‘Day of the House’ takes a closer look at Hart’s house

Volunteer Debbie Morrison, center, shows copies of the blueprints used in building William S. Hart's house. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

The latest open house for William S. Hart’s mansion overseeing his namesake park gave visitors a chance to learn more about the methodology behind the house’s design and layout during the “Day of the House” on Saturday.

Part of the “Year of Days” series, the house will feature different aspects of Hart’s life, home and career with the help of volunteers sharing their expertise in more detail than on regular tours of the house.

“We want to dig a little deeper,” said Margi Bertram, museum administrator.

Hart sought Arthur R. Kelly to map a blueprint of what would be his home. Kelly was a prominent architect, Bertram said, but Hart also turned to the Heinsbergen Decorating Co. to incorporate the Spanish Colonial Revival style for his house. The company designed parts of City Hall in Los Angeles and painted mural inside Pantages theatres across the country.

“He did the Pantages in LA,” Bertram said. “He also did the Los Angeles Theatre and one of my favorite things there was the children’s playroom upstairs. So you could go to a movie and drop your kids off and be supervised. It was a little room upstairs and in that room, the murals were done to look like you were inside a circus tent.”

Visitors to the house had the chance to browse through and learn from copies of the original blueprints used for the house. Bertram noted that some doors and rooms, including a closet between two bedrooms, might not appear on the blueprints, for they were added during the 1957 alterations to the house once it became a museum.

“It’s so amazing to see what they built with older technology,” said Jarrett Woods, a first-time visitor to the house with his wife Alecia. “A lot of this is very much from that time and it was called generic. Looks great to me.”

It’s not entirely clear why Hart wanted his home designed in Spanish Colonial Revival, Bertram said. But with the influence of “Ramona” by Helen Hunt Jackson and the Spanish architecture of the missions inspired something typical of the region, she added.

“In many areas of the country, it tends to be more uniform,” she said. “One of the things I personally love about Los Angeles is that you can be in one block and you’ll have Spanish (style), you’ll have Tudor (style), you’ll have fairy tale (architecture), you’ll have ranch, you’ll have English cottage and they’re all in the same neighborhood, all in the same block and it works.”

The museum’s next event, the “Day at the Ranch,” will be on March 23, the day after the next open house.
For more information, go to hartmuseum.org.

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About the author

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini covers local news for The Signal. He joined in May 2018 and previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Sundial, Scene Magazine and El Nuevo Sol while enrolled as a student at California State University, Northridge, where he studied journalism and political science. He's lived in Santa Clarita since 2002.