James Dolena

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James Dolena
BornMay 17, 1888
DiedJune 12, 1978

James Dolena (1888-1978) was a Russian-born American architect. He designed many houses in Los Angeles, California.

Early life[edit]

James Dolena was born in Russia on May 17, 1888.[1] He emigrated to the United States in 1905.[2][3] He was trained as an architect and a painter.[2]


Dolena first moved to Los Angeles to install a mural with Hubert Valentine Fanshaw, and spent the rest of his career there.[2][3]

In 1926, Dolena designed the private residence of silent actor Hobart Bosworth, a 3.2-acre mansion located at 809 North Hillcrest Road in Beverly Hills, California.[4][5][6] The interiors were designed by William Haines and the landscape by Benjamin Martin Purdy.[4] In 1933, it was purchased by William Powell and Carole Lombard, and the following year, Dolena redesigned it.[2][5][6][7] In 1969, it became the home of producer Albert R. Broccoli.[4][5] Since 2005, it has been owned by interior designer Kelly Wearstler.[4][5]

In 1931, Dolena designed the Garden Apartment and Retail Shop, an apartment house in Westwood, Los Angeles.[1][8] The following year, in 1932, he designed the private residence of film director Richard Wallace in Bel Air, Los Angeles.[1][9][10] Later in 1932, he designed the private residence of actress Constance Bennett in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles.[11] In 1936, he designed the home of Ingle Barr, a renowned book collector, in Beverly Hills, California.[12][13] From 1934 to 1937, he designed the Farmers Market in the Fairfax District, Los Angeles.[14]

From 1937 to 1939, Dolena designed Casa Encantada located at 10644 Bellagio Road in Bel Air, Los Angeles for Hilda Boldt Weber, heiress to the Charles Boldt Glass Co..[15][16][17][18] The interiors and furniture were designed by T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings.[2][15] It spans 8.4 acres and has sixty-four rooms.[15] In 1950, hotelier Conrad Hilton purchased it for $225,000.[2] He sold it to David H. Murdock for $12.4 million in 1979.[15][19] Later, Gary Winnick, the current owner, purchased it for $94 million.[15]

From 1937 to 1940, Dolena designed the Boddy House for Manchester Boddy on the grounds of Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California.[20][21] In 1939, he designed the private residence of George Cukor.[22][23][24] William Haines was the interior designer.[22] The same year, he designed the house of Col. David L. Reeves in Santa Barbara, California.[1][25] In 1940, he designed the B.T. Gate House in Brentwood, Los Angeles.[1][26]

In 1949, Dolena designed the Walt Disney Estate, a 5,669-square-foot, seventeen-room mansion, for Walt Disney and his wife Lillian Disney in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles.[27][28][29]

Personal life and death[edit]

Dolena lived in Brentwood, Los Angeles, in a house he designed in 1935.[30][31][32]

Dolena died on June 12, 1978 in Los Angeles County, California.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pacific Coast Architecture Database
  2. ^ a b c d e f Aaeroe Architectural
  3. ^ a b Sam Watters, Houses of Los Angeles: 1920-1935, Acanthus Press, 2007, p. 361 [1]
  4. ^ a b c d Pacific Coast Architecture Database: William Powell House
  5. ^ a b c d Hamish Bowles, Kelly Wearstler: The Bold And The Beautiful, Vogue, October 01, 2009
  6. ^ a b Emily Eerdmans, Kelly Wearstler, Regency Redux: High Style Interiors: Napoleonic, Classical Moderne, and Hollywood Regency, Rizzoli, 2008, p. 9 [2]
  7. ^ John Chase, Glitter Stucco and Dumpster Diving, Verso, 2004, p. 99
  8. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Garden Apartment and Retail Shop
  9. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Mr and Mrs Richard Wallace House
  10. ^ 'Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wallace, Bel-Air', Architectural Digest, 9: 4, 33-37, 1934-1935
  11. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Constance Bennett House
  12. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Ingle Barr House
  13. ^ 'Residence of Mr. Ingle Barr, Beverly Hills, Calif.', Architectural Digest, 10: 3, 100-104, 1940
  14. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Farmers Market
  15. ^ a b c d e Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Casa Encantada
  16. ^ Huntington Digital Library: Hilda Boldt Weber residence
  17. ^ John Chase, Exterior decoration: Hollywood's inside-out houses, Hennessey & Ingalls, 1982, p. 50 [3]
  18. ^ Ulysses Grant Dietz, Sam Watters, Dream house: The White House as an American home, Acanthus Press, 2009, p. 198 [4]
  19. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: David Murdock House
  20. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Boddy House
  21. ^ 'Residence of Mr. Manchester Boddy, La Canada, California', Architectural Digest, 10: 3, 93-96, 1940
  22. ^ a b Pacific Coast Architecture Database: George Cukor House
  23. ^ William J. Mann, Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn, Macmillan, 2007, p. 188 [5]
  24. ^ 'Cukor house a vestige of gentility', The Los Angeles Times, part VII: 1, 9/4/1983
  25. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: Col and Mrs David L. Reeves House
  26. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: B.T. Gate House
  27. ^ Marc Wanamaker, Westwood, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, p. 68
  28. ^ Laura Meyers, 'Reality Check: Lovers' Lien', Los Angeles, March 1998, p. 44 [6]
  29. ^ Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Biography, Aurum, 2007, p. 474
  30. ^ Pacific Coast Architecture Database: James E. Dolena House
  31. ^ "Residence of Mr. J.E. Dolena, Brentwood Park, California", Architectural Digest, 10: 3, 166, 1940
  32. ^ Bruce David Cohen, 'A Dolena legacy: refurbishing the architect's classic house in Los Angeles', Architectural Digest, 47: 10, 164-171, 227, 9/1990