The dramatic neo-Mayan stone facade design is enough to make the house on Franklin Avenue one of the most recognizable in Los Angeles. But that is just the beginning.
Original owner artist John Sowden turned the house, built in 1927 by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, into a stomping ground for Hollywood’s elite, many of whom lived in nearby Laughlin Park. Twenty years later, the house took a turn into notoriety when the gruesome unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, dubbed the Black Dahlia, led investigators to the basement.
Now, the storied home is about to enter another chapter.
The current owner is in contract to sell to Dan Goldfarb, founder of Canna-Pet, which makes non-psychoactive cannabis supplements for animals. The house is slated to close sometime in the next two months, said listing agent Troy Gregory of Douglas Elliman.
He couldn’t confirm the final price until the sale is complete, but his client is asking $4.698 million for the 5,600-square-foot mansion. The home has been listed on and off since 2013, according to records from California’s multiple-listing service.
Its unique architecture earned the home city landmark status in 1971. Carved Mayan block work comes to dramatic points at the front of the home, which some have compared to the jaws of a shark. The imagery Wright had in mind was more like cumulus clouds, Mr. Gregory said.
A central courtyard overflowing with desert foliage sits at the center of the four-bedroom, five-bathroom home. The original owner built a raised living space off of the cloister and used the room like a stage with the courtyard as outdoor seating, Mr. Gregory said.
The current owner has converted the former theater into a dramatic master bedroom.
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Besides the landmark-worthy architecture, the public has long been fascinated with the home’s more macabre story. The prime suspect in the Black Dahlia case, Dr. George Hodel, owned the Sowden Residence at the time of Short’s unexplained death. While he was never arrested, some researchers argue it was there that she was killed and surgically bisected.
These days, the basement is laid out with a bedroom and bathroom, which a previous owner used as a caretaker’s residence, Mr. Gregory said.
On occasion big Hollywood tour buses swing by to ogle the suspected murder site, Mr. Gregory said.
For its next chapter, Mr. Goldfarb is reportedly planning to turn the property into a “cannabis oasis,” the businessman told Los Angeles magazine. He reportedly plans to hold salon-like, pot-laced retreats in the house, some even themed after the historic murder. Mr. Goldfarb did not return a request for comment.
But he told Los Angeles magazine: “Sowden House has transformative power, it is an amazing thing to experience, and we are thrilled to be its custodians and advocates.”
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