photograph shows the Feuchtwanger's former residence, Villa
Aurora, on 520 Paseo Miramar, Pacific Palisades, California,
with a view from the southwest.
Aurora was built in the late 1920s as a joint project between
Miramar Estates developers Arthur Weber and George Ley and the
Los Angeles Times. The Villa, then known as the "Los
Angeles Times Demonstration Home," served two purposes. Primarily,
it was to be a model of the "latest developments in domestic technology
and home planning ideas." In addition, the Demonstration Home
would show skeptical Angelenos the benefits of living far from
the city center.
progress of the Demonstration Home was chronicled with weekly
articles in the Times. The newspaper urged interested
readers to view the house for themselves to see firsthand current
techniques in home building. According to the Times,
thousands of people toured the Villa during its construction and
in the month following its completion.
design of the Demonstration Home was based on a castle in Sevilla,
Spain. The carved and painted wooden doors and ceilings were designed
with Moorish motifs by Thorwald Probst, inspired by the Cathedral
of Teruel in Spain. The Demonstration Home was a showcase for
the latest technological inventions-the kitchen boasted a gas
range, electric refrigerator and dishwasher, and the spacious
three car garage was opened by an electric garage door.
breaking: August 28, 1927
viewing: April 29-May 27, 1928
6700 square feet with 14 rooms on 3 floors
and landscape architect: Mark Daniels
owners: Judge & Mrs. Arthur A. Weber
owners: Lion & Marta Feuchtwanger
Feuchtwangers were able to purchase Villa Aurora in November 1943
for the extraordinarily low price of $9000 due to circumstances
of the war. With gasoline rationing in effect, travel between
Pacific Palisades and Los Angeles was difficult, making purchase
of outlying real estate unappealing for most. As Lion Feuchtwanger
sought solitude for his writing and loved the Mediterranean setting
of the Villa and its views of the Santa Monica Bay, the decision
to purchase Villa Aurora came easily.
Feuchtwanger lived in Villa Aurora from 1943 until his death in
1958. During these fifteen years, he wrote six novels in his study
on the top floor. The spacious Villa also saw the birth of Lion
Feuchtwanger's third and final library, which rapidly grew in
size to nearly 30,000 volumes before his death.
Aurora became a meeting place for the German émigrés
and artists in Los Angeles. The Feuchtwangers often hosted a light
evening meal that was followed by a reading from Feuchtwanger's
current novel. Among those invited over the years to these readings
were Vicki Baum, Bertolt Brecht, Bruno Frank, Gina Kaus, Heinrich
and Thomas Mann, Ludwig Marcuse, and Franz Werfel. The Feuchtwangers
also enjoyed inviting a few couples to afternoon tea. Frequent
visitors to these intimate gatherings were Charles and Oona Chaplin,
William and Charlotte Dieterle, Hanns and Lou Eisler, Peter Lorre,
and Arnold and Gertrude Schoenberg.
the death of her husband in 1958, Marta Feuchtwanger bequeathed
Villa Aurora and Feuchtwanger's library to the University of Southern
California. The Feuchtwanger Estate passed to USC in late 1987
upon the death of Marta Feuchtwanger. In 1989 Villa Aurora was
sold to the Friends of Villa Aurora Inc., a German consortium
interested in preserving this historic monument. Now fully restored
to its original splendor, the Villa is home of the Villa
Aurora Foundation for European American Relations. A large
portion of Feuchtwanger's library remains on permanent loan at
Villa Aurora from the University of Southern California.
more information contact the Feuchtwanger