The stretch of Fountain Avenue between Crescent Heights and La Cienega is studded with a number of elegant apartment complexes constructed during the high-flying early days of the movie industry, but undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching is El Palacio. Completed in 1931, El Palacio was built by William R. Hauptman, one of the earliest developers of multi-family residences in West Hollywood. Upon its opening, Hauptman made the grand gesture of formally dedicating the Spanish-style complex to the then-newly elected president of Spain, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora. (Evidently, this was a favored marketing tactic; three years earlier, Hauptman had similarly "honored" the Emperor of Japan with a dedication for his Japanese-style Lotus Gardens complex.) The Los Angeles Times obligingly covered El Palacio's dedication ceremony, noting that:
Sadly, those soundproof floors and walls may have contributed to the undoing of resident Georgette Bauerdorf. A 20-year-old oil heiress and volunteer hostess at the Hollywood Canteen, Bauerdorf was brutally raped and murdered in her two-story El Palacio apartment on October 12, 1944. Cleaning staff discovered her floating face down in her bathtub with the water still running, indicating the murderer had been on the scene not long before. He was never caught.
Other El Palacio residents included Marilyn Monroe, who crashed for a spell in the two-story unit belonging to her mentors John Carroll and Lucille Ryman, and Dorothy Dandridge, who tragically passed away at the age of 42 in unit D2. Per the Movieland Directory, the building was purchased in the 1960s by plummy-voiced actor James Mason.
In September 2014, the landmark complex was acquired along with the Lotus Gardens by the Christina Development Corporation for $10.55 million. Apparently, El Palacio's new owners cared not a whit for the building's original interiors, judging by the photos in an ad that popped up this week on Craigslist. Per the listing, now available is a "spacious and renovated" apartment with "high ceilings, hardwood floors, built-in home security system, brand new tiled bathrooms, fully built out closets, in unit washer/dryer, French windows and new kitchen appliances." Monthly rent for the starkly minimalist one-bedroom, one-bath unit is—better sit down for this—$3,795.
· $3795 / 1br - Renovated Apartment in Historic Building [Craigslist]
· Renters Week 2015 [Curbed LA]