Born: January 9, 1900, Brownsville, Tennessee, United States
Died: March 24, 1939, Pacific Ocean
Movies: India Speaks
Parents: Wesley Halliburton, Nelle Nance Halliburton
Siblings: Wesley Halliburton Jr.
Education: Lawrenceville School
Memphis University School
Lived: Hangover House, Laguna Beach, 31172 Ceanothus Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA (33.50984, -117.74785)
Buried: Forest Hill Cemetery Midtown, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
Architecture historian and writer Ted Wells considers Hangover House, which Richard Halliburton commissioned, one of the "best modern houses in the United States."
Address: 31172 Ceanothus Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA (33.50984, -117.74785)
Type: Private Property
Hangover House (also known as the Halliburton House) was designed and built by William Alexander Levy for his friend the travel writer Richard Halliburton. Constructed in 1938 on a Laguna Beach, California, hilltop, the house, boasting commanding views of the Pacific Ocean, was built with three bedrooms, one each for Halliburton, Alexander, and Halliburton's lover Paul Mooney, who was also Halliburton's editor and ghostwriter. Alexander drew upon European modern architecture and created flat-roofed boxes of concrete and glass. He hoped to create a house that, like the international modern spirit of Halliburton, soared above the clouds. Mies van der Rohe's work and his experimental concrete buildings of the 1920s, along with Le Corbusier's L'Esprit Nouveau Pavilion (1924–25) and his famous Villa Savoye (1928–29), influenced Alexander. Concrete and steel were the main materials used in its construction. Glass blocks formed part of the wall along the gallery that looked into a canyon several hundred feet below. A huge bastionlike retaining wall outside the main building made the house appear safe from intrusion and Olympian in its detachment. Alexander was a novice architect, a recent graduate of the New York University School of Architecture and close friend of Paul Mooney. Mooney managed the construction of the house, and offered occasional design advice, suggesting the creation of a small pond behind the house which, for its shape and size, he called "Clark Gable's ears." A mutual friend of Levy and Mooney, Charles Wolfsohn (born 1912), a penthouse garden designer, did the flower landscaping. The house, built of concrete and steel and bastion-like in appearance, contained a spacious living room, a spacious dining room and three bedrooms. Because of its position, perched 400 feet (120m) above a sheer canyon, it was called "Hangover House" by Mooney, and this title was cast into a retaining wall on the site. The nickname "Hangover House" is a pun on both the building's location overlooking the cliffs, and the alcohol consumed there. When he first saw the completed structure, Halliburton enthused, "it flies!" Alexander befriended Ayn Rand and provided quotes for her book “The Fountainhead” (1943). Rand's descriptions of the Heller House, and other houses designed by the book's hero Howard Roark, were believed, by Alexander, to be thinly disguised references to Hangover House. Halliburton was lost at sea in 1939. In 1942, the house was purchased for $9,000 by Gen. Wallace Thompson Scott. The house was sold in 2011 for $3.2 million, about a year after the death of the longtime owner, Zolite Scott, Wallace's daughter. As of April 2012, construction was underway to rehabilitate the building after much neglect had resulted in severe structural deterioration; although work was held up by preservationist disputes.
Who: Richard Halliburton (January 9, 1900 – March 24, 1939), Paul Mooney (November 4, 1904 – March 24, 1939) and William Alexander Levy (October 21, 1909 - June 2, 1997)
Richard Halliburton was an American traveler, adventurer, and author. Best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal and paying the lowest toll in its history—36 cents—Halliburton was headline news for most of his brief career. His final and fatal adventure, an attempt to sail a Chinese junk, the Sea Dragon, across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, made him legendary. Halliburton's friends during this time included movie stars, writers, musicians, painters, and politicians, including writers Gertrude Atherton and Kathleen Norris, Senator James Phelan and philanthropist Noel Sullivan, and actors Ramón Novarro and Rod LaRoque. Halliburton never married. While young he dated several young women and, as revealed in letters to them, was infatuated with at least two. Later in his life, rumors of an impending marriage to Mary Lou Davis, who, with her two children from a previous marriage, resided at Hangover House during the Sea Dragon Expedition, were of little foundation. Halliburton was most likely bisexual. Among those romantically linked to him were film star Ramón Novarro and philanthropist Noel Sullivan, both of whom shared the bohemian lifestyle. Halliburton's most enduring relationship was with freelance journalist Paul Mooney, with whom he often shared living quarters and who assisted him with his written work. French police reports, dated 1935, noted the famed traveler's homosexual activity when in Paris - this about the time of his planned crossing by elephant over the Alps: "Mr Halliburton is a well known homosexual in some specialized establishments. One of his cruising locales was the Saint-Lazare Street." After the deaths of Halliburton and Mooney, William Alexander Levy assisted composer Arnold Schoenberg in the redesign of his studio in Brentwood, and also designed a house in Encino for scriptwriter David Greggory. The house in the Hollywood Hills he built for himself he called the House in Space, distinct as an early example in the region of cantilever construction. Alexander also designed wooden furniture and bowls. Alexander continued to practice architecture and interior design and by 1950 had moved permanently to West Hollywood. In 1952, Alexander opened The Mart, one of the first art and antique boutiques in Los Angeles, on Santa Monica Boulevard, operating it until 1977. During this period, he occasionally had bit parts in feature films, notably “The Shootist,” starring John Wayne, and “The McMasters,” starring Brock Peters, his sometime business partner at The Mart. A developer of the Hollywood Hills and a philanthropist, Alexander became a patron of the arts and a world traveler. Alexander's papers are kept at the Architecture and Design Collection, at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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