David Silverman of L.A. House Histories

The attorney-turned-historian will research your home and create a one-off book that celebrates its past. 

We were so excited to read the Los Angeles Times story on house historian David Silverman (who has also featured in AD, the New York Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Christie’s International Real Estate – seems everyone is curious!) that we wanted to know more about him, too. Passionate about architecture, David will research your home and create a bespoke book about its history. Pretty cool, right? Commissions are coming in from relators and homeowners—who wouldn’t want to know more about the roof over their head?—and he’s also now available for presentations on his work. Thus far he’s done books on Frank Sinatra’s Holmby Hills property and Shirley Temple’s Brentwood home, and many more. Read on to learn more about who David is, what he does and the places he loves most in Los Angeles.

 David Silverman outside of one of the many home’s he’s researched. David Silverman outside of one of the many home’s he’s researched.

SD: We know some projects are being kept under wraps but what are some of your current homes you’re working on?

David Silverman: A Beverly Hills home built in 1933 by David O. Selznick and his wife Irene (daughter of Louis B. Mayer), later owned by Sammy Davis Jr. and then Ed McMahon. A 1937 Holmby Hills house that was the epicenter of Hollywood dinner parties for decades, the William and Edith Goetz house (she was the other daughter of Louis B. Mayer). And the Chemosphere, John Lautner’s octagonal house on a 30-foot high pole, in the Hollywood Hills.

 Silverman’s book on the Frank Sinatra house—and a peek inside the book, below. Silverman’s book on the Frank Sinatra house—and a peek inside the book, below.

SD: What are a few of your design must-sees or must-dos around the city?

David Silverman: There are some terrific historic buildings that also offer iconic views of LA from striking locations: the Stahl House in the Hollywood Hills, Adamson House in Malibu, and the observation deck of LA City Hall. Locals can make it a goal to visit all dozen or so historic homes in LA that are open to the public. And a visit to Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage, is a must.

SD: What neighborhood is home for you, and any favorite eateries?

David Silverman: I live in Brentwood, so I like eating at Pizzana, Reddi-Chick in the Country Mart, and Yogurt Shoppe in Brentwood Village.

 OJ Simpson wasn’t Rockingham’s only famous resident—Shirley Temple called the street home, too. OJ Simpson wasn’t Rockingham’s only famous resident—Shirley Temple called the street home, too.

 The book David created on the actress’s home. The book David created on the actress’s home.

SD: What do you think are some of L.A.’s most interesting neighborhoods right now, especially from a historic architecture standpoint?

David Silverman: Los Feliz and Whitley Heights are filled with 1920s and ’30s homes that have so much Old Hollywood character.

SD: Who are some of the architects or designers you’ve come across in your research that you think warrant greater acclaim?

David Silverman: Architect Sumner Hunt designed the Doheny Mansion, the Ebell Club, and some beautiful LA homes. He designed the Holmby Hills house that was the subject of my first book. Tony Duquette and Billy Haines are two interior designers that are already acclaimed, but I’ve been reading a lot about them lately, and I would love to travel back in time to visit the homes they designed.

 The famed Chemosphere house by architect John Lautner, is one of Silverman’s latest research projects. Image via  Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times  The famed Chemosphere house by architect John Lautner, is one of Silverman’s latest research projects. Image via Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times

SD: What are some of your favorite books or resources to recommend to readers who want to learn more about L.A.’s architectural history?

David Silverman: Sam Watters’ two-volume set of coffee table books: Houses of Los Angeles. Visiting the sites in Richard Alleman’s Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie L.A., will uncover historic architecture as well as the stories behind the buildings.

 

Now you’re in the know. To learn more, check out LA House Histories.

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