Petitfils Residence

Petitfils Residence
Petitfils Residence, photo by Charles J. Fisher, 2007

Petitfils Residence, Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #916

Built: 1926  Declared: 04/08/2008

This residence was designed in 1926 by the renowned architect Wallace Neff for Lain Evart (Edward) L. Petifils and his wife, Julia C. Petifils, in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Edward Petifils was the former President of Richfield Oil Company. The house displays many of the signature design elements that Wallace Neff used during this period, such as a, arched doorways, vaulted ceilings, interior tile work and wood paneling. Edward Petifils passed away in 1936, Julia in 1940. Their son, Raymond sold the house the following year. It went through several owners until March 21, 1952, when it was acquired by Chong A. Chock. The Chock Family was there until 1993.

Wallace Neff was one of the premier architects of mid-20th Century Los Angeles. His homes were each unique and well-suited for their sites. Neff, who was the grandson of Andrew McNally, the co-founder of the map-making Rand McNally Company, was responsible for many of the homes enjoyed by the area’s rich and famous. His specialty was in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Homes such as the famous “PickFair,” designed for Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., would make Neff famous. Neff soon became one of a select handful of architects repeatedly tapped by wealthy Californians to design their dream homes. The Petifils Residence was one of Neff’s earlier works, displaying a grandeur that catches the eye while retaining a simplicity that makes it both comfortable and easy to live in. Since Neff was brought back to do the redesign after a disastrous 1929 fire had destroyed a good portion of the structure, the newer portions blend so well with the original house that there are no transition lines or variations of architectural style in the structure. The house originally commanded a grand view over Vermont Avenue, but the frontage was sold off after World War II and the home is now more secluded behind the later structures.

Edward Petifils had arrived in Los Angeles in 1903 after working in the Oklahoma Oil Boom at the turn of the 20th Century. He became wealthy in both the oil and building industries, ultimately becoming the President of Richfield Oil Company.