Oakridge Estate

Nestled in the beautiful Northwest San Fernando Valley, visitors can stumble upon a stunning English Tudor-style home with strong ties to classic Hollywood. If its walls could talk, they could tell you about Barbara Stanwyck, Zeppo Marx, Robert Taylor, Jack Oakie, and so many more. Many classic Hollywood stars owned ranch properties in the San Fernando Valley, with Barbara Stanwyck being one of them. She and neighbor, Zeppo Marx, were ranch property neighbors. While Marx’s ranch no longer stands, Stanwyck’s remains. In 1936, Stanwyck and Marx purchased roughly 130 acres in Northridge, California, to build two adjacent homes and to initiate their own Thoroughbred training and breeding ranch. The property was named Marwyck, aptly combining their last names. The home boast 6,500 square feet, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four fireplaces, three-car garage, swimming pool, and tennis court.

In 1941, the home was purchased by actor Jack Oakie. He and wife Victoria Horne lived at the estate, renaming it Oakridge. Oakie passed away in 1978. By 1990, it became a City Historic-Cultural Monument. In 2000, Oakie’s widow donated the estate to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. It was eventually sold to a real estate developed and planned to be razed in favor of building 28 single-family homes, despite the protected landmark status. Thanks to former council member Greg Smith, the property was acquired by the City of Los Angeles as soon as the sale fell out of escrow. The Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners purchased the home and preserved it. The total price of the property was $3.34 million, including the 1.8-acre house and grounds and an additional 9.47 acres. The Oakridge Estate Park and residence remain under the management of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Oakridge itself holds many gems in relation to Stanwyck’s time there as well as Oakie’s. Marwyck was a dream-come-true for Stanwyck and, later, a place of respite for Oakie. I was lucky to visit the property in 2022 and was so delighted to take a tour from its wonderful tour guides and docents.

While much of the home is as Oakie’s wife redesigned it–particularly the teal paint, traces of Stanwyck’s taste and legacy are also evident throughout the home. The toilet seats, humorously enough, were contoured specifically for Stanwyck.

Stanwyck was in her 20s when she acquired this property and it was a major source of pride and joy for her.

Her beau at the time, Robert Taylor, built her the tennis court–visible just beyond the pool–as a birthday gift (as you do).

Also outside, the original incinerator for the trash remains on the grounds.

The pool cabana and changing area still possess unique vintage wallpaper and accents.

For entertaining, a dining room is located inside. One hole in the floor discreetly would have hidden a button to be pushed for staff to assist in the dining room. A doorway–also cleverly blended into the wall–allowed dining room access from the kitchen for staff.

The kitchen features a sloped counter making it easy to chop and wash vegetables for food preparation. Oakie’s stove also remains.

Stanwyck had a sprawling master bedroom that offered her a lovely view of her property. She would relax and study her scripts here, while taking advantage of her bedroom’s dumbwaiter. She ate minimally, preferring fruits, vegetables, and black coffee, sent straight from the kitchen to her bedroom.

The bedroom leads to an spacious walk-in closet, fit for a star.

One of the gems of the home is the stunning mural room, which showcases numerous original panels to this day.

The same room leads to a small area where records were stored and played. A fragment of the original carpeting is visible.

Another jewel in this home is Stanwyck’s marble bath tub. Stanwyck dreamed of one day having a marble bath tub and her ability to finally realize this dream meant much to her.

Today, the Oakridge Estate offers historic tours and cultural events. I highly recommend visiting this historic property by booking a tour and visiting the Friends of Oakridge website.


About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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