Curiosity for Rent: Ternary apartments in Hollywood Hills
A Moorish castle with California Spanish overtones stands at 6205 Temple Hill Drive, seemingly well guarded by a locked gate. This 1915 complex, now a six-unit apartment building, was the site of mystic gatherings and ritual performances, but the biggest secret right now? Getting past that gate.
Passage, however, was simple during a Sunday visit. The gate was ajar, affording photos of the courtyard. Tenants in this upscale rental, called the Ternary and originally built by the Theosophical Society’s Krotona branch, remained sequestered, unlike the more bohemian Krotona apartments a short distance away.
The Krotona colony sought to build utopia in the Hollywood Hills from 1912 until 1924, when the sect moved to Ojai. The Ternary property (from the Latin ternarius, meaning three at once) includes three structures joined by arches and set with a rectangular courtyard framed by 10 towering Italian cypress.
The views, the light and the divine quiet seemed a good match for the $1,645 a month rent for a one-bedroom unit. The entrance to the north wing has double wooden doors set within a pillared canopy and framed with tiles by Arts and Crafts luminary Ernest A. Batchelder, including pairs of Art Nouveau peacocks.
Ternary was designed by architect Alfred Heineman, who also built the Grand Temple of the Rosy Cross, now part of the Krotona apartments. Heineman also slipped Egyptian and Islamic details into the Ternary, including slender keyhole windows near two front turrets.
The Ternary used to include the Italian gardens and lotus pond to the south. According to a paper detailing the Krotona colony published by UCLA researcher Alfred Willis, the garden’s stadium hosted performances such as Sir Edwin Arnold’s "The Light of Asia," a poem about the philosophy and life of the Buddha.
New Yorker and Theosophy devotee Grace Shaw Duff lived in the Ternary during the early Krotona era, along with other inner circle members. The current property owners, Lawrence W. Cho and Noh H. Cho, could not be reached for comment.
For an even rarer look inside Ternary, view these panoramic movie re-creations of what the building may have looked liked new.
-- R. Daniel Foster
Curiosity for Rent, our profiles of novel and notorious apartment buildings, appears here on Wednesdays. Suggest future subjects by emailing [email protected].
North wing entrance detail.
View in another direction.
Photos: R. Daniel Foster