In the quiet neighborhood of Los Feliz on Saint George Street, the historic house at 2919 stood as a silent testament to an era gone by. Its walls, though unassuming, held the echoes of a grand adventure and an unforgettable celebration that had taken place in its not-so-distant past.
The year was 1948, and this house, once a residence for real estate agent George Marshall Duntley and potentially the former home for actress Mary Pickford, found itself on a journey like no other. It had been relocated from its original spot at 707 N. Mariposa Avenue between Hancock Park and Silverlake to its current Los Feliz address, a move that would etch its name into the annals of history.
At the heart of this remarkable journey was Alice Blackburn, a pioneering Los Angeles businesswoman and a woman with a flair for the extraordinary. With the impending Hollywood Freeway construction, Blackburn knew she and her home on Mariposa Ave. only had a handful of options. The house-moving party she opted to throw that night became a story told for ages and one that adds to the legend of Los Angeles, an event that would be remembered not just locally but nationally.
“If these walls could talk,” said Paul Salazar, Estates Director at Hilton & Hyland, who represented the seller when it was recently sold in December of 2023. “The very first time I saw the home, I knew it was special.”
As the wheels of the house rolled through the streets of Los Angeles, the city became a backdrop to a celebration that defied norms. 150 guests, gathered to witness this historic move and signed waivers acknowledging the potential risks. The lack of electricity only added to the charm, as the party unfolded by candlelight and red lanterns, casting a warm and nostalgic glow on the moving spectacle.
The highlight of the evening was a professional dancer who enthralled the crowd with a spirited hula performance, immortalized in a three-page pictorial in Life Magazine. National news covered the event, and the house-moving party has become a tale that continues to captivate the imagination of many.
Contrary to the initial narrative that all 150 guests braved the entire journey within the house, a follow-up article in the LA Times, titled “Alice Moves Her Mansion,” painted a different picture. Concerns raised by the movers about the safety of staying in the house led most guests to depart at midnight. However, a few chose to remain, not just as witnesses but as companions on this extraordinary adventure.
In a Hollywood twist, Alice Blackburn, the orchestrator of the house-moving party, found more than just a unique celebration; she found love. Her neighbor from Mariposa, Andy Hervey, head of publicity at Paramount, became her husband in 1949. The house-moving party became a pivotal chapter in Alice’s life, even earning a place in her 1996 obituary.
As the house settled into its new address on Saint George Street, it stood as a living testament to that night of celebration and the remarkable journey it had undertaken. “The stories of George Marshall Duntley, Mary Pickford, Alice Blackburn, and the countless others who had left their mark on its history are etched into the walls,” said Salazar. The house became more than just a structure; it’s a living relic, forever tied to the grandeur of Hollywood and the spirit of those who dared to make their mark on its storied walls.