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HOT PROPERTY

Home Court's New Advantages

November 10, 1996|RUTH RYON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NBA Hall-of-Famer KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, who has been touring the country this fall for his new book "Black Profiles in Courage," is expanding his Beverly Hills-area home by nearly 3,000 square feet, adding a gym, a squash court and guest quarters, sources say.

The basketball legend, who remains the NBA's all-time regular season scoring leader with nearly 38,000 points, has written two best-sellers ("Giant Steps," 1983, and "Kareem," 1990). He retired from the Lakers in 1989.

Abdul-Jabbar, who has a degree in history from UCLA, was inspired to write his current book, about historical figures, when his son Amir had trouble finding enough good material for a ninth-grade black-studies project. Abdul-Jabbar, 49, is divorced and has five children.

"Black Profiles in Courage," co-authored by Alan Steinberg and published by William Morrow, describes many, little-known African Americans whose accomplishments are said to have changed U.S. history. "I'm trying to put the color back in the picture," Abdul-Jabbar has said.

His contemporary-style house was built in 1991 and has three bedrooms plus maid's quarters in about 4,000 square feet. It has 20-foot-high ceilings and extra-tall doorways.

The addition includes a guest suite, which will double as a writer's studio for Abdul-Jabbar's future projects. It has views from downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica mountains.

The bath has a sauna and a steam shower. The gym is equipped with an elaborate sound system and a juice bar. There is a massage area with a sliding glass door to let in the breezes and natural light. A pathway winds up the hillside from the gym to an outdoor spa.

A contemporary-style building, the addition is three-stories tall, but architect Gus Duffy tried to design it to look like two. "The trick was to put it on the hillside and make it look unobtrusive," he said. The tournament-size squash court is dug into the hillside.

The addition, still a few weeks from completion, has not been appraised yet, but industry sources estimate its cost at $600,000. Abdul-Jabbar paid about $2.5 million for his Beverly Hills-area house in November 1992.

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The longtime Beverly Hills home of late jazz great ELLA FITZGERALD has been sold for about $2.5 million to Verna Harrah, widow of gaming casino king William Harrah, sources say.

Escrow closed last week on the home, where Fitzgerald lived for about 20 years. She died in June at 78.

Built about 1930, the Mediterranean-style 6,500-square-foot home has three bedroom suites and two staff rooms plus a guest house. It also has a room off the pool known as "Ella's pub," where she held jam sessions with many jazz legends, sources say.

Harrah also has a 7.5-acre, beachfront home in Malibu that she built, sources have said.

Fitzgerald's home had been listed with Joe Babajian and Kyle Grasso of Fred Sands Estates, Beverly Hills, and Harrah was represented by Barbara Duskin of the Prudential-Jon Douglas Co., Beverly Hills.

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A Hancock Park home built in 1926 for the RINDGE FAMILY is listed at $2.65 million.

The 11,000-square-foot home, on an acre, has eight bedrooms, two maid's rooms and guest quarters, a 52-foot-long living room/ballroom with 15-foot high ceilings and a pipe organ, six fireplaces, three butler's pantries, a walk-in, fireproof safe for silverware, a billiard room, a tennis court and gardens.

There is a gym over the garage with wooden dumbbells and other original equipment. The three-car garage has a limo bay. The home also has two basements.

The wine cellar is entered through a door that once belonged on a large safe. Because the cellar was built during Prohibition, it was never identified on the blueprints as a wine cellar. Instead, plans designate the area for a safe. There are three safes elsewhere in the house.

The house was built for Samuel Knight Rindge, eldest son of Frederick Hastings Rindge, a prosperous businessman who moved to Los Angeles from Cambridge, Mass., in 1887.

The elder Rindge founded the Conservative Life Insurance Co., which became Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. He was an investor in Union Oil and Southern California Edison, and he was a San Fernando Valley real estate developer.

He acquired the Rancho Malibu, a Spanish land grant that extended along the coast about 25 miles and inland from one to three miles. He built a large home in Malibu Canyon, on his ranch, but it burned down in 1903. He built a home in 1904 in Los Angeles, which became a historical monument.

Frederick Hastings Rindge died in 1905. His widow, May, patrolled her Malibu ranch on horseback and with armed guards to prevent the state from building Highway 1 there. After a 20-year court battle, however, the state won and the highway opened in 1929.

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