Los Feliz Haunt

(Editor’s Note: I was working against the clock on this piece, well aware that the L.A. Times’s inestimable cityside reporter Bob Pool had worked up a long takeout, which was published as today’s Column One feature. Pool’s article had been held for weeks, the result of a painfully pinched newshole. I kept my fingers crossed, but these things happen. I do have some photos of the property, and a more contemplative angle.)

There are a lot of haunted houses in Los Angeles.

I don’t mean infested with ghosts and vampires. I mean an event has occurred on the premises so horrific that no one is ever comfortable living within its walls again.

L.A.’s two most famous haunted houses were the scenes of the Tate-La Bianca murders, committed 40 years ago this August. The house on Cielo Drive in Bel-Air where Sharon Tate and four others were slaughtered had tenants shuffle in and out for a quarter century after the carnage, with Trent Reznor among its last lessees. It was torn down in the mid-1990s and replaced with a 16,000-square-foot behemoth you can see from miles away. Even with the old house gone, it took more than a year to sell the property, as I recall the defunct New Times Los Angeles reporting. One would-be buyer from Saudi Arabia apparently backed out at the last minute, after being erroneously informed that hundreds of people had been killed there.

The Los Feliz home where Leno and Rosemary La Bianca were stabbed to death still stands, but it’s changed hands many times. It also sports a different address, to keep away the curious.

No such obstacles prevent looky-loos from visiting another haunted property that’s just a short drive from the former La Bianca residence. It’s nestled in a cul-de-sac on the 2400 block of Glendower Place.

The mansion on the 2400 block of Glendower Pl. has obviously been vacant for decades.

The mansion on the 2400 block of Glendower Pl. has obviously been vacant for decades.

The beige Spanish-style house was built in 1925 and is enormous – more than 5,000 square feet, according to public records. It commands a gorgeous view of the Hollywood flatlands, reachable only by several steep and staggered stairways. The only home in the neighborhood with a more imposing presence is the fabled Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House, which looms over the Glendower home’s surprisingly small backyard.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a horrible murder-suicide that occurred there. According to the Los Angeles Times of Dec. 7, 1959, 50-year-old physician Harold N. Perelson killed his 42-year-old wife Lillian with a hammer while she slept. He also attacked his 18-year-old daughter. When his two younger children awoke to screaming, Perelson told them it was a nightmare, and that they should go back to sleep. They complied.

The older daughter fled to a neighbor’s house. That neighbor went to confront Perelson. By the time the police arrived, Perelson was dead himself, having ingested poison.

The living room of the Glendower house.

The living room of the Glendower house, photographed through a dirty window screen.

The Glendower property is the kind producers, mini-real estate moguls and neurosurgeons salivate over, even in the current down market. But it’s obvious by peering into the grime-caked windows of this manse that it’s been vacant for decades.

In a front room of the house, many plastic bowls sit on sheets of newspaper, which in turn covers either long-rotted carpet or wood. At first I thought they were for feeding pets, but then I realized the flat roof in that section of the house leaks like a sieve. A vintage radio sits on a shelf on the far wall behind the bowls. Most of the pieces of furniture visible in the rambling manse have long been covered with dusty sheets. Two yellow-vinyl wing chairs in the living room looked particularly garish, until I realized they were quite the style in the 1950s, which is probably the last time they were used. A back room is filled with old LPs, an ancient television, and a board game called “Table Tennis,” which looks nearly pristine, even though its graphics suggest it was produced eons ago.

Bowls in a front room; probably to capture water from a leaky roof.

Bowls in a front room. They probably capture water from a leaky roof.

There is a sadness in this unused home and its aging contents, particularly in light of the facts, of which there are few beyond the obvious. The L.A. Times of the 1950s was still a reactionary rag that had yet to practice serious journalism. Its first-day story of the tragedy ended on a singularly useless note: the names of the Los Angeles Police Department detectives who were first to arrive on the scene. It did mention that Harold Perelson had been experiencing some financial difficulties. Even in its current diminished state, the Times delved far deeper into the recent murder-suicide of the Lupoe family (and all the other murder suicides of recent years).

An unconfirmed rumor circulated in the years after the Glendower tragedy: Harold Perelson had been discreetly committed by his wife for depression, then reacted violently when he was released, certain the news of his hospitalization would wreck his Inglewood medical practice. This was an era when even medical professionals would deal with mental health issues through doses of Milltown and a staff upper lip, and wives were often discouraged — sometimes violently — from taking serious family matters into their own hands.

An ancient television and board game (far right), sit in a back room.

An ancient television and board game (far right), sit in a back room.

I tried to revisit the Perelson tragedy myself, locating what I believed to be Harold Perelson’s son Joel, who is living in New York (I couldn’t find the two other Perelson children). Joel was 13 when his parents died; he would be in his 60s now. It was a tough phone call to make. Not quite as tough as some of the obit calls I made as a cub reporter, but nor was it something I was itching to do.

After the line rang perhaps 10 times, I received one of those robotic answering machine messages: “Hello. No one is here to take your call. Please call again later.” I was then cut off. A second call I made the following day was met with the same result. It was exactly the kind of message you would expect to hear from a home where someone did not want to be disturbed by outsiders. Ever.

The Ennis House looms over the Glendower property's backyard.

The Ennis House looms over the Glendower property's backyard.

The only professional trace that remains of Joel’s father was an article he published in the Southern Medical Journal in August 1947. It was entitled: “Occipital Nerve Tenderness: A Sign of Headache.”

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Los Feliz Haunt

  1. Derek

    Fascinating story. I can’t believe the new owner’s named Enriquez who bought the house in 1960 just let it sit. Were they that wealthy they could afford to do that? Even now, their son who is 70 something doesn’t seemed concerned to sell it. The property alone is worth a fortune. The house is probably too far gone to save and is a tear down, what a shame it was a pretty 1920′s house.

  2. carol

    just drove over there . what a wierd feeling to stand in all the rain and feel the vibes that come from that house . so sad and lonely. glad i could read more about it . L A history like that is always facinating!

  3. Unfortunately, I think some homes have bad karma; I wish this lovely home well.

  4. Savvy

    Yeah it would be gorgeous if someone would give it some TLC & fix it up. I guess we have to wait til Enriquez dies.
    It would make great movie if they have a few more facts but maybe the kids don’t want the story set to film.

  5. shelley

    Just read the story this AM Can’t beleve is would be true in 2009. I think the house is haunted and the new owers where scared off. that would be only reason the xmas preasents and all the prevous oners things are untouched?

  6. Derek

    My friend and I just went there yesterday Feb 9th, peeked in the windows and it is eerie. It does give off a weird vibe. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought from the articles, I think it would cost a lot of money but after seeing it I think it should be restored. The architecture and grounds are pretty. It has a spectacular view. I hope they don’t tear it down when Enriquez does pass away. He sounds a bit off kilter as well, he could live like a king on the money for his final years.

  7. Kristy

    Wow, what an incredible story!! What a house too. I’ve been wondering who the previous owners where before the Doc and his wife.

  8. Doug

    Reminds me of Dicken’s Miss Havisham character with her ancient decaying wedding cake, and of Joseph Stefano’s Outer Limits 1963 episode Don’t Open ‘Til Doomsday, both dealing with events frozen in time. I also found the 1947 article by a Harold N. Perelson M.D., and was really weirded out by the article’s name. I feel for the kids–a terrible fate for anyone to perish from or live with.

  9. Jeremy

    Nice article. The LA times article was interesting too. Unfortunately, murders or other crimes do happen in homes, but in most cases, the houses get quickly remodeled or torn-down. What makes this house really eerie is that it has essentially been vacant for 50 years with many of the Peterson’s possessions still in the house. The LA Times mentioned a Christmas tree and gifts still there. The murder-suicide happened on Dec. 6, 1959, so I’m guessing that the decorations & gifts were for Christmas 1959?

    The Southern Medical Journal article was not the professional article Dr. Peterson wrote. He also published an article in the American Heart Journal (vol. 37, issue 7, 1126-34) in June 1949, “The electrocardiogram in familial periodic paralysis.”

    I was able to obtain & read a PDF of the article.

    The article (at least as of 1949) that Dr. Perelson was a Cardiology professor at the USC School of Medicine, and had connections to LA County general hospital, “Santa Fe” hospital, and Cedars of Lebanon hospital (Cedars-Sinai).

  10. Enriquez inherited the mansion when his mother died in 1994. He has been approached many times by potential buyers but has refused to sell.

    He hasn’t decided what he wants to do with the property, he says.

    “I asked him why not lease it, at least. You can’t have a house sit empty for 50 years and not expect it to fall apart. It’s a tear-down now. It’s a shame,” Margolis said.

    Enriquez, 77, a retired music store manager, remains uncertain about his plans for the estate.

    “I don’t know that I want to live there or even stay here,” he said.

    But it has nothing to do with the mansion’s violent past.

    “I’ve never looked at it as being haunted,” he said. “I still go there often – I was there last night, in fact. I think now I’ll be going more often … The only spooky thing there is me.”

  11. Derek

    Enriquez sounds like a complete whacko. If I inherited a place like that I would have restored it ASAP and moved in or sold it. I lived in a Murder house in Pasadena in 1964 to 1972. So I can tell you it’s no big deal. Unless you are alone at night and have a wild imagination. The dead should be scared of me. The house I lived in was the Harold Oilar house at 555 Ave 64 Pasadena. He axe murdered his wife and 3 kids with his son’s boy scout axe in December 1954. My mother bought it in 1964 unaware, they didn’t have a disclosure law in those days. I was 3 years old. I’d love to restore this place and move in. People really make things weirder than they are. I’d live here in a second.

    • Mike

      In reading about this fascinating story I also found out about the Oilar house. As a child I lived just across the intersection on La Loma (1966-1976) but wasn’t aware of that place. Derek (above) was one of our neighborhood kids at the time.

      As to the Perelson house, all I can think is that the new owners got it for a song, and decided to keep it as a nest egg, primarily for their son. They must have done some occasional maintenance inside, in the beginning at least.

    • Brandon

      Absolutely! As a real estate investor and renovator, I would have a FIELD DAY with this place! I agree with Derek…the dead should fear me! By the time I pull out my Bible and exorcise the place anything out of sorts will be gone :-) This isn’t a tear down either necessarily. It is only a tear down to those who don’t know how to renovate a property carefully. Could make a fortune off of this……..Enriquez is obviously not stable….

  12. Derek — Who was the killer? It would be interesting to look it up. Sounds like its probably mentioned on the net..

  13. Eep, my mistake. I thought maybe the name was somebody else who’d lived there. Here’s more about that:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2007/11/rampage-revisit.html

  14. James

    There was this interesting mock video made about the house that I stumbled upon on youtube:

  15. Tim

    I went up to the house last month with my wife and a friend. Our friend and I went up to the house with cameras and took pictures through the screens and dirty windows. Too bad the 2nd and 3rd stories are not accessible. But the stories of a Christmas tree and wrapped gifts are (at least now) not true. Maybe there was a tree and gifts once. I did, however through a back of the house/side window see and photograph a table full of Christmas wrapping paper with paper trimmings on it and ribbon for bows there as well. Gifts had been being wrapped in that area and the proof is still there 50 years later….Really chilling to see that.

  16. carmell

    have no idea why- but last night at my very old hotel room in costa rica, i thought of this story- that my mom has told me but 2x in my life, subsequently, i thought of this tragedy but twice in my 35 years. So as i returned from my jaunt, and some googleing, i called her for some specifics. The Oilar tragedy. Harold Oilar taught my mother how to swim. My mom was friends with the girl her age, they went to school at San Rafael. Pamela Haines, my mother lived across the street at the time of the murders, 1600 La Loma; white house with red door… She has explained before how shuddering such an event was to her, but that, “there was no counseling in those days, honey.” I believe, knowing my mother’s childhood, Janet and my mother Pamela, must have shared some similar pain, perhaps unbeknownst empathy. Strange, I haven’t a clue as to the reason for my compulsion to lightly research this now. Oct. 25, 2009. Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
    crazy.

  17. Kristine and Melissa

    Does anyone agree that somebody should definitely make a movie about this?

    We also visited this house this evening and as everyone else has stated, the house is falling apart and it is a shame to see such an interesting place go to waste like that. We also got an ere feeling sitting in front of the home. I’m very curious to see what happens to the home after Enriquez makes up his mind or passes on. I’m not sure if there was a christmas tree or presents but if there were i would like to know what sort of toys a child would have received during those times. They are probably priceless items now if they weren’t spoiled by water damage.

  18. Ryan

    I hope the house gets restored and people move in. Its got a lot of character. I mean, its historic (and infamous), but it also has merit on its own. Its a cool looking house.

  19. Spin Marty

    Creepy doesn’t begin to describe the feeling this house radiates. Add to that the fact that the Ennis House, which is the house used for the movie “House On Haunted Hill” (which had been released earlier that year-1959 with Vincent Price) , overlooks the backyard! YIKES!

  20. Ruiz

    I believe the Enriquez family superstitions is why they haven’t sold the home, Hispanic’s are very superstitious, especially from that generation, (same as my parents). I think the Enriquez family were initially going to move in but something happened that scared the hell out of them and that’s why they abandoned it. This is just my opinion but just ask any Hispanic person is they ever heard of El Coo Cooi and then you might understand.

  21. Carla

    Fascinating story I just learned about today. It reminds me of an even creepier version of Grey Gardens!

  22. Kitawna

    Doing some investigation on the Perelson murder/suicide. Dr. Perelson was a patent holder of 6 different U.S patents for creating the rubber stoppers in sterile medication bottles, among other creations for IV (for needle injections or filling the needles from the little glass bottles. He was also affiliated with several hospitals, sat on several medical boards. Dr. Perelson graduated from SUNY Med center in Long Island, with a BS and a Della Sigma T Heta fraternal brother in 1932. He received his NY Medical license in NY state in June 1935. His medical expertise was cardiology and allergies. When he worked at Inglewood Medical Clinic @ 3108 W. Imperial Hwy (anyone know when it closed or moved location and changed name?) with 6 other cardiology drs.

    My curiosity raises when I contemplate how a successful Dr with 6 patents (royalties – patent fees/profit) with earnings that should have been in abundance, aside of his medical practice and other medical facility associations- how could they be in such financial troubles…. Back in 1959 the house was worth $60,000. Was he not getting paid and were others involved with the patents? (It brings to mind the recent Rothschild patent – of Freescale – Malyasian flight 370 conspiracy – supposed 4 other patent owners vanished – thought they aren’t on the flight manifest according to the actual patent).

    Why would there be rumors Perelson was committed? And what was the connection of the Enriquez family? Did they know the Perelson’s while they were alive.n

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