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The McGinley Residence – Where Robert F. Kennedy Is Said to Have Spent His Last Night

Sep 7th, 2012 | By | Category: This and That

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Another Lafayette Square-area home that was mentioned in the “Affairs of Estate” article that I blogged about yesterday was the property located at 1821 South Victoria Avenue, where, according to author Ann Herold, Robert F. Kennedy spent the last night of his life.  And while that assertion would be extremely hard to prove (and some sites speculate that the senator’s last night was spent either at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City or the Malibu home of director John Frankenheimer), because the Victoria Avenue residence belonged to RFK’s godfather’s son at the time, it is an entirely likely possibility.  So after stopping by the incorrectly identified Leave It to Beaver house this past Saturday afternoon, I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on over to stalk the place.

The residence that originally stood at 1821 South Victoria Avenue was constructed in the Prairie School-style by Emmett G. Martin in 1924.  In 1939, McGinley Oil Company-heir Charles E. McGinley commissioned Paul R. Williams – the legendary architect who also designed the now-defunct Perino’s restaurant (which I blogged about here) and the Just Married mansion (which I blogged about here) – to remodel and enlarge the dwelling.   What ended up happening, though, according to the Paul R. Williams Project website, was a complete refab after which only the original home’s foundation remained.  McGinley also purchased two neighboring plots of land during that time, essentially tripling the size of his lot.  Williams’ remodel, which became known as the McGinley residence, transformed the house into a Classical Regency Revival-style manse and enlarged the property to 6 bedrooms, 4 baths, and 5,952 square feet.  At the time, the place looked quite a bit different than it does today.  While the façade remains exactly the same shape as it did during the 1939 re-construction, it appears as though the abode was originally painted white, as you can see here.  I prefer the unpainted red brick, myself, as it reminds me of the Home Alone house – one of my favorite movie houses of all time.

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As I mentioned above, Charles McGinley’s father, oil tycoon Walter T. McGinley, was Robert F. Kennedy’s godfather.  And although Walter passed away in 1932, more than thirty years before RFK was assassinated, it is entirely plausible that Kennedy and his family spent some time with Charles while in the area that week – including the night of June 3rd, 1968, Kennedy’s last full night alive.  Late the next evening, June 4th, it was announced that the senator had won the California Primary and he gave a short speech in the Embassy Room of the Ambassador Hotel just after midnight on June 5th.  Following the speech, Kennedy and his entourage exited through the Ambassador’s kitchen area, where he was shot four times by Sirhan Sirhan.  RFK was first taken to Central Receiving Hospital and then Good Samaritan Hospital where he passed away at 1:44 a.m. on June 6th, almost 26 hours after he had been shot.  You can check out a more detailed chronology of his assassination on the fabulous FindADeath website here.

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Ironically enough, while we were stalking the McGinley residence, the owners’ son-in-law happened to come outside and we got to chatting.  When I mentioned the recent Los Angeles Magazine article and his in-laws’ home’s connection to Robert F. Kennedy, the gentleman was absolutely bowled over with excitement and ran right inside to let them know the news.  I so love it when homeowners are not only nice about me taking photographs of their property, but are also excited about to learn new things about their residence’s history.  Smile

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You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER. And be sure to check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The McGinley residence, where Robert F. Kennedy is reported to have spent his last night, is located at 1821 South Victoria Avenue in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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