A History of Outpost Estates and 2763 Outpost Drive

2763 Outpost Drive, the restored Spanish-style home recently featured in Curbed LA, was built in 1940 during the second phase of construction of homes in the Outpost Estates neighborhood of the Hollywood Hills. Though nearly fifteen years had passed since the area’s original homes were built, pre-and-post World War II homes in Outpost were still required to match the style and feel of the 1920s homes, which were built specifically for the Golden Era of Hollywood’s movie stars and studio executives. Once the home of actress Dolores del Rio, Outpost Estates is a celebrity enclave just a stone’s throw away from Hollywood Bowl and Runyon Canyon.

The site of the first home in Hollywood, an adobe built by Thomas Urquidez in 1853, was a large sycamore grove. One of the sycamore trees in particular found its way into history books as the hanging site of at least 13 alleged bandits and horse thieves. Somewhere around 1930, actress Dolores Del Rio, while building a home at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Outpost Drive, had the hanging tree chopped down during construction.

Outpost Estates is bordered by Franklin Avenue to the south and Mullholland Drive to the north. The neighborhood roughly covers 1.5 square miles. Charles E. Toberman acquired the land in the 1920s and envisioned the development as “one of the most exclusive and beautiful residential parks in the world”. Toberman only permitted homes throughout the first half of the 20th century be designed in grand Spanish, Mediterranean or California modern styles, have red tile roofs, plenty of patios for “outdoor living,” and be approved by architectural committee before being built. Because of Toberman’s neighborhood specifications, Outpost Estates looks much as it did 100 years ago. The neighborhood consists of about 450 homes and was once referred to as “the jewel in the hills.” In the original advertisements to sell homes and parcels of land, Outpost Estates was billed as being “as accessible as a downtown hotel; as restful and charming as a mountain lodge”.

Also to advertise the luxurious development, in the 1920s, in the hills above the development, a large sign spelled out “Outpost” in towering red neon letters 30 feet high. It was intended to compete with the Hollywoodland sign. At the time, it was the largest neon sign in the United States. The thirty-foot high neon Outpost sign had seemingly vanished from sight by World War II. The wreckage of the sign was not discovered until 2002 by a pair of intrepid hikers who went searching for it. It turns out it hadn’t gone anywhere at all, but had merely been covered by weeds. Even the original foundation and electrical junction boxes survived. Runyon Canyon hikers who simply keep an eye to the east can see the gnarled remains of the steel signs and their girders. Local residents tried to get the sign recognized as a historical-cultural monument, but it did not qualify because it was no longer upright.

In 1967, a homeowners association was formed to combat what residents considered to be inappropriate development. In the 1980s, the group helped to prevent the development of Runyon Canyon. The group continues to operate today and more information can be found here.

And a fun bit of Hollywood trivia: The Outpost Estates development was one of the first neighborhoods in the country to offer all-underground utilities.

2763 Outpost Drive was built for Walter and Dorthy Pinkham. The house remained in the Pinkham family for the next 40 years. Both Walter and Dorthy are buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills). Their son Clarkson W. Pinkham led a distinguished career in structural engineering at the firm of S.B. Barnes Associates in Downtown Los Angeles where he worked for nearly 60 years. Pinkham served on the Board of Directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, was a founding member and board member of the Masonry Society, a founding member of the Los Angeles Tall Buildings Structural Design Council, and played a critical role in developing new criteria for seismic design in California that would later became incorporated into national building codes.

The property’s next owners were Wendy and Jon Hall. They purchased the home in 1978. In 1986, they sold the property to Bradley and Mindy Caplow. Bradley Caplow is a third generation Angeleno and a well known architect based out of Sherman Oaks who continues to design residential homes and commercial buildings today. Mindy Caplow is a sought after interior designer who has been written about in numerous publications including this Los Angeles Times article.

After completing renovations on the home, the Caplow’s sold it to Tom Burstall and Sigrid Thornton in 1989. Burstall is a well regarded film producer and “risk manager,” who worked on films such as Peter Jackson’s cult classic The Frighteners. His wife Sigrid Thornton is the celebrated and iconic Australian actress, best known for her work in the long running television series SeaChange and George Miller’s The Man From Snowy River. In his book The Big Shift, about changing Australian demographics and culture, Bernard Salt coined the term the “Sigrid factor” pointing out that Australian towns in which movies had been made featuring Thornton had prospered since that time.

During their ownership, it is rumored their close friend actress Jane Seymour leased the property for an extended period while Burstall and Thornton were in Australia. Jane Seymour is, of course, known for her roles in the James Bond film Live and Let Die, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and, more recently, Wedding Crashers. She has earned an Emmy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1997, the property was purchased by Ron Pomerantz. Pomerantz would later become the Executive Creative Director of the Disney Channel. Pomerantz had his hand in many of Disney Channels biggest successes on the marketing and creative side, where he led strategy and creative direction for the networks on-air and off-air media programs. As VP Creative at Disney Channel and Disney Junior, he helped oversee the launch of Disney Junior in 2011 and was intstrumental in the logo relaunches of both networks. His creative credits include High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Teen Beach Movie, Good Luck Charlie, Lemonade Mouth, Girl Meets World, Phineas And Ferb, Gravity Falls, Wizards Of Waverly Place, Camp Rock, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins, among others.

For more photos go here. If you are interested in this fantastic Spanish-style home in Outpost Estates, call me at (323) 697-3040 or email me at jacqueline.tager@sothebyshomes.com.

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