By Susan Motander
Each year a dedicated group of men and women work for months to open up a historic home as a Showcase House with the proceeds from ticket sales going to support the arts. Since January the 20 interior spaces and six external spaces have been transformed by an equally dedicated group of designers and their minions.
This year, Showcase returns to Descanso Gardens to once again transform Boddy House. Once the home of Elias Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News and who also had a radio commentary program that was broadcast from his home. The home was set on a 165-acre oak-covered ranch in La Cañada. He called this haven, Rancho Del Descanso (ranch of rest in Spanish). In the 1950s, Boddy sold the property including the house, to the County of Los Angeles. It is now administered by the Descanso Guild, a non-profit, as a garden and the house is used as a hospitality center for the gardens.
The Boddy House was built in 1939 at a cost of only $50,350 for a 12,000 square-foot home. It was designed by James E. Dolena of Beverly Hills in a style known as Hollywood Regency. Dolena was renowned for building homes for many of Hollywood’s elite in the ‘30s and ‘40s.
While keeping the built-in closets, dressers and other unique architectural details of the period, this year’s designers have brought new touches of whimsy to the gardens and updated the rooms. The kitchen, remodeled by Samantha Williams has been updated and includes 17 upgraded appliances to turn this into a wonderful catering kitchen, there is even a 36-inch solid marble farmhouse sink.
Some of the other delightful features include a cigar bar (Puff and Sip), a state of the art media room, even a Lady’s Hideaway (not to mention Boddy’s former gun room that has been transformed into a hidden study complete with bullet end brad along the shelves that replace the gun locker). One interesting feature this year is the amazing amount of willow ware cropping up in unexpected places.
The best part of Showcase House is the good it does throughout the community. The proceeds from the ticket sales go to support the arts. The original aim of the group was to support the Los Angeles Philharmonic, but the group has grown as has its mission. Now there are concerts for fourth grade students in the area. They also sponsor a music mobile that takes instruments to local elementary schools to introduce third graders to classical music by putting those instruments in the hands of the students. There is also a music competition that assists aspiring young musicians with scholarships.
But there is even more. They even have a mini-grant program that helps fund music programs of all sorts from the purchase of instruments for middle schools to choral presentations by church groups at lunchtime. These were recently awarded. Next week, this publication will review those grants.
Showcase will be open from April 21 through May 19. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday the house is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to the house and the gardens immediately surrounding it, there are also pop-up shops with 29 different vendors. There is also a restaurant and bar at the house for those who wish to partake of a bit of refreshment.
Tickets are $35 – $50 dollars depending on the time of day of the visit. They are available at PasadenaShowcase.org or by calling (714) 442-3872.