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Inside Hollywood's Legendary Villa Carlotta as It Anxiously Awaits Renovation

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The Villa Carlotta apartment building is a romantic Hollywood fantasy come true: it was built in 1926 by Elinor Ince, the widow of early studio head Thomas Ince, who died somewhat mysteriously in 1924 after a party on William Randolph Hearst's yacht. (Hearst is rumored to have helped finance the project out of guilt; his long-time mistress Marion Davies lived in the building for a time, as did gossip columnist and yacht guest Louella Parsons.)

Architect Arthur Harvey designed a "flamboyant Churrigueresque" building on the corner of Franklin and Tamarind in Hollywood's Franklin Village, filled with hand-painted and hand-carved details, and outfitted with the most luxurious amenities of the day, including soundproofing and central refrigeration. Over the decades, as Hollywood became dirty and neglected, the paint on the beams at the Villa Carlotta faded and a more lowkey set of artists, musicians, actors, and others moved in, making the place their own, painting and decorating and creating a close-knit community, subletting as they left for film shoots or tours, under what was for years a laissez faire management and with rents kept low by the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Will this L.A. icon turn into a bohemian hotel? Read on. >>