Designed in 1927 by architect Charles S. Cobb in the Italian-Renaissance style, the 4-story plus basement apartment house opened in 1928 as the Hacienda Park.
In April 1935, the fashionable address became the scene of a crime when dress designer Paul Ivar Wharton was shot in his apartment during a “dinner party.” Another man, Henry E. Bolte, was shot at another location around the same time. Police charged a young sailor. William McCauley Howard, whose own death was proclaimed a suicide, with both murders, blaming debt as the motive, but the facts of the case were vague.
By 1938, 8439 Sunset had been renamed the Coronet Apartments. This building, which still stands, is often referred to day as the “House of Francis,” a brothel operated by Hollywood madam Lee Francis, mainly because it’s one of her few known addresses. That’s because Francis was arrested here on morals charges in January 1940, for the first time in her long “career.” However, according to Francis in her book, Ladies on Call (published in 1965 but written in 1939-40, with some material added 1940-1941), she had only moved here recently after closing her last “house” on N. Bedford Dr., and alleges to have been more or less out of the madam business by that time (though she admits she still knew where to find “girls” on request).
Top image: 8439 today as the Piazza del Sol. Los Angeles Conservancy photo.