures were created onsite. Among the more striking of the wrought iron pieces is a set a tidy, tall stack of piano rolls. Bob plays the piano for a reporter, and popular melodies from decades past ﬁll the house. The home’s four bedrooms are on the second ﬂoor, which can be reached via a narrow servants’ staircase leading from the kitchen, or by ascending a grand, curving stairway off the entry hall. The bedrooms are accessible from an open, u-shaped corridor that looks down into the home’s elegant foyer. Each bedroom has an ensuite bath, and the master bedroom, which is the same size as the formal living room downstairs, offers backyard views. The Rices negotiated for two years to purchase the Reid estate, which was discovered almost by accident thanks to L’Cena’s passion for Italian Revival architecture. “Bob happened to see the home in the Wall Street Journal and said, ‘You ought to go look at it, it’s something you might like,’” recounts L’Cena. “I took my mother to see it and we both loved it. Bob laughed and told me, ‘I said look at the picture, but don’t even think of buying the house.’” An impulse buy, perhaps, but neither of them has any regrets.
SOUTHBAYDIGS.COM | 8.10.2012
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAUL JONASON
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