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Entering Beverly Hills house is like stepping into the 1920s

The Mediterranean-style house listed at $5.5 million is up for sale for the first time since it was built in 1925, and it hasn't changed much since then.

March 30, 2012|By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times

Another phone nook is in the kitchen. A year after the Winters moved in, the first transatlantic call ever was placed from London to New York.

As high-tech as a telephone was for the time, the intercom system was simply a long pipe running from a mouthpiece in the master bathroom to the kitchen. The caller pressed a buzzer to alert the kitchen staff, then yelled into it for morning coffee to be brought up.

Through the years, the home was the site of social events recorded in the Los Angeles Times archives. Florence Winter hosted alumni and faculty of the Marlborough School at a tea in 1928. Frances Winter also made the society pages, frequently with her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters from UCLA.

Designed by prolific architect Ray J. Kieffer, the estate has no swimming pool but includes a tennis court. The sport was all the rage in the 1920s as tennis skirt lengths rose from the ankle to the knee.

These days, Julie Lemos, the caretaker who lived with Frances Winter during the decade before her death, is the sole occupant of the 87-year-old house. She and her bichon frisé, Einstein, remain in residence while it is on the market and Winter's heirs — the children of distant cousins — settle the estate.

Lemos was present during a recent open house to answer questions and proudly show off the place. Among the looky-loos was Shawn Far, who works in the apparel industry and is restoring his own vintage house nearby. Far planned to recommend the Beverly Hills house to a like-minded friend who, he said, would "bring it back to life."

Contractor Sally Sherman, a former architectural commissioner for the city of Beverly Hills, was impressed with the quality of construction and the amount of natural light coming into the rooms. The first thing she would recommend to a buyer would be to upgrade the electrical and plumbing systems.

"I hope it will go to someone who loves it," she said, "and restores it."

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