The Best of Everything
426 N. Bristol Avenue, Brentwood
As of May '04, major renovations were being done to Joan's old house on Bristol. From the findadeath.com site:
And a February '05 renovation photo, courtesy of Des:
And the final result: Two shots from December '06, courtesy of Joel W. Marsh:
Interior Renovations to 426 N. Bristol, Spring 2006
Above: Joan's former living room.
Left: The entrance to what was once Joan's dressing room. Right: The remainder of the dressing room itself.
From the upstairs, looking down the staircase.
Above: Chris W. inside the Brentwood living room during renovations, 2004 or 2005.
July 2005: Here is an account from Brenda, who managed to surreptitiously visit 426 N. Bristol:
I went out in the garden [at Brenda's own home] and there were all of these gardenias blooming...I put them all in a bowl of water and suddenly I recalled reading how Joan's staff would prepare for her arrival home by putting out bowls and bowls of gardenias.
Later today, I was down on the beach and somehow felt compelled to drive over to Joan's old house. Now, I haven't driven over there for years...someone or something was pulling me over there. I just kept thinking over and over...have to go see Joan's house...Joan's house.
So...I pull up and I don't remember the address, but I just tune in and voila...there it is...and it had a construction trailer out front and chain link fencing and well...I was almost in tears! They are shredding up Joan's palace!! Scaffolding all over and garbage bin out front. So, I'm circling and circling to be sure that it's the right house and I remember how the yard goes alllll the way back to that back street...and yup...I figure that's the one. So get this...
I walk up to the fence and there is one low wall without chain link. Just on the street side is a rubber beach ball and on the other is a spigot with a bent arm plumbing piece on it. So....as if by force...by chance...no...it must have been planned...it was too perfect...I put my right foot on the beach ball and stepped right over the wall placing my left foot on top of the spigot - my foot landing like Cinderella's into the slipper. And like that, I was in Joan's front yard!
I walked along the side on the scaffolding and next thing I know I'm in her backyard...with the old white wrought iron fencing that used to be in front of the old pool twisted and bent into the ground...I almost started crying...I could feel anger welling up inside of me. The whole time I was thinking...this place is sacred! Don't they know...I could FEEL Joan...I became so angry. No more pool...they filled it in...and there is a HUGE wall dividing the yard. And in front of the yard was the worst atrocity of all. Leeza Gibbons' children's play swing set (she used to live there...maybe still does and is the one who is remodeling) with their names carved in the side stating it was their "castle." Oh...the indignity of it all!
So then, I turn and see that all of the back doors are wide open...so I step inside and yes...I walked all through Joan's house. I saw everything. It was like a dream come true...the kitchen just like in the movie...the grand room...the screening room with the paneled walls...it was all still there! The grand sweeping front staircase was no longer there, but all of the finishings had been ripped back to their original state...the carpets that JOAN trounced on...the balusters...the wood moldings...the hard wood floors. It was all there. I walked over that entire house and saw her bedroom...I was shaking. I could feel her power...the intensity and felt...no, I KNEW, that she had called me there today. How else would I ever be able to get inside of that house?
And then I tried finding Tina's room and the infamous blue tile in the bath, but no luck...it had all been remodeled. Most of the downstairs I believe was in the original form but upstairs I'm not as sure. What made it surreal was I wasn't sure if I was really in her house as I couldn't recall the address. But I was pretty sure I was. My mind was racing the whole time. I couldn't really relax and enjoy it...I felt all of these energies come over me all at once. It was so very intense. You could smell the musty age of the place. I just kept thinking...this is where Joan lived...this is where it all went d-o-w-n.
My heart was racing...a million miles a minute. All of these images flying through my brain...Joan in her robe...Joan with Clark...Joan with Tina...it was too much. Much too much
Then, I heard voices in the neighbors' yard and panicked. I found a side door and slipped out and back onto more scaffolding to the front...I kissed my hand and touched the front gate and whispered, "I love you, Joan..."
Before I walked in...I for some reason felt compelled that week to put some scrap paper in my car that I would have normally thrown out, thinking, "you never know when you might need to leave a note..." So, I grabbed it and wrote on it:
"This was Joan Crawford's house. She is very, very angry."
I don't know what compelled me to write that. But I did and I put it on the door of the construction management trailer out front.
But of course I didn't leave without taking something...can you guess what it was...????
A rose from the infamous rose garden out back by the pool...the one she axed down. And of course, it's now in the bowl filled with gardenias...right in the center. One beautiful orange red rose...just like her lipstick color she wore.
Ahhh...maze --ING!! I feel compelled to go back again tomorrow, but am a little fearful...just feel lucky I was able to get in at all. I am trying to burn the images in my mind so I won't forget all that I saw. It was just too much and am still trying to process it. The built-in shelves from the living room are still there...I ran my hand over the top of one of the shelves imaging that was or might have been where Oscar sat.
So. Poor Joan..her house a shambles. I wonder if her ghost is there? I sure felt some presence very strongly. It was very emotional for me to be there. I don't know if it was just my excitement or what, but I want to believe I was guided there for a reason.
When I came home, I ran to the stationery that I have on the wall on which one of her letters is written...sure enough, it was 426 N. Bristol. That was the house I was in!
April 2012 (Thanks to John B.)
February 2013 (Thanks to Dan S.)
The Best of Everything