Stories abound with respect to the structure called the "Egyptian House," which stood on the creek side of Lucerne Avenue at La Fayette Place. The story of its origin is probably the most poignant.
According to local lore, the property owner, a Mr. Brown, fell in love with an Egyptian princess. He built a home for his princess on Lucerne Avenue in the 1920s. It was distinctive in architectural design, two stories high, with etched windows, gold locks, and all amenities were of the highest quality. There was even an eight foot deep circular swimming pool behind the house. Sadly, the princess died on her voyage to America to marry. The distressed Mr. Brown never moved into the house he built for his intended. Although difficult to verify, I remember my uncle, Frank Lugo spoke of working on the construction of the house, and he described the gold that was being used to enhance it.
In the official city records, the earliest building permit was issued to a Mr. H. D. Brown. The two-story house in question was located at 9530 Lucerne. It had a basement, one kitchen, many rooms and a swimming pool. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the image of an Egyptian Pharoh next to the front door.
City records contain a 1956 business license application for a permit and variance for a rooming house, called "Egyptian Manor". The applicant at that time was a Lakewood resident, Carl Steiner, who received both the permit and the variance. In 1957, although the variance was not renewed, the rooming house continued as a residence for its manager and her family, with eight rooms rented out.
There were police reports in 1961 of a drug arrest, and an application to continue the rooming house was denied. That same year, one report indicated that the police interviewed a dozen residents and all but one living in the house had felony records.
By 1963, the structure had deteriorated and there was interdepartmental correspondence indicating that the premises were a source of concern to the city, with impromptu and planned parties for ten to nearly 200 attendees. Police reported drinking by juveniles, and that a "substantial portion of our delinquency problem stems from there." A document from the Chief of Police, Eugene Mueller, referred to the neighbors as being "up in arms." Other reports cited health issues, stemming from the commonly shared kitchen, and mattresses and furniture strewn all over the house, including the basement. It was suggested that hazardous conditions made the premises unfit for human occupancy.
There was also a reference to the residence serving as a "house of ill repute," and people knowing about it as far away as Santa Barbara.
In early November, 1963, the "Egyptian House" was inspected by a team including Fire, Police, the Building Department and Health Department. My dad, "Capt. Lugo" was listed as one of the police representatives. They found the property littered with debris, some from a recent party, damaged furniture, indications of electrical problems, flooding and the exterior overgrown with weeds and full of rubbish. By spring of the following year, there was a report of a fire, caused by "smoking kids."
A letter was sent to the owner, (no longer Mr. Brown), by the city's Building Official calling the property a "fire hazard, unsanitary, unsafe and has become dangerous to life, safety, morals and the general health and welfare of the occupants and the people of the city of Culver City."
On June 5, 1964, the "Egyptian House" was burned down in a training exercise by the Culver City Fire Department, as was recounted at a Culver City Historical Society picnic by retired firefighter, Matt Matheson.