LAUREL CANYON—I was on the hunt for the home of Charles Harper.  I had seen a 1898 picture, with Mr. Harper in the foreground.  Behind him is a monster two-story Victorian summer home. The lemon orchard is at the mouth of Laurel Canyon on Hollywood Boulevard.  Charles began as a tinsmith and became the owner of Harper, Reynolds & Co. a successful hardware store at 100 Main St.  He was the father of A.C. [Arthur Cyprian] Harper, the Mayor of Los Angeles [1906-1909]. The New York Times reported that Harper resigned to thwart a recall effort ”“ fueled by allegations of dishonesty “other resignations are expected.”

I’d been thinking the picture was of the mansion on the corner of LaurelCanyon and Selma Avenue.  Over the years, I had watched the house alternatively become dilapidated and repaired.  Was it a possibility that this house was over 100 years old?  So I zoomed down the hill. It was probably on the old Harper orchard, but did this new house stand where the old one did?

The house has a history which fires the imagination.  The lot is 14,989 square feet, located on a tract named Cielo Vista Terrace. The City’s records confirm that the house at 8050 Selma Ave. was indeed built in 1924.  The first documented mention of this house was on October 22, 1939, when it was listed in the LA Times for sale at a “Sacrifice” – The Most Beautiful Home inLaurel Canyon ”“ then described as a bungalow with a gray roof, surrounded by giant oaks and sycamores.  The owners “in absent” were selling the house and furnishings for half the true value.  The nine-room mansion then pops up in 1942 as the home of Perce Pearce.  Who you ask? ”“ just the director of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”  Mr. Pearce began his career as a cartoonist, was lured to Disney and became the director of important films including Snow White, where Mr. Pearce served as the model of “Doc,” one of the dwarfs. He also directed “The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men” and “Fantasia.”

In 1954, the new owners of 8050 Selma Ave. were the Deitrichs.  Paul Deitrich had been active in Los Angeles City politics serving on the new Los Angeles City Airport Board.  His bio indicated he was the owner of a motion picture theater (maybe it was several). He had been a well connected real estate developer and Board member of the Ventura Boulevard Chamber of Commerce, whose members where responsible for the development in StudioCity, Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks in the 1920s and ’30s.

I got out to inspect the house and I saw a brass placard: “The Hemingway House, built in 1924.”  Well there’s a surprise. No one seems to know why, but I have some ideas. The infamous Garden of Allah was only a few doors down. Ernest Hemingway lived there during the filming of “The Spanish Earth,” in 1926 Hemingway had published “The Sun Also Rises” and he returned to Hollywood for several openings. I’m willing to bet that Hemingway found himself as a guest at the 8050 Selma Ave. mansion at some point during his stay a few doors away.  My friends think it was named the Hemingway House because he might have slept there, like the placards all over the East Coast that claim “George Washington Slept Here.”

I’m betting that this is the original 100-plus-year-old house [dating back to before the city kept accurate records] albeit after lots of remodels and that Hemingway was a guest.Whose guest remains a mystery to be solved.