Hancock Park is one of the rare Los Angeles neighborhoods with equal doses of history and luxury. First developed over a century ago and located close to both Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Hancock Park is close to both the posh shopping and dining of Rodeo Drive as well as key entertainment industry HQs.
Within Hancock Park is 55 Fremont Place, a gated community of some 70 homes, many of which feature unique and aesthetic-rich histories. Early 20th Century titans of industry have called Fremont Place home, including A.P. Giannini, who founded the Bank of America as well as Gillette-founder King C. Gillette. Fremont Place was also the home of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who owned 55 Fremont Place, which has recently hit the market for just under $17 million.
Ali purchased the home—a seven-bedroom/seven-bathroom 14,500-square foot Italian Renaissance mansion—in 1979. He lived there with his third wife, Veronica, and their children Hana and Leila. The mansion was originally completed back in 1916 and sits on a 1.5-acre corner parcel that is, perhaps, the most enviable location in all of Hancock Park. “These old houses, they really occupy the best positions in Hancock Park,” observes Gary Gold, the agent who has the Ali listing. “These houses were built incredibly grandly and despite the test of time, are still as solid as ever. New-build houses really cannot compare.”
The Ali mansion is nothing if not spectacular. Its mastermind is none other than renowned Los Angeles architect John C. Austin, who’s also responsible for key city landmarks including the Griffith Observatory and Los Angeles City Hall. Beyond its European-styled facade, the property features a seemingly endless array of unique and distinctive elements across its three floors.
Chief among them is a massive stained glass window designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the eponymous jewel and glass-maker whose personal touch is rarely found in private homes. The oversized panel is set on the home’s second floor and—along with endless original stone fireplaces, crystal chandeliers and wood paneling—imbues the home with a strong sense of historic and aesthetic gravitas. “The home is filled with these little hidden gems,” Gold says. “Many of which could very well be priceless.”
The property is separated into distinct public and private areas. With its grand entry foyer, sprawling salon and circular-shaped conservatory—along with living room and dining room—the lower level was clearly made for entertaining. And the home has certainly welcomed a serious who’s-who of luminaries, including former President Barack Obama, who had been a guest at the home under its most recent owners, lawyer Michael Lawson and Mattie McFadden-Lawson. During the period that the Alis owned it, everyone from Michael Jackson to Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood came calling, according to the boxer’s daughter. Mr. Lawson, who is President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, purchased the property in 2001 for $2.5 million. With their children now out of the house, the couple is selling the home as it’s too large for their current needs.
Linked by a dramatic staircase, the upstairs features most of the bedrooms and the home also includes a pair of offices as well as a full-sized and fully equipped bar. The sprawling primary suite is anchored by its own fireplace and a column-lined deck. Outside, the property takes advantage of the plot’s sheer flatness to make for a large swimming pool, landscaped gardens, airy fountain-filled patios and pergola-covered walkways. There is also a 1,000-square-foot guest house.
The home, says Gold, is “rock solid” and has “barely budged” in the more than century since it was first built. If 55 Fremont Place is traded at asking, it will mark one of the highest-priced sales for Hancock Park, which has become increasingly popular with Hollywood elite such as Shonda Rhimes, who’s owned a series of homes there–including a 12,000-foot stunner which sold for $21 million early this year, a record for the neighborhood. Along with Rhimes, bold-namers ranging from Mindy Kaling and Ozzy Osbourne to Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have also called Hancock Park home.
“Over the past two decades, Hancock Park has come back into vogue,” says Gold. “There are a lot of exceptional houses drawing exceptional buyers.”
See below for more photos of 55 Fremont Place in Hancock Park: