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Enchanted Hill — the onetime site of a famed Wallace Neff home built for Oscar-winning screenwriter Frances Marion and silent film cowboy Fred Thomson — has just sold for $65 million. Listed with Hilton & Hyland, the property, which spans 120 acres on a Beverly Crest ridge, has only had three other owners since the Hollywood couple lived there in the 1920s: oil baron William Barnes, aircraft altimeter inventor Paul Kollsman and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Allen, who purchased Enchanted Hill in 1997 for $20 million, tore down the historic Spanish-style home and had planned to build a new mansion but never completed the project. He died in 2018 after a long battle with cancer and his trust put the property up for sale in October of that year for $150 million. In 2019, it returned to the market with a new price tag of $110 million. The next year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had purchased Enchanted Hill for $90 million, but ultimately the deal fell through.
Enchanted Hill — located in Beverly Hills at 2001 Benedict Canyon Drive — was most recently listed with Hilton & Hyland for $95 million. It’s not known who the new buyer is. Rick Hilton, Zach Goldsmith and Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland represented the seller.
The new owner will take possession of a sprawling development site that includes five separate lots, including a four-acre site to build a main estate, and sweeping views of the city, ocean, hills and canyons. Allen’s improvements to the property included the addition of a one-mile private street, infrastructure for utilities and two guard-gated entrances, one on Benedict Canyon Drive and one on Angelo Drive.
The listing for the property notes that the buyer could build a hilltop compound that includes “multiple guest houses, a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness center and spa, an entertainment complex, a sports arena, world-class equestrian facilities [and] vineyard and winery.”
As an agent at Hilton & Hyland told Realtor.com in 2019, “Imagine the opportunities that were available when the city was first incorporated, when people began to move up into the hills. Well, this is just like that. It’s a blank canvas for somebody to create anything they can imagine. The possibilities are truly endless.”
Back in the 1920s, Marion and Thomson’s neighbors included Rudolph Valentino and Greta Garbo, who is said to have given the property its Enchanted Hill name. Marion worked on more than 180 movies, including the Mary Pickford-starring The Poor Little Rich Girl and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and won Oscars for writing for 1930’s The Big House and 1932’s The Champ. Her cowboy-star husband purchased the estate’s first four acres for $1,600, seeking space to accommodate Thomson’s 12 horses.
According to the 2021 book, Wallace Neff: Master Architects of Southern California 1920-1940, which shows Enchanted Hill on its cover, “Neff initially designed guest and servants quarters as well as a gatehouse. The couple was so pleased that they asked him to design the main house, which Neff executed in Spanish Colonial Revival style with exterior Islamic minarets topped with finials. In the motor court entrance, the architect employed a massive rounded archway that would become one of his trademarks.” Additionally, the couple designed a coat of arms that showed a roll of film over the head of a horse as well as a horseshoe “for the good luck needed in Hollywood.” The horse stables boasted mahogany floors and the estate eventually included a 100-foot swimming pool, tennis courts, Italian gardens and an aviary. The home also appeared in Architectural Digest.
The couple’s time at Enchanted Hill was short-lived though. Wallace Neff authors Marc Appleton, Bret Parsons and Eleanor Schrader write that, “Three years after the estate was completed, Marion noticed that Thomson was limping. He told her that he had stepped on a rusty nail and that it was bothering him a little. Upon awakening with pain and a fever, he was admitted to the hospital where the doctors misdiagnosed him and he died of tetanus on Christmas Day 1928 in his wife’s arms. The next year, Marion sold the estate.”
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