Holmby Hills is a neighborhood in the district of Westwood in western Los Angeles. It is bordered by the city of Beverly Hills on the east, Wilshire Boulevard on the south, Westwood on the west, and Bel Air on the north. Sunset Boulevard is the area's principal thoroughfare which divides Holmby Hills into north and south sections. However, Holmby Hills can be recognized by its unique street lamps. In an effort to decrease traffic in the neighborhood, speed bumps have been installed on several key streets.
The development of Holmby Hills began when Arthur Letts, Sr. purchased 400 acres (1.6 km2) of the original Wolfskill ranch at $100 an acre. He called the development "Holmby Hills," which was loosely derived from the name of his birthplace, a small hamlet in England called Holdenby, and it was also the name of his estate in Hollywood. Letts died suddenly in 1923, before he could realize his vision. His son-in-law, Harold Janss, took over the project. Zoning for the community, which straddles Sunset Boulevard, was designed to accommodate lot sizes up to 4 acres (16,000 m2). The streets were named after places in Great Britain: Devon Avenue after Devon, the county in Southwestern England; Charing Cross Road after Charing Cross junction in London; Conway Avenue after Conwy in Wales, etc. In the 1920s, English-style streetlamps were added specifically for the neighborhood. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, grand mansions were constructed.
According to the Holmby Hills Homeowners Association website: "In the 1920's, Sunset Boulevard was a two-lane country road, known as Beverly Boulevard. It was renamed when it was opened through to the Pacific Ocean. When Sunset Boulevard was expanded into a four-lane thoroughfare, Holmby Hills was, for all practical purposes, split into north and south sections." The northern section is served by the Holmby Hills Homeowners Association, while the southern section is served by the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association, which it shares with the rest of northern Westwood east of UCLA. However, "[i]n 2013, the Holmby Hills Homeowners Association Board has decided to reach out to the homeowners south of Sunset (and east of Beverly Glen) to grow the Association with new members also residing in Holmby Hills having similar interests."
The neighborhood is home to two parks: Holmby Park and De Neve Square Park. The former, Holmby Park, includes two playgrounds, a nine-hole putting green called the Armand Hammer Golf Course, and a classic lawn bowling, home to the Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club started in 1927. It is located next to the Los Angeles Country Club.
The only school located within Holmby Hills is the Middle School (grades 7–9) component of the independent Harvard-Westlake School. The campus was originally occupied by Westlake School for Girls, which moved from its original site near downtown L.A. to the Holmby Hills campus in 1927. Harvard-Westlake was created in 1989 when Westlake merged with the Harvard School for Boys.
Fanny Brice (1891–1951) resided in a house built in 1938 on North Faring Road, designed by architect John Elgin Woolf (1908-1980). It was later purchased by Richard and Lauren King for US$15 million, and they set out to renovate it. However, they tore it down and rebuilt a Georgian-style mansion in its place in 2006. They listed the new property in 2013.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) lived on North Carolwood Street. In 2001, his house was demolished because of the presence of asbestos and replaced by The Carolwood Estate, owned by investor Zachary Styles. The Carolwood Estate has eight bedroom, seventeen bathrooms, a wine cellar, a custom movie room, three bars, a library, a gym, two safe rooms, a pool with a pool house, a tennis court, and a putting green.
Alan Ladd (1913-1964) lived in a 9,200-square-foot, one-story, five-bedroom, seven-bathroom house designed by architect Wallace Neff. It was later owned by businessman Gerard Sullivan from 1990 to 2012.
In 1989, Casey Kasem purchased a home built in 1954 and located at 138 North Mapleton Drive, previously owned by developer Abraham M. Lurie, as a birthday present for his wife, Jean Kasem. In 2013, he listed it for US$43 million.
In 2009, Michael Jackson (1958-2009) died in a rented mansion in Holmby Hills. The house, designed by architect Richard Landry, belonged to Hubert Guez, CEO of the clothing line Ed Hardy and his wife Roxane. It was purchased by Steven Mayer, a senior managing director at Cerberus Capital Management, for US$18.1 million in 2012.
W. Howard Lester, former CEO of Williams-Sonoma, lived in a 18,000-square-foot seven-bedroom, thirteen bathroom mansion with a wine cellar, a billiards room and a gym in Holmby Hills from 2004 to his death in 2010; the house was listed for sale in 2012.
Jon Feltheimer lived in a 6,400-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bathroom house built in 1927 in Holmby Hills from 2009 to 2011.
Jeremy Renner and Kristoffer Winters purchased an art deco-style mansion called The Reserve in Holmby Hills for US$7 million in 2010 and renovated it with the help of architect Phillip Vertoch. They then sold it for US$24 million in 2013.