Hangover House

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Hangover House
View of Hangover House from Ceanothus Drive. The word "HANGOVER" is stamped in the concrete retaining wall.
Hangover House, from Ceanothus Drive (2016)
Hangover House is located in southern California
Hangover House
Hangover House is located in California
Hangover House
Alternative namesHalliburton House
General information
Architectural styleModerne / Brutalist[1]
Town or cityLaguna Beach, California
Coordinates33°30′35″N 117°44′51″W / 33.509632°N 117.747628°W / 33.509632; -117.747628Coordinates: 33°30′35″N 117°44′51″W / 33.509632°N 117.747628°W / 33.509632; -117.747628
Construction started1937
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Alexander Levy

Hangover House (also known as the Halliburton House) was designed and built by William Alexander for his friend the travel writer Richard Halliburton.[2] Halliburton had first spotted the ridgetop site while riding on horseback on the beach in 1930.[3] In 1937, Halliburton stated he had purchased a house in Laguna Beach, California.[4] Constructed in 1938 on a hilltop, the house, boasting commanding views of the Pacific Ocean and Aliso Canyon, was built with three bedrooms, one each for Halliburton, Alexander, and Halliburton's lover Paul Mooney, who was also Halliburton's editor and ghostwriter.[5] Halliburton reportedly spent US$42,000 (equivalent to $760,000 in 2019) on the purchase of the site and construction of the house.[3]


Alexander drew upon European modern architecture and created flat-roofed boxes of concrete and glass. He hoped to create a house that, like the international modern spirit of Halliburton, soared above the clouds. Mies van der Rohe's work and his experimental concrete buildings of the 1920s, along with Le Corbusier's L'Esprit Nouveau Pavilion (1924–25) and his famous Villa Savoye (1928–29), influenced Alexander.[6] Concrete and steel were the main materials used in its construction; the difficulty and expense of hauling materials and labor up the hill caused the construction cost to increase.[7] Glass blocks formed part of the wall along the gallery that looked into a canyon several hundred feet below. A huge bastionlike retaining wall outside the main building made the house appear safe from intrusion and Olympian in its detachment.[citation needed]

Alexander befriended Ayn Rand and provided quotes for her book The Fountainhead (1943). Rand's descriptions of the Heller House, and other houses designed by the book's hero Howard Roark, were believed, by Alexander, to be thinly disguised references to Hangover House.[6]

The nickname "Hangover House" is a pun on both the building's location overlooking the cliffs, and the alcohol consumed there.[citation needed] Another source states that Halliburton named it after a cliff that he was saved from falling over while climbing the Matterhorn.[8][9]


Halliburton and Mooney visited the construction site in May 1937; prior to starting the house, a road and retaining wall were built.[10] Halliburton, Mooney, and the crew of the Chinese junk Sea Dragon were lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean during a typhoon in March 1939, shortly after the house was completed. Halliburton's parents announced plans to sell the house later that year[11] and completed an auction in 1941,[12] selling it to Gen. Wallace Thompson Scott and his wife Zolite for $9,000;[13] the Scott family was the sole bidder.[3] Zolite Scott lived in the house until her death in 2004;[7] the title passed to Zolita Scott, Wallace's daughter and a locally prominent real estate agent, who died in November 2010.[13]

Aerial view of Hangover House, on the edge of Aliso Canyon (2002)

Located at 31172 Ceanothus Drive, the house was then sold in December 2011 for $3.2 million.[14] The buyer, a local resident, paid $2.4 million for the house and $800,000 for an adjacent lot. It was estimated it would take $500,000 to restore the house, as the rebar used in the ferroconcrete structure had rusted.[15] As of April 2012, construction was underway to rehabilitate the building after much neglect had resulted in severe structural deterioration, although work was held up by preservationist disputes.[16][17][18]

The City of Laguna Beach has determined the property is eligible for the National Register in its General Plan.[19]


  1. ^ Laguna Beach Historic Resources Element (Report). City of Laguna Beach. March 2005. p. 22. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  2. ^ Denzer, Anthony (Fall 2009). "The Halliburton House and its Architect, William Alexander". Southern California Quarterly. 91 (3): 319–341. JSTOR 41172482.
  3. ^ a b c McClure, Hal (January 20, 1957). "'Hangover House' Holds Dreams of Halliburton". Santa Cruz Sentinel. AP. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  4. ^ Hunt, Betsy (May 4, 1937). "Narbonne School Girl Interviews Halliburton". San Pedro News-Pilot. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  5. ^ Max, Gerry (April 2007). Horizon Chasers: The Lives and Adventures of Richard Halliburton and Paul Mooney. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-2671-3.
  6. ^ a b Wells, Ted. "Hangover House: An Obscure Modern Masterpiece". Living : Simple. Retrieved March 7, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Sebastian, Scott (Fall 2010). "The Halliburton House" (PDF). Bulletin. South Laguna Civic Association. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  8. ^ Carlton, Jim (September 3, 1989). "South Laguna's Forgotten Giant: 50 Years After His Death at Sea, Adventurer Halliburton's Acts Are as Obscured as His Mansion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  9. ^ Johnson, Lana (September 17, 2010). "Historic Laguna Treasures". Laguna Beach Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Author Halliburton Inspects Beach Home". San Bernardino Sun. May 25, 1937. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Halliburton Family to Sell Beach Home". San Bernardino Sun. Associated Press. August 12, 1939. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Halliburton Home to Be Auctioned". San Pedro News-Pilot. AP. October 31, 1941. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  13. ^ a b Hart, Kelli (March 14, 2011). "Home for sale of adventurer lost at sea". Orange County Register. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  14. ^ Hart, Kelli (December 6, 2011). "Landmark Halliburton home sells: $3.2M". Orange County Register. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  15. ^ Frazier, Cindy (March 21, 2014). "'Hangover House' sold to new owner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  16. ^ Mickadeit, Frank (19 April 2012). "Laguna halts another historic home remodel". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  17. ^ Robinson, Rita (April 20, 2012). "Work Frozen on Halliburton's Historic House". Laguna Beach Independent. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  18. ^ Koerner, Claudia (26 April 2012). "Work resumes on historic Hangover House". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Roadmap for adoption of revised historic preservation ordinance". City of Laguna Beach. March 5, 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Austen, Roger. Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America. Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1977

External links[edit]