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Villa Marcela's NamesakeCan Go Home Again

July 12, 2001|Robert Smaus and \f7

Soon after "Unearthing a Neglected Gem" (June 21) appeared in The Times, about a restored garden at the 1929 Villa Marcela in View Park, who should call but Marcela herself.

When the current owners, Deborah and Terry Hayes, first moved into this Baldwin Hills neighborhood, they heard that their house had been named after a Peruvian consul's daughter, which is why "Villa Marcela" was written in iron script over the entrance.

Marcela Hutson told me that neighborhood lore had it half right--her father, Enrique Halphen, did name the house after her, but he was the Consul General of Panama, not Peru. She added that the statue of a woman in the ornamental pool--whom the Hayes thought might have been Marcela--could not have been, as she was only 4 years old at the time it was created.

The family lived off and on in the house, traveling between Los Angeles and their coffee plantation in Panama until about 1950, when her father finally sold the property here. Marcela, meanwhile, had married and remained in L.A.

When the Hayeses learned about the call I received from Marcela, they invited her and her son to visit so he could see what Mom's childhood home on the hill looked like. They will be meeting soon after the son returns from Europe.

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