Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Faires and Matenopoulos Leaving Wolf's Lair

SELLERS: Debbie Matenopoulos and Jay Faires
LOCATION: Durand Drive, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $7,500,000
SIZE: 5,485 square feet, 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Wolf's Lair–One of Los Angeles' architectural icons. 3 acre walled & gated castle compound. This is a truly incredible one of a kind property with views of Downtown, Griffith Park Observatory, Catalina Island and the Hollywood Sign. 3.3 acres. 8 bedrooms & 6 bathrooms. Main house built by L. Milton Wolf–Hollywoodland developer. Guest house by architect John Lautner. Heart shaped pool, pool house, cabana & a 1920s speakeasy.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The other day Your Mama was perusing through the digital pages of Curbed LA and noticed a wee post about an historic and storied Norman style "castle" located high above Los Angeles' Beachwood Canyon that has come up for sale with an asking price of $7,500,000. What the posting, surprisingly, did not mention is that the 1920s era compound, called Wolf's Lair, is currently owned by major music executive Jay Faires and his wife, television talking head Debbie Matenopoulos. The children will recall, of course, that back in 1999 a young Miss Matenopoulos was unceremoniously axed from her seat on that gawd awful gabfest The View. She currently co-hosts E!'s dishy Daily Ten program. It may be a step down, but at least she doesn't have to deal with big bad Barbara Walters.

The castle compound was originally built in the late 1920s by a man named L. Milton Wolf–hence the name Wolf's Lair, natch–who was one of the three developers of Hollywoodland, a 1920s upscale housing tract located in the hills at the northern end of Beachwood Canyon. The mammoth metal letters of the famed Hollywood sign were first erected as a rather lurid but very successful advertisement for Mister Wolf's development. In fact, the sign originally read "Hollywoodland" and was covered with 4,000 flashing electric light bulbs that could be seen all the way from the shores of faraway Long Beach. In 1949, the "land" part was removed from the signature sign and, voilá, a Los Angeles landmark was born.

All reports and discussions about Wolf's Lair that Your Mama found indicate that Mister Wolf's fantastical folly includes an exquisitely detailed main house as well as a "secret" apartment located under the 2-bedroom gatehouse/guest house where Mister Wolf famously entertained ladee friends amid a South Seas day-core that is rumored to have included a couch that turned into a bed at the touch of a button...all while wifey slept in the main house just a stone's throw away. It's also rumored that one of the turrets was designed to house Mister Wolf's pet gibbon. A damn gibbon? Pleeze. Only in Hollywood, children.

Listing information (and other reports) for the Durand Drive property reveals that although the exterior of the gatehouse retains it's castle like qualities, the the interiors were re-worked and designed by fancy and famous modernist architect John Lautner and feature staggering views over the canyons. Listing information also state that the guest house includes a 1920s era "speakeasy," believed to have been used during Prohibition when all those bizzy body ladees of temperance thought banning booze was a good idea. How wrong and silly they were and please pass Your Mama another gin and tonic. It's unclear to Your Mama whether this "speakeasy" and Mister's Wolf's den of carnal cuckolding are one in the same or if they are two separate spaces. If anyone would like to clear that up for Your Mama we'd be happy to amend our discussion here.

Listing information does reveal that the heart shaped and black bottom pool–there's a delicious irony there, isn't there children?–is complimented by a pool house and cabana and altogether there are 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms on the property. Other rooms and amenities include 2 fireplaces (one in the living room another in the guest house), a camera enhanced security system, living and dining rooms, den, family room, library/study, office and, of course, a media room.

The property, which sits high above Durand Road is comprised up of multiple lots that total about 3.32 acres with 360 degree views of local Los Angeles landmarks. Property records show that Miz Matenopoulos and Mister Faires purchased their castle-ette in December of 2002. Although we're not 100% certain, it appears the couple paid $2,900,000 for the kooky, kitchy and kompletely kool hill top compound which sits just a hop, skip and a windy canyon road from Madonna's former home, Castillo del Lago.

Other famous residents of the house are thought to include Debbie Reynolds, big ol' Marlon Brando (back before he was big), Doris Day and Efrem Zimbelist.

YOUR MAMAS UPDATE: Thanks to research queen B.S. Beaverman, the children can view quite a few photos of Wolf's Lair...although we have no idea if these photos are current or not, so we can't really blame Miz Matenopoulos for that silly and swoopy sofa in the guest house living room.

41 comments:

wreckingball said...

Oh I bet there are some interesting stories from there, especially from the Gibbon Turret.

StPaulSnowman said...

Great post Mama. I started reading with gusto as I thought this was going to be Falcon's Lair where Doris Duke died. Your post was a great read even though this looks like something from the Pale Lady"s backlot. Gothic arched windows do not a Norman castle make.

Alessandra said...

I sort of love it.

No, scratch that. I definitely love it.

Anonymous said...

"kooky, kitchy and kompletely kool" is a total understatement. I Love, Love, Love this place, and can't imagine why they're parting with such a unique, historic, and desirable landmark, and on 3+ acres to boot. Rarely does a celeb's choice in real estate make me drool. I'm looking at the proverbial Blue Moon, and it's sweeet.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:35 I agree - LOVE it and can't understand why they're selling it. It's kind of a bad time to sell. Although that's what I thought last summer when I sold my house and now I'm glad I didn't wait.

bentley said...

Totally cool - awesome pedigree, location, VIEW.

What a unique place. I hope some interior pics turn up.

PCH, any chance of a midday B&E for the kids? You know, Pedro the "pool guy" kind of thing?

Anonymous said...

Mama, great post. I've see the interior of this house a few times on tv when Ms.Mat has given tours. It is very nice inside as well.

lil' gay boy said...

Great history, a Lautner guesthouse, and dual love nests for various "love monkeys" to boot!

What more could you ask for?

Why on earth are they selling?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, why do at least half the sellers featured here sell? Two words: Dee and Vorce.

Bridget said...

i am in love with this place!

pch said...

Good one, Bentley.

I've always struggled with liking the idea of Wolf's Lair better than the actuality. I mean, who would object to a fanciful ridgetop mansion steeped in Hollywood lore and filled with fun stuff like secret passages and hidden speakeasies? But. It just doesn't come together for me. The shape of the retaining wall along the road is clunky and weird, not at all picturesque, and the siting of the structures is also -- to an extent -- clumsy.

In person it feels -- to me -- like Graceland, where everything surrounding the main house seems to have been built in a completely haphazard fashion. I couldn't live here because I'd want to rearrange everything, and that would be a crime since it's primo Hollywood history. And I know I'm in the minority, so it will live on, as it should.

eddie from pdx said...

You know, with that type of pedigree, history, and general awesomness (hey, it's a word) it seems to be underpriced, considering what we've seen on this site for more money.

And if they are getting a DEE-VORCE, it's sad. Especially that they are losing such a cool home.

Parker said...

Very cool. And eddie, I agree about the price.
I personally wouldn't want to live here (I'm not quite the castle type) but I'd love to be friends with someone who does because it seems like a cool place to hang out. I enjoy a good house history too.
Aside from the prospect of divorce, perhaps they want something a little more convenient?

Viva! said...

Love it. So cool. They don't build 'em like that anymore!

Anonymous said...

I figured this house would have been trashed by this blog but I figured wrong. I think this place is very cool.

Anonymous said...

no go on the new font mama!

lil' gay boy said...

Anon 10:08,

Here, here - I'm also not a fan.

Anonymous said...

divorce for sure. Jay is not very nice to debbie.

Anonymous said...

I'm with PCH ...

As for the price, it's pretty fair - No way should it be higher ... It's not the Bird Streets - It's Beachwood Canyon!

Anonymous said...

Who is this guy she married to, E! can't pay that much money?

Anonymous said...

Hey - the first time I've actually set foot on a featured Real Estalker property!! I refer to it as "Castle Grayskull"

so_chic_darling said...

I want it!

sandpiper said...

I'm with PCH on the siting. It's probably a beautifully executed piece of architecture. But I'd appreciate it much more in a European setting, which is what I believe the architect tried to replicate.

Parker said...

Thanks for the additional pics, Mama. "Dungeon" comes to mind. I hate it So depressing and dark. Another possible reason for selling is perhaps she is pregnant... those grounds do not look kid friendly.
And I rescind my previous comment about the price after seeing the interior. Bring me back to bright, cheerful, open spaces!

Anonymous said...

There is (or used to be) another website with photos. The site had something to do with "castles". I seem to remember the photos being higher quality, and also there were emails written to the site owner from someone whose parents owned Wolf's Lair many years ago. The other thing is to ignore the labeling of the photo "Frank Lloyd Wright" guesthouse. That misinformation has turned up a few places. Lautner was a student of Wright and that is likely the source of the mistake.

Anonymous said...

I've actually been to this property. It's charming in that "old Hollywood" way, but it needs an overhaul. Weird layout, choppy rooms, etc. Needs a serious redo. Whoever buys it is in for a challenge.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! The post-card view of the Hollywood sign and lake views too! I'm not an LA fan, but I'd consider leaving San Diego for this place!

sandpiper said...

Mama, Thanks for the update. When ever do you rest darlin'?

Polly said...

Oh honey I'd leave San Diego for a tree house.

Anonymous said...

How much dose debbie make on the D-10 on E!?

Anonymous said...

Bet it sells for 1-2 millon less then the asking price.

Anonymous said...

Polly doesn't like San Diego? I bet she doesn't live here, I bet she freezes her ass off every winter in some po-dunk frozen tundra.....

StPaulSnowman said...

Hey, wait a minute! Some of us who freeze our asses off in the tundra every winter think San Diego is swell.
If you take away the interesting Hollywood pedigree and history, this place is still a costume fake castle. The trash cans in the link photos, however, are quite fetching.

Anonymous said...

The realtor website for Wolf's Lair is up now -

http://wolfslairhollywoodhills.com/

They also put a full page ad in the Sunday RE section.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify - Speakeasy and Tryst room are one and the same.

Anonymous said...

To the redo-crazy and "light and bright" people, please go ruin something else.

I just visited this property and it's magical. The proportions, the shaded spaces...a dream come true. This place is sensational and lots of thought was put into it. Many can't wrap their brains around it because it isn't a huge drywall box lit like an operating room. Thank GOD nobody has destroyed this place. I hope someone gets it who loves it as much as the previous and current owners have. The upstairs marble bath redo is hideous but other than that, the place is pretty intact. There are details so subtle that most people don't notice them.

The setting at the top of Beachwood Canyon with views of Lake Hollywood perfectly and deliberately framed in the windows is sensational.

This place is amazing. I'm blown away.

Minkey (aka "the Mink" ) said...

This is a beautiful house even to a little red marmossette monkey!

My name is Minkey (aka the Fabulous Marmossette Minkey), and I travel all over the world with people, and I just went here last month.

It's one of the coolest houses I've ever seen. So cool, I'm linking to it from my blog: http://www.travel-minkey.blogspot.com. Minkey Mama put your pics in my blog, and if that's not ok, go to my blog and write us there and we'll take it out.

I thought you wouldn't mind, cos you're obvsiously a fun person who likes to share cool stuff with other people, like me.

Thx for sharing, and come visit me, too!

The Minkster

Anonymous said...

what does the kitchen look like?? I sure hope its original-so many people ruin them these days

Anonymous said...

So funny you had a link to a gibbon! had no idea what it was.

floatingwild said...

Debbie Matenopoulos was on Celebrity Ghost Stories on Bio Channel. I deleted that episode but now I'm wondering if it was around the time of divorce? In the show she claims the house was haunted. She also said a neighbor told her the "home was cursed".
I Love John Lautner! I would have never guessed Lautner worked on this style of arch.

I'm taking a hiatus now from real estate- but I have access to recorded title records- FYI :-) love your site Mama!!

floatingwild said...

Ah- guest house interior!! Very Mod- Lautner.
I would love a list of people who have lived here and for how long!! I'm in SGV blocks away from another famous LA Castle)...

http://hookedonhouses.net/2010/10/26/phil-spectors-creepy-pyrenees-castle-in-alhambra/

My dad worked for MBrando at his mulhulland home and on Tetiaroa building bungalows for the Hotel Tetiaroa.

The bamboo fence described in Songs My Mother Taught Me... That was my dads idea. Xoxo.