There is something about celebrity real estate that I find endlessly intriguing — and Jared Leto’s $5 million purchase this week (as reported by Variety) is much more interesting than most.
The Laurel Canyon, California property, formerly known as Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, was built by the U.S. government in the 1941 as a World War II air defense center to coordinate nearby radar installations. Beginning in 1947 — according to a 2010 New York Times article — the property was the headquarters for the military’s secret film unit known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory, which documented over 200 nuclear test detonations in Nevada and the Pacific as well as many other top-secret projects. The unit, comprised of a staff of over 250 producers, directors and cameramen drawn from the military and Hollywood ranks reportedly produced 6,500 secret films which were shown to top government officials, among others. According to this fact sheet, the site contained a full soundstage, two screening rooms, 17 climate-controlled vaults, a bomb shelter, a helipad and two underground parking garages. It was decommissioned from military use in 1968.
To give some context, here’s an undated aerial photo that appears to be from the 1960s. (I noted that the pool shown above apparently wasn’t part of the military compound….)
Image via Wikipedia
It’s unclear (based on my brief research) when the government sold the property, but, according to Variety, it last changed hands in 1994 when it was purchased for $750,000.
Depending on the source, the property is either 100,000 square feet and 2.5 acres or 50,000 square feet and 1.7 acres, and Variety reports that it currently has a theater, a soundstage (being used as a gallery), eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and multiple kitchens.
Here are some photos from the listing — see if you can match them to the original features listed above:
What (I think) was one of the two underground parking garages:
Four (of the 12) bathrooms:
Maybe the stairs lead to the original bomb shelter?!
What appears to be one of the two original viewing rooms. (I’m assuming the spa tub was added in the 1990s).
Images via Hilton & Hyland (head there for more pics!)
What do you think? Was $5 million too much or a steal for this unique piece of history?