History of Holmby Hills

Joyce Rey is the leader in Beverly Hills Luxury Real EstateI found this history on the establishment of Holmby Hills very interesting.

The street lamp on this page was created in the 1920’s by the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting exclusively for the Holmby Hills neighborhood. You can tell you are in Holmby Hills by just looking at the lamps. For more information about the street lamps in Los Angeles visit the George A. Eslinger Street Lighting Photo Gallery.

Holmby Hills was laid out on 400 acres of the original 2,000–acre Wolfskill Ranch, which the founder of the Broadway department stores, Arthur Letts Sr., had bought for $100 an acre. The community was bordered to the west by Beverly Glen Boulevard, to the east by Beverly Hills and straddled what is now known as Sunset Boulevard. Zoning was implemented to guarantee large lot size, and electric and telephone wires were buried beneath the tree–lined treets to help preserve the landscape. Letts chose the name “Holmby Hills”, deriving it from his birthplace, a small hamlet in England called “Holdenby.”

Arthur Letts, Sr. was also a Trustee of the California State Normal School, forerunner to the “Southern Branch of the University of California,” later renamed “University of California at Los Angeles,” and still later, “UCLA”. He died on May 18th, 1923, before he could realize his master plan for the Holmby Hills development. It was left to his son–in–law, Harold Janss, one of the two brothers who ran the Janss Investment Company and married to Letts’s daughter Gladys, to consummate the agreement to sell some 373 acres of the Wolfskill Ranch to the UC Regents for the new home for UCLA.

This decision by the Regents to relocate UCLA to the then undeveloped area of “Westwood Hills” sparked the accelerated growth of Westwood, Westwood Village, and Holmby Hills, all developed by the Janss Investment Company.

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 Ocean. When Sunset Boulevard was expanded into a four–lane throughfare, Holmby Hills was, for all practical purposes, split into North and South sections. Our Association is the grouping of the homeowners on the North side of Sunset.