Robert Finkelhor is the architect of record for both the Marx and Stanwyck homes at Marwyck. Friends of Oakridge continues to research the roles of both Finkelhor and Paul R. Williams in the design of The Oakridge Estate. Both FInkelhor and Williams designed revival style homes for a Hollywood clientele. Marwyck Ranch was an ambitious project, with two substantial homes and a 120+ acre state of the art Thoroughbred breeding and training farm completed within a year.
Finkelhor was born in Jeanette, Pennsylvania in 1899, studying architecture at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburg (Note 1). In addition to serving in both World Wars, he was a member of the American Institure of Architects from 1920 to 1923 . Finkelhor spent the early portion of his career in Pittsburg and Washington, D. C. and designed Air Force offices in the Pentagon. He later moved to Los Angeles and began working as head of the architectural department for builder Paul C. Shitice in 1924 (Note 2) .
Finkelhor designed homes in a variety of Period Revival styles, commonly incorporating motifs prominent in the design of Oakridge, including stone veneer walls, false half-timbering, multiple gabled roof lines and wood shake roofs. His works include an estate on Mapleton Drive in Los Angeles for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) executive Hunt Stromberg, inspired by an English farmhouse (1932); a home for Harpo Marx at 701 N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills (1938, extant) and a Cape Cod style residence in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles for MGM writer Irving Brecher (1941). Other homes designed as English country estates include the residence of motion picture executive Henry Ginsberg at 918 Whittier Drive in Beverly Hills, (extant) and the former home of Bob Hope at 10346 Moorpark Street in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles (1939, extant). Following Finkelhor's death in 1957, friends and former clients established a full tuition scholarship for fifth year architecture students at University of Southern California.
(1) “Obituary,” Los Angeles Times, 13 May, 1957,C7.
(2) “Architect Appointed Head of Department,” Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 1924
Photo of Robert Finkelhor, Lieutenant Colonel U. S. Air Force courtesy of Kotzin Family.
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Special thanks to the Joe Kotzin and the Robert Finkelhor family for providing a Robert Finkelhor photo and for sharing your family memories.