They loved their Eagle Rock, Calif., ranch the first time they stepped foot through its threshold (part 1), but the story started getting more interesting the deeper they delved into their new abode’s history (part 2). Now, In search of the story behind their fantastically designed midcentury modern entertaining-ready home, Apryl relates her quest for information and what she uncovered in the process.
From a neighbor, I was able to get the names and phone numbers of the Carazzos’ daughters. From them, I learned all about the couple who had crafted our dream house.
Mario and Helen owned a nearby liquor store for 20 years. They had three daughters: Monica, Marisa and Patti. When the girls were little their dad would point up at the then-undeveloped hill and say, “See that spot up there? We’re going to live up there someday.” The girls didn’t know whether to believe him or not.
For years, the couple collected ideas for their future house. “They had stacks of brochures and business cards from companies they saw at home shows,” Patti Collier, the Carazzos’ youngest daughter told me on the phone. “They knew exactly what they wanted when they were ready to build the house.”
And what they wanted most was a home for entertaining.
“This was the party house,” confirmed middle daughter Marisa McBride. “Everyone loved coming here and hanging out. Family, friends—my parents made everyone feel welcome and happy to be here. And they loved polka and hosted dances on the patio.”
When we found out that the architect and McBride still lived in Los Angeles, we decided to throw a party to meet them. We wanted to know anyone who had been involved with our fabulous house. Julian Pollok pointed out details and remembered the special touches Ralph Rogers used when building his homes, like the stone used in the walls. McBride brought photo albums and showed us pictures of Christmases, summer barbecues and other events celebrated in the house: her dad with a grandchild sitting at the makeup table in the master bath, New Year’s revelers kicking back on the sofa sipping cocktails, and Mario and Helen soaking up summer sun on the back patio.
McBride was thrilled the house looked pretty much the same as it had when she was growing up. When she saw the orange sink in the laundry room still intact, she got a bit teary-eyed. “I have the hairdresser’s chair that matches that sink,” she said. “It’s the same color. I’d love for you guys to have it. Mom would want it to be here.”
McBride also brought her mom’s favorite cake, promising to share the recipe, and told us that behind the bar her dad had carved champagne glasses and bubbles into the floor and filled them with resin. Unfortunately, the bar floor has been covered over with linoleum and wood, but someday David and I want to see if we can find Mario’s champagne glasses and bring them back to life. While we do plan on eventually updating a bit, most things about the Carazzos’ hilltop cocktail lounge will stay exactly as is.
Every morning when the sun rises on the city and every evening as it sets over the hills of Griffith Park we feel proud that we get to live in Helen and Mario’s long-awaited dream house. Which accidentally became our dream house, too.