WEHOville

The Owners (and Preservers) of WeHo’s Historic Patio del Moro Have Sold It

Mon, Jul 31, 2017   By Staff    2 Comments

The courtyard of Patio del Moro, the building designed by Arthur and Nina  Zwebell at 8555 Fountain Ave. (Photo from West Hollywood Magazine by Steffanie Walk)

One of West Hollywood’s most historic and architecturally significant buildings, Patio del Moro, has been sold.

Kevin McConnell, whose family has owned the building for 53 years, confirmed the sale today in an interview with WEHOville.com.

Brian and Jay Friedman of Friedman Capital are the purchasers of the seven-unit building. Patio del Moro was built in 1925 by Arthur and Nina Zwebell, a husband and wife team of designers with no formal architectural training who were known for their courtyard-style buildings. The Andalusian-style building, which is at 8225 Fountain Ave. between North Harper and Havenhurst, is in West Hollywood’s Harper Avenue Historic District and the Courtyard Thematic District.

Interior of an apartment at Patio del Moro (Photo from West Hollywood Magazine by Steffanie Walk).

In addition to its architectural significance, the building is known as the former home of old Hollywood celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Humphrey Bogart, Suzanne Pleshette and Joyce Van Patten. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986.

McConnell, whose grandmother bought the building in 1963, and his wife, Susanne, had put it on the market before but removed it when they couldn’t find a buyer they trusted to preserve it. McConnell said he is confident that the Friedmans will continue to maintain and restore the building.

“We did not get the price we wanted for it,” he said. “But it was more important to know that they will take care of it.”

While it has been reported that the new owners may convert the apartments into condos, McConnell said they intend to keep them as rental units.

The developers will make use of the Mills Act, which will reward them for restoring the historic building while maintaining its original design.

In a story about the building published in West Hollywood Magazine in 2015, local architect Gus Heully said “the excellent condition of these units today can be attributed to the sweat and love of the building’s current owners, Kevin and Susanne McConnell — whose lives share uncanny parallels with those of the Zwebells.

“He a restorer of cars and she is an interior designer and faux painter. They left their jobs when the complex came into their hands (it had been his grandmother’s) to fully restore it. The work was painstaking — layers old of paint and plaster were removed to reveal original detail and decorative inlaid tile, all of which was restored by their hands and accented by expertly painted period detail. Its elegant spaces, accented by furnishings selected by Susanne McConnell, skillfully balance the masculine and the decorative.

“Given their passion for the building, it is understandable that they took it off the market when they couldn’t find a buyer with a similar mentality.”

Each of the seven units has its own name and character — Villa del Rey Moro, La Casita, Casita para una Estrellita, Casa del Sol, Patio del Fuente, Casa del Orienta and Casa del Alegria. In his story, Heully described them as “ highly three dimensional, with two-story spaces punctuated with Juliet balconies and intertwined private terraces and patios that create a variety of communal and fully private outdoor spaces.”

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2 Comments

  1. Rudolf MartinTue, Aug 01, 2017 at 1:48 am

    a huge thanks to the McConnells for everything they’ve done for this beautiful building!

  2. Authentic PreservationTue, Aug 01, 2017 at 9:17 am

    It’s troubling that given the resources of the Friedman’s, the McConnell’s did not get their asking price for this gem. At first thought I thought the Friedmans might have the passion of Richard Jenrette who has obtained a collection of notable historic properties back east. A promise with no guarantee can unfortunately be naive, wishful thinking or a bargaining chip. Time will tell. Real estate is now primarily blood sport.

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