Bret Parsons releases latest book: Master Architects of Southern California 1920–1940: Roland E. Coate

From author and real estate professional Bret Parsons, manager of Pacific Union International’s Hancock Park office and executive director of its architectural division, comes Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940: Roland E. Coate—the second volume in a historic twelve-volume series. Co-authored with Marc Appleton, founding principal of architectural firm Appleton Partners, and author and architectural historian Steve Vaught, the book showcases the work of the Golden Era’s most important residential architects as originally featured in the 1920s and ‘30s of The Architectural Digest, including some of the earliest known photographs of the work of legendary architects.

1050 Summit Drive in Beverly, a Colonial revival estate by architect Roland Coate, was designed in 1934 for Irene Mayer & David O. Selznick. Photo credit: Nick Springett

The series is devoted to the era when oil titans, film industry moguls, bankers, and successful entrepreneurs who were new to the region hired the most accomplished and talented architects they could find. Below, get a glimpse into Parsons’ groundbreaking series and find the second volume available online, or signed copies in the Pacific Union Hancock Park office, 156 No. Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004.

The Second Volume: Roland E. Coate

In this latest volume, Roland E. Coate, Bret Parsons and his co-authors focus on one of the most admired and influential residential architects ever to practice in Southern California. In a remarkable career that spanned more than three decades, Roland E. Coate produced hundreds of exceptional designs from Santa Barbara to Bel-Air, Hollywood, Hancock Park and Pasadena that ranged from quaint bungalows to grand mansions. Coate’s ability to work in a variety of styles from English Tudor to Monterey Colonial with equal grace made him a favorite with those seeking the very best. His client list—with names like Doheny, O’Melveny, Hoover, and Hertz—reads like a “Who’s Who” of the most important and influential figures of the era.

Nonetheless, Coate is best known today as an “architect to the stars,” a sought-after designer for the elite of Hollywood with a stellar array of commissions from such legends of classic cinema as Darryl F. Zanuck, Barbara Stanwyck & Robert Taylor, Gary Cooper, Irene Mayer & David O. Selznick and Frank Capra, amongst countless others. Other celebrity residents of Coate-designed homes have included Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Kenny Rogers, Danny Kaye and fashion icon Tom Ford. The Coate-designed mansion in Hancock Park of aviator/film producer/oil magnate Howard Hughes remains one of the most famous houses in Los Angeles.

The Discovery Process

Co-author and renowned architect Marc Appleton of Appleton Partners notes “These nearly forgotten architects needed to memorialized, since their work is quickly disappearing. That’s the purpose of the series Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940.” The authors included numerous of-the-era photographs and documented the exteriors and interiors, as well as house details and lists of previous owners.

Researching Coate’s life, co-author and architectural historian Steve Vaught says he found the details of the architect’s projects fascinating. “Coate’s work became so renowned that he was sought after for residencies outside of his Southern California base, even bringing uncommon style to otherwise rustic ranches in Arizona and beyond. He was hailed as a virtuoso of Spanish, Mediterranean, and other romantic revival designs, and was often termed the “father of Monterey Colonial Revivals.”

Bret Parsons notes, “A Coate home in Hancock Park recently sold for more than $5 million, and was only on the market a few days. Buyers have always been willing to pay a premium for the old-world craftsmanship and charm of a home by Roland E. Coate.”

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