clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 10 Weirdest Things About Dov Charney's All-Concrete Garbutt House In Silver Lake

New, 10 comments

American Apparel head Dov Charney lives in a very strange house overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir--it was built by old-timey LA tycoon Frank A. Garbutt, who, like Charney, was both an entrepreneur and a lightning rod for controversy (toward the end of his life, he took a "militant" stand against unions). (But, as KCET points out in their look at the house, Charney "stands for seemingly everything Frank A. opposed.") The house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987 but isn't open to the public, which is a shame, since there is so much a docent could say about this gray beast:

-- It was built between 1926 and 1928 by Frank A. Garbutt, who helped bring the LA Athletic Club into existence, founded AAA, and in his spare time, occupied himself on inventions like "a better chewing gum than Wrigley's and soapless detergent."
-- It was built out of solid concrete because Garbutt was worried about floods and earthquakes, and was terrified of fires. The first floor was "entirely travertine."
-- No, really, even the roof is solid concrete, there are no fireplaces in the house, and the doors are made of reinforced steel. He was very afraid of fires.
-- It welcomes you at the door with a giant middle finger in the yard, aimed right at LA.
-- Its 20-plus rooms are used as a "dormitory" for American Apparel employees when they visit.
-- Several horror films have been filmed at the house, including one about "a haunted house on the site where a woman was put to death as a witch 300 years earlier."
-- Also, in reality, the house is totally haunted. Reported hauntings include a ghost sighting by a security guard who subsequently quit and a doorknob that suddenly fell off, trapping a film director.
-- It doesn't exactly have a design style--the most that can be said is that it's "built in an irregular building plan and is designed in an eclectic manner."
-- It underwent a renovation in the 1980s that was documented in some amazing examples of early video that look a little like a horror movie themselves.
-- In the mid-sixties, the house was almost demolished to make way for condos or a huge cluster development a la Park La Brea. The only thing that saved it were intense protests by neighbors.
· The Garbutt House in Silver Lake: Concrete Mansion that Capitalism Built [KCET]
· An 80s-Era Look Around Dov Charney's Concrete Mansion [Curbed LA]