Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Sweet Casa of Rachel Sweet

SELLER: Rachel Sweet and Tom Palmer
LOCATION: N. Cockerham Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $9,995,000
SIZE: 6,205 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Los Pavoreales, 1926 by Wallace Neff. Spectacular Celebrity compound with star-studded provenance. Long private drive leading to an enormous motor court and grand entry. The public rooms are renowned for their grand scale as is the truly impressive master bedroom with period bathroom, 2 junior bedroom suites, and family room. The grounds feature rolling lawns, play house, and and ascending garden with spectacular city views. The detached guest house has two bedrooms, 2 baths and a kitchen.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Dotted around the hills, flats and rugged canyons of Los Angeles are a a number of primo and pricey properties that are often (and usually) passed from one celebrity to another. Once such property is Los Pavoreales, the Los Feliz compound currently owned by singer turned actress turned boob toob producer Rachel Sweet and her man-mate Tom Palmer who recently hoisted their hacienda style home on the market with an asking price of $9,995,000.

Your Mama realizes that few of the children will know a damn thing about Miss Sweet so we're going to provide y'all with a brief (and incomplete) synopsis of her life in the entertainment bizness. Miss Sweet got her celebrity wings in the mid-1970s as a not particularly successful 12-year old country music crooner but quickly switched to pop music in the late 1970s. The Ohio born gal wasn't much of a mainstream hit in the music world but she did earn some attention for her teenage tart image which was far more shocking back in 1980 than it is today when 13- and 15-year old wannabe starlets are regularly seen teetering around town in towering heels and frightfully low cut dresses that barely hide their mosquite bite boobies.

Anyhoo, in the late 1980s young Miss Sweet had a very short lived (but cult hit) program called The Sweet Life. She also wrote and sang the title song for 1988s Hairspray, John Water's high-larious entree into mainstream movie making. (That would be the first and better Hairspray, the one with the dee-voon Divine, not the more sanitized remake with heterosexual actor John Travolta working his drag as Edna Turnblad.) In the 1990s, Miss Sweet wrote a number of songs for Mister Waters' Cry Baby and scored a bunch of itty-bitty roles on boob-toob programs like Seinfeld until the late 1990s when she switched to writing and producing successful sitcoms. Her credits include producing Sports Night, writing and executive producing Dharma & Greg, and writing and executive producing George Lopez, a program we think is about as funny as a cardiac arrest but makes Your Mama's big daddy laugh and laugh and laugh.

Now then, let's get back to the real estate. Property records reveal that Miss Sweet's Spanish style manse on N. Cockerham Avenue (which records also show as having a N. Vermont Avenue address) was designed by eminent architect Wallace Neff in 1926. Your Mama is not sure who inhabited the house after it was built but we do know that in August of 1996 Kaballah Kween Madonna Ciccone purchased the property for $2,690,000. The Kaballah Kween owned the property until November of 2000 when she sold to known Scientologists Bodhi and Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) for an even-steven $4,000,000. In 2003, the peeps at People revealed that when K.K. sold the house to the Elmans there was no central air-conditioning system (which must have been murder on her hair) nor was there a sprinkler system. Apparently, rather than install sprinklers, K.K. just hired someone to hand water the damn lawns. Your Mama can only hope both of those issues have since been corrected because come August it is hot in Los Feliz and for ten million clams we do not want to spend the afternoon sweating like a sow in the sun.

As far as Your Mama can tell from our research on the interweb, Mister and Missus Elfman owned the house until April of 2004 when they sold it for $4,700,000 to the spectacular actress Katey Sagal (Married With Children, Furturama, 8 Simple Rules) and her doll fearing writer/producer huzband Kurt Sutter. The Sagal/Sutters only owned the house until August of 2005 when they reportedly sold it for $5,510,000 to our Miss Sweet and her man-mate Tom Palmer.

Somewhere along the way, perhaps even by Mister Neff himself, the wonderfully private 1.81-acre property was given the name Los Pavoreales, which as best as Your Mama's barely bilingual brain can figure translates to The Peacocks. Property records show the Sweet casa measures 6,205 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 6 poopers. However, listing information indicates there are 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. We're not sure why the discrepancy but it may or may not have something to do with the detached 2 bedroom and 2 terlit guest house.

The imposing but not pretty front gate opens to a long curving drive that gently rises to a massive motor court with the guest house on the left and the entrance to the main house on the right. For the record, Your Mama thinks the motor court could use a fresh paving, but that's none of our beeswax and we digress. Slim brick paths pass under some pretty shade trees and lead to a brick courtyard big enough to host a hoe-down and the formidable front door. The public rooms include a leviathan living room with a fireplace and wood floors and a tile floored and banquet hall sized dining room both with very high and intricately beamed ceilings. Beyond the living room is an all red room with a fireplace and peaked wood ceiling which listing information refers to as the library/study. All three of the rooms show a remarkable restraint in the day-core which has created a sort of maximal minimalism.

The kitchen has retained its original honey-comb shaped saltillo tile floor but has been kitted out with new fangled stainless steel cabinetry and counter tops that would make our housegurl Svetlana's hair stand on end. The work island, lit by two pineapple shape fixtures, includes a convenient vegetable sink and a dark and dee-lishus wood counter top (perhaps it's teak?) which along with the floor manages to keep this surgical suite-ish kitchen from feeling like, well, a surgical suite or the back room of a butcher shop. An adjacent family room features a third fireplace (there are three according to listing information) with a flat screen tee-vee mounted above the minimal fireplace surround, a couple of vintage looking iron chandeliers and a pair of arched doorways filled with spectacular iron and glass doors that pivot open to the yard.

The grounds includes a commodious covered patio with a complicated paint scheme on the beams, long stretches of lawn that roll and slope down the hill towards the front of the property and at the back, up the not particularly well cared for terraces that climb up the hillside, a simply shaped shingled play house sits on a cantilevered platform. What the property does not include is a swimming pool or a tennis court and while we may in the minority here, Your Mama wants both of these things in a ten million dollar house.

Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter wait patiently to see who buys this piece of celebrity real estate history and we wish Miss Sweet and her huzband happy trails.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Simply Beautiful

I love the idea of a playhouse - too bad it wasn't done in the same style as the main house.

Anonymous said...

I love this house. Does anyone know where additional pictures might be found?

Anonymous said...

Great house.

Anonymous said...

more pics are on the www.themls.com. Enter as a guest and search under zip code "90027"

angeleyes said...

Nice but I don't think it's priced to sell. Virtual Tour

Humphrey Repton said...

Tray Californiay! Some of the archophilic interior shots are stunning but the exterior is wanting in every category. The cast concrete (looking) courtyard fountain is less than I would expect in this price range and, really, no pool?

Anonymous said...

This overpriced McSpanshon is forgettable. A world without Mrs. Betty Slocombe and Mr. Wilberforce Humphries is barely worth living in.

Garfield said...

TheMLS listing states that the main house has 3 bedrooms and the guest house has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, so there's 3.5 baths in the main house.

Anonymous said...

no pool!?

The Preppy Pauper said...

Well children, I know taste is subjective, but you can keep you gauche Beverly Park monsters, and predictable Hollywood Hills modernist bachelor pads. This house does is it for me: gorgeous period detail, architectural provenance and a warm patina that only age can bring. Put in a pool, write a check to the big gay decorators and this home could totally be a tasteful show place.

OChousewife said...

This is pretty much what I dream about. I'd put in some sweet landscaping and a giant pool. Lee Majors would be at our first barbeque. Way overpriced but it's only money. SOLD.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful house, but overpriced. I am thinking, it's worth in the $6-7M range.

Billy said...

Did I sleep through the R/E rebound? 5.5k in late 2004 should yield about 7.7k at the peak and 6.2k , if perfect, now. Although Neff did do a great job of copying Smith.

Kissyface said...

No pool.

More amazingly, the HOUSE has no VIEW, despite the hilariously over-imaginative listing description: "The grounds feature rolling lawns, play house, and an ascending garden with spectacular city views." In other words, "hike up the steep hill at the back of the yard to see downtown."

In fact, although the lot at first seems huge at 78,840 square feet, a surprisingly small portion of that is flat land reachable from the house. And a lot of the flat land is used up in the driveway/garage arrangement. See for yourself:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/birds-eye-view-map/20809094_zpid/#birds-eye-view


Of course, the house is gorgeous. Very Raymond Chandler. One hopes the property come with a built-in femme fatale or at least with a sinister, rich dowager in the basement.

The Sweet/Palmer house doesn't have any Vermont frontage despite it's alternate Vermont address, so perhaps part of its original lot was hived off and subdivided at some point in the past. Another interesting detail about the Sweet/Palmer house is that although it is now ONE story high, it was originally built as a TWO story house. After the house was finished it burned, singeing more than a few plumas de Pavoreales, and was rebuilt as the ONE story house it is today. I don't know if Wallace Neff was involved in the rebuilding. But even if he was involved, the house today diverges quite a bit from the architect's original vision (although if Neff was involved in the rebuild the house may conform to his ULTIMATE vision).

This place is right across Vermont from the pink palace "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan and Christopher Noxon bought for "just" $4 Million just a few months ago and Mama wrote about so winningly:

http://realestalker.blogspot.com/2009/02/weeds-creator-jenji-kohan-gets-new-nest.html

Love the Sweet/Palmer house. Love the Kohan/Noxon house. Love Mama! Love Jenji Kohan and Christopher Noxon! Love Rachel Sweet and Tom Palmer! Sweet, Palmer and their broker, Barry Sloane, must have been smoking some of Jenji Kohan's weeds to come up with that $9,995,000 Million price! But I hope a line of buyers forms right away at Mr. Sloane's office and the sellers get twice that! XXXXXXXX! OOOOOOOOO!

Billy said...

Pleas multipl all above by 1000 X. I hinted I had slept hard.

Anonymous said...

Overpriced......

Anonymous said...

Kissyface - I agree a view (& pool) would be nice, but level lots usually mean you're level with your neighbors as well.

Call me unsocialble, but I'll take a nice hilly buffer zone any day.

Kissyface said...

O, yes, here are some additional tidbits. If you look up the hill at the back of the Sweet/Palmer house lot [here: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/birds-eye-view-map/20809094_zpid/#birds-eye-view] you will see there is an adjacent Mediterranean house with a multi-windowed turret/solarium on top. That turreted house is known in rock-and-roll history as "The Castle." Rooms in The Castle were let in the 1960's to many young R-'n-R greats ... such as Bob Dylan.

During the more recent 1990's period Madonna owned what is now the Sweet/Palmer house, The Castle was bought by John Paul Getty (not the "real" John Paul Getty, but a younger member of the same family). Getty commenced a wonderful, extensive, long and LOUD rehabilitation of The Castle ... which provoked big fights between Mr. Getty and Ms. Kaballa (who likes her quietude at home). Mr. Getty would not quiet down, so Ms. Kaballa moved out.

Getty still lives in The Castle. The outside looks great, although I understand he had to send back all the green onyx intended for the master bath .. which was finished in Home Depot vinyl instead. Pity, that. Sometimes even Gettys overrun their budgets and get hauled back to earth.

commentator said...

I agree with Kissyface, I've done some studying of Wallace Neff work (for fun) and typically they were built on very large parcels. I'm sure when it was built the driveway and address came from Vermont, but in later years the large lot was chopped up and sold off, which you can see by all the small lots lining the Vermont side of the house. That would also explain the large and ugly current entrance gate to this estate.

StPaulSnowman said...

Termite riddled white wooden entrance gates........"you never get a second chance to make a first impression" For this price, they should have installed some hand made wrought iron and stome gate piers........that would have employed some local masons and metal workers.

StPaulSnowman said...

make that.........stone. I apologize for not proof reading before I pressed the button. I usually only do that when there are zero comments and I am competing for number one.......just a little game!

Anonymous said...

I can stomach most of it pretty well except for the cherry red study? or whatever. Cherry red makes me want to vomit.

Anonymous said...

Lovely house with a lot of character. I remember seeing Ms. Sweet live in 1978 - she was then on the ultra hip Stiff UK record label and was getting airplay for her version of Elvis Costello's Mystery Dance. She was actually tres cool, unlike all the current day teenybopper bumblegummers.

Anonymous said...

I'll be shocked if the even get $6M, but what do i know?

Oddly the thing that would kill this house for me are the tiled floors. They're uneven (which is unavoidable) and kill my back.

Anonymous said...

"heterosexual actor John Travolta?" - do yuh think!?!

CockSearch2009 said...

Now, Mama, I'm shocked to hear you refer to John Revolta as "heterosexual".

Has Mama, along with the rest of the children, forgotten about the hunky personal trainer he spent the early 90s sodomizing?

OK, so he had a personality makeover at Scientology labs.

Maybe we should call him a "Scientolosexual".

Anonymous said...

One step off that Playhouse deck, and watch kiddies tumble into a ravine.. what's up with that?

No air-conditioning was probably a plus for Madge- she hates it. Jokes about being cold-blooded go here.. Sounds like she bought it just after Evita, the Spanish aspects must have appealed to her. It also must be the house her treacherous brother talked about in his sad dishy book.

Nice bones, but I just don't like the saltillo tiles, never have. Just me.

Kissyface said...

Another tidbit:

"Los Pavoreales" (also known as the Edward Petitfils Residence) is one of just three residences located in Los Feliz designated a "historical monument" by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission as of 2008. The others are the Victor Rosetti Residence (2188 N. Ponet Drive) and the Bruce and Lula Blackburn Residence (4791 Cromwell Avenue), both designed by Paul R. Williams. Mr. Blackburn, of course, is famous as the inventor of the rollup window screen. But you already knew that. His residence did not, in fact, stint on roll-up window screens.

Ciao bella!

Anonymous said...

Here's a city planning document outlining the application for historic-cultural monument status. Seems Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Sweet-Palmer applied. Financial or other advantage...?

http://cityplanning.lacity.org/staffrpt/CHC/11-15-07/CHC-2007-5206.pdf

Anonymous said...

p.s. There is a ton of information about the property within that link.

It's a 61-page document with historical descriptions on Neff and the house, external house photos, many close-up photos inside the house, an assessor's map of the entire neighborhood, building permit applications, scans of newspaper articles, you name it.

Although I can't be sure, I think page 47 might include a reflection of Rachel Sweet's image. It certainly looks like her.

Anonymous said...

Just dropped to under 5.

sordar joy said...
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