This past Monday was a dark, dark day in the world of outrageous lawn ornamentation as the Los Angeles Times confirmed news that Norwood Young, the owner of Youngwood Court (AKA the House of Davids AKA that crazy house in Hancock Park with all the nude statues in the front yard AKA Matt Hickman’s favorite home in Los Angeles), plans to sell his sprawling white ranch home on West 3rd Street and South Muirfield Road for $2.1 million after over a decade of shocking neighbors and stopping traffic. And Young doesn’t seem to give toss if whomever buys his home keeps or promptly removes the 19 miniature replicas of Michelangelo’s David standing on pedestal columns that line the semicircular driveway in his front yard. My guess is that Youngwood Court’s new owner will opt for the latter.
Witnessing the subversive splendor of Youngwood Court firsthand will forever be ingrained in my memory. Several years ago, I lived in Los Angeles and on my second or third day in town, my boxes hardly unpacked, a friend accompanied me on a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s followed by a quick drive around town.
“There’s something that you need to see,” my friend told me as she barreled down Beverly Boulevard and took a sharp left on Rossmore heading south.
“What is it?” I asked.
“A house, she said. “You’ll see.”
Looking out my window of my friend’s VW Bug, the gates to the Wilshire Country Club and the immaculate lawns of Hancock Park's stately manses whizzed by — I figured we were going to see my very first celebrity home; an inaugural star tour … how thoughtful of her. I was wrong.
She drove me straight past Youngwood Court without much warning and was only able to slow down just a slight bit given that 3rd Street isn’t exactly the type of street you'd want to rubberneck at 5 miles an hour on during rush hour. Still, I got a good look.
“Did you see that?”
And that’s all I could say. I was dumbfounded, delighted, and mostly disoriented. What in the world was that
? Who in the hell lived there? And why David? That moment, seeing Youngwood Court for the first time was my definitive “welcome to Southern California” moment and I’ll never, ever forget it. And sure, Youngwood Court is not a "green home" in any way but it will forever be one of my favorite homes simply because of its sheer audacity. Plus, I love when homeowners association members get the chance to say things like
: "It is like spitting in somebody's eye. It is individualism run amok."
The questions I had that surreal afternoon in my friend's car were answered in a recent Los Angeles Times piece about the not-so-famous Norwood Young and his notorious home. In fact, the reason that Young, a hardworking R&B singer and activist who never quite made it big, is selling his
6-bedroom home to downsize — “There's 22 rooms in my home. I utilize five of them. I see myself in a smaller place, most certainly” — and move East to be closer to his family because he’s jealous
of it. As the L.A. Times
says, “The House of Davids became an L.A. celebrity. Norwood Young the singer did not.”
So why David, the reason Youngwood Court attracts so much attention in the first place? Young explains to the L.A. Times:
That statue represents myself and things that I've had to defeat in my life. So it wasn't like I was just this wacky guy who wanted 20 p****es on his lawn. That's not the way I roll.... Unfortunately, the neighbors and other people never took the time to wonder if there was a reason....
Young, who couldn’t give a “rat’s behind” about what happens to his 19 Davids, contemplates the future:
What's next is to be totally committed to what I think my purpose is — what I know my purpose is — and that's my music. Whatever celebrity comes from that, then it's fine — but not based on the house. I'm ready for an existence without the house.
Wow. To learn more about one of the more bizarre (and bittersweet) real estate tales that I’ve come across in quite a while, head over to the L.A. Times for the full story
along with an audio slideshow
. It's certainly the only "struggling singer sells his $2 million dollar home because he's jealous of the attention it receives" you'll read all month. Or ever. Also worth reading is this L.A. Times article
from 1997 when the home was just starting to attract (negative) attention from the Hancock Park HOA.
Here's hoping that if Young's 19 Davids (and the busts of Caesar on the roof as well) are indeed removed, that they find a loving home — a retirement villa for celebrity statuary? — and that Young, wherever he winds up, is able to enjoy a fresh start and take it easy on the lawn decor this time around.
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