Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Inside Temple’s Temple

All three of Shirley Temple’s childhood residences still stand, but none compare to the one that the Temple family commissioned at the height of their daughter’s fame. It even graced the cover of House Beautiful! According to Melissa, aka “The Colonel”:

Once Shirley rose to fame, the house in Santa Monica could not afford her the privacy she required, so the Temples purchased land in the Brentwood Park section of Los Angeles in late 1935, and construction began in March 1936. The lot measured 168' x 400', and the property ran from Rockingham Avenue all the way to Sunset Boulevard. They moved into the approximately 5,000 square foot residence later that summer. On June 30, 1936 they bought additional land to the south, bringing their property to a total of more than three acres. The main home was designed by John Byers of Santa Monica and his associate, Edla Muir.

Thanks to a previous visit and connection she had made to the current owners, Melissa was able to take me along this time when she traveled West and got a second opportunity to see Temple’s Temple.

If you compare my contemporary shot (above) with the vintage view below, you’ll see that the exterior looks virtually the same, except for one minor thing: the left-hand side is completely missing. Yup. It’s true. Gonzo. More on that later!

Here’s Shirley on the front porch with English actress, singer, comedian Gracie Fields, getting ready to celebrate her eighth birthday in 1937 with a gigantic cake for the cameras. Actually, it was her ninth, but at the time, Shirley was told otherwise.

Here’s a video clip of the occasion:

It is still hard to believe that I was actually there.

I am so glad I had my 600mm lens with me to get this detailed shot of the original weathervane:

The proud owners of this beloved property who generously opened it up to us one lovely Friday afternoon:

Recognize the door in the vintage shot below with Shirley and then husband John Agar? Other than the paint color and some different plants, all looks the same!

In this 1940 image for LIFE Magazine, Shirley descends the spiral staircase in the foyer:

There was no debutante ball for me, but I was probably just as excited as Shirley was over 80 years ago!

Same glass finial!

I was obsessed with this staircase…

AND the vintage chandelier!

Shirley in her bedroom:

How it looks today:

The homeowner is looking over the book that Melissa, Rita Dubas (Shirley expert supreme!), and I put together with the history of her home, chock full of photos, articles, and vintage floor plans:

Shirley dusts her bedroom shelf:

The same location today:

Two vintage shots of Shirley’s Playroom:

Plenty of room for play!

The room is just as impressive today, with its original wooden beams overhead:

It appeared that only one of the bathrooms in the home had the original tile. I just about died when I peaked into this one, as vintage tile gets me every time.

Shirley dances down the steps in the backyard that lead to the pool:

Still there!

Near the pool is Shirley’s glass playhouse, built and gifted by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. According to the press release of the time:

Partial partitioning provides for a miniature kitchen, bedroom and a living room. Removable doors make it possible to ‘open up’ the entire front whenever desired. A candy pole porch column and murals of storybook characters add to the fun of housekeeping.

Still there!

In this photo, Shirley assisted with the construction:

How that area looks today:

The Temples sold the home in 1951; at some point later, the owner decided to split the main house into two, most likely to make the property easier to sell. Thus, the missing section of the home shown in my earlier photos. This shot shows the portion that was removed:

The other remaining half next door and how it looks today:

What a day! The gang stands outside the entry gate as we get ready to depart:

The same gate!

Thanks to Melissa for getting me into Temple’s Temple and extra special thanks to the hospitality of the current owners!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.


Irene said...

This just blows my mind. I really appreciate those who purchase the older properties and homes of the stars and appreciate the history - not those who purchase, tear down and build a McMansion monstrosity! I recently read over on Vintage Los Angeles that Betty White's home is for sale - property only, not the house. Looks like her place will be torn down. What a shame.

Darryl said...

Pretty cool to see the now and then comparisons of locations

Anonymous said...

This is great, I remember this house, but never knew it was that of Shirley Temple.

This was in the middle of my "beat" forty years ago. I did remodel designs all around this neighborhood, including several on Rockingham and Bristol.

Thanks Dave!


Anonymous said...

Quite a special treat to be allowed inside and to share trivia related to the house to the current owners. Thanks for sharing. KS