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Cozy grandeur

October 11, 2008|Chris Iovenko | Special to The Times

THOUGH the late Beverly Hills architect Gerald Colcord never achieved the same level of acclaim as his contemporaries Wallace Neff or Paul Williams, he did design more than 300 houses in Southern California and establish a passionate following that lives on today.

From 1924 to 1984, he built not only comfortable family residences but also grand, eloquent interpretations of Brittany Tudor, Tudor Revival, country French, Spanish hacienda and even Regency homes. The architect's legacy is documented in the new book "Colcord Home" by Bret Parsons, a Colcord fan who, through friends and associates, met Liza Kent, Colcord's business manager from 1970 until his death in 1984.

Kent had preserved an archive of Colcord's architectural drawings, photographs and other documents. Parsons pored over the material, then wrote letters to hundreds of Colcord home owners. "The phone began to ring off the hook," he says. "People were so thrilled and eager to talk both about Colcord and his houses that I had invitations to come over the next day."

Parsons went on to conduct more than 300 interviews over two years, and he gained access to the detailed and artful drawings and floor plans that Colcord drew up for each client as part of his sales presentation.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 12, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction
Beverly Hills architect: An article in Saturday's Home section about Gerard Colcord misspelled his first name as Gerald.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, October 18, 2008 Home Edition Home Part F Page 5 Features Desk 0 inches; 16 words Type of Material: Correction
Beverly Hills architect: An Oct. 11 article about Gerard Colcord misspelled his first name as Gerald.

"Colcord had each house professionally photographed after he finished it," Parsons says. "These photographs provide an invaluable record of the houses and a catalog of his accomplishments as a whole."

Although Colcord worked in a multiplicity of styles, he brought a specific aesthetic to each project. Drawing on his experience living in France and attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Colcord aimed to make in his Southern California homes an authentic hommage to European architecture rather than a superficial knockoff.

"After the use of drywall became the standard for the building industry, Colcord insisted on using plaster and lath," Parsons says. "The plaster had to be hand-applied using rubber gloves to create the correct look and feel."

Feel is an important aspect to Colcord's work; his homes, though often quite large, feel intimate and cozy. They offer a quiet, warm and peaceful retreat from a hectic world. Colcord's understanding of human scale still draws admirers now, as it did then.

"We're all grateful, everyone who comes here," says Connie Wald, 92, who has lived in her Colcord home in Beverly Hills for 65 years. "We all thank Gerry for giving us such a place to live in, dance in and enjoy."




Meet author of 'Colcord Home'

Bret Parsons, author of the new "Colcord Home," will appear at 4:30 p.m. today at Hennessey & Ingalls bookstore, 214 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Because space is limited, attendees are asked to RSVP by calling Angel City Press at (800) 839-5768 or e-mailing rsvp@angel

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