History: Yamashiro’s Lost Landmarks

Monkey House Tunnel

Since it first opened in 1914, the Yamashiro grounds have seen many incarnations, from a dream Hollywood hilltop estate built by the Bernheimer brothers, to an exclusive Hollywood hangout in the 1920s, and eventually to the acclaimed Asian-inspired restaurant and public gardens that it is today. But throughout its rich history, many unique structures have disappeared over the years on the grounds of this "Mountain Palace." We would like to share the history of a couple of Yamashiro's original structures that have since been lost, but not forgotten.

The Monkey House, as the name suggests, was built upon the hillside terraces leading up to Yamashiro and housed a collection of monkeys. Pictured is the cave, made of chicken wire and plaster inside, where the monkeys would sleep. Outside the cave were small ponds and swings. In the late 1950s, the house was converted to an apartment by movie star Randy Prince, who turned the Monkey House into a legendary Hollywood party spot. He was known to fill bathtubs with Mai Tai in which guests could dip their glasses in. Later, in 1978, Thomas Y. Glover rebuilt the Monkey House into a comfortable residence that has since been occupied my many Hollywood celebrities throughout the years.

Another original Yamashiro structure that has been lost to history is the Tea House, built at the same time as the Yamashiro main building, it was a model of an authentic Japanese tea house. It was surrounded by beautiful cascades and waterfalls. In the 1950s, actor Pernell Roberts converted it to an apartment, but soon after Pernell moved out of the Tea House it was sadly burned to the ground by a group of vandals. You can still see the original foundation today and the remains of the waterfalls and cascades that once flowed on these grounds.

The next time you visit us you might want to seek out the remnants of these two landmarks of Hollywood history and pay tribute to the unique past of Yamashiro.

The Tea House