Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jack Oakie's House

As some of you know, I have been borderline obsessed with Jack Oakie's old house here in Northridge for some time now. Pretty much since I found out that it WAS Jack Oakie's house, and I'd been driving past it for much of my whole life without knowing it.

Here's a picture of the dwelling, located at 18650 Devonshire, just west of the Rydell Chevrolet:

The house is behind gates, completely obscured by trees, and perched on a bit of a hill, which is how I managed to never see it, although I certainly was curious about the property. The house itself was designed by noted African-American architect Paul Williams for actress Barbara Stanwyck. She only lived there briefly before selling the house to Oakie around 1940. Oakie lived there until his death in the '70s, and his widow lived there until her death. In 2001, ownership of the property moved to USC, to whom the property had been bequeathed.

Okay, long story short. I've been just *sick* over the fact that the Oakie land was recently sold by USC to developers. I was certain that the house would go the way of other cool historic landmarks in L.A. and just be mowed under. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I read in our local Northridge paper that the part of the land where the house stands was purchased by the L.A. Parks Dept.! One day, it will be open for tours and recreational use by the public. I am stunned and thrilled. It'll be like our own little Greystone Mansion here in the northwest Valley.

I recently came across this video here on the interwebs, in which a young man opts to hop the fence at Oakridge (that's what Oakie called it) with a video camera, break in, and film the interior. I'd be mad at the guy, if he didn't provide me with AN AWESOME VIEW OF THE INTERIOR OF JACK'S HOUSE! And it looks pretty much the same as in old photos I've seen, with green walls and weird murals and stuff. Do check it out!

Speaking of checking stuff out... My library at CSUN owns this book by Jack's wife Virginia. It's a great book, full of photos and tales of the illustrious visitors to the home.


manxlass said...

Let a girl start cataloging digital archives, and see what ensues! Good news about the parks deal; shame to see the property go to the bees!

DonnaL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DonnaL said...

Hmmmm, I feel a field trip coming on. One that involves night vision goggles and fence-jumping.

Uncle Zeke said...

Jack Oakie... now, wasn't that John F. Kennedy's wife?

Anonymous said...

I share your concerns because I'm a native Northridger. Too many celebrities living in our area homes are being 'boozed' for their land and often new home owners don't know the history of the few homes left intact to be sold in real estate market. The Oakie house has always been something of a special place. In 2010, it is the 100 anniversary of Northridge and there is talk of one of the events being help in the Oakie property and the home made into a local history & film museum. I think that grand and only hope this comes to pass.