It takes all these words and more to describe Silver Lake’s own Dana Hollister. Born in Chicago, Dana is the child of an expatriate Californian, who had abandoned his California roots in a family squabble and moved to Chicago to become the black sheep of the Hollister Clan, one of the largest landowning families in California. (The Hollister Ranch Conservancy embraces 8 1⁄2 miles of coastline, extending from Gaviota to just short of Point Concepcion, and north from the shoreline to the top of the first ridge of the Santa Ynez mountains. Its area covers the natural boundaries between Northern and Southern California). Dana nonetheless, grew up in a home of refinement and culture. Her father was a distinguished architect, and her mother, a painter and interior designer. The rich influences of this creative couple spilled over into their precocious child, who idealized her ancestral roots and always knew somehow she belonged here in Southern California!
A 1984 graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, Dana naturally pursued the lifestyle of a designer. She stylized her artistic ethic as “environmental submersion:” the blending or design of everything an artist creates, whether artifacts, interiors, or fabrics to produce a personal and unified vision of “what life should be like”. She cited the signature work of Designer Ralph Lauren as an example. This “environmental submersion” in her case, applies mostly to her vision of couture. Her first career stop was Playboy Magazine, about the only magazine at the time that was coming out of Chicago. During her tenure at Playboy, Dana was responsible for twenty-one covers, draping her models in her glamorous fabrics. Her Playboy experience gave her great travel privileges and while on a business trip to California “met someone and fell in love” and moved to Silver Lake. The relationship didn’t last, and neither did her photography business, but she didn’t give up on her dreams. In her travels, she had become an avid shopper and had acquired a huge collection of antique fabrics from garage sales and close-outs. With no money coming in, she lived in her car two weeks while she gathered the pieces of her life together. Armed with a sewing machine and her fabrics, she started stitching pieces of them together into big designer pillows and took them to a little boutique shop on the west side. She sold one the first day for eighty bucks! To Dana, at the time, that was a lot of money: it was a 1⁄4 of her rent, and it meant food! Before too long, Dana was turning out these one-of-a-kind designer pillows she affectionately refers to as “shabby- chic” couture, and they were selling as quickly as she could make them. They found their way into the showrooms of many high end retailers including Harrod’s, Lord & Taylor and Neiman-Marcus.
In 1991, as she turned thirty, her agent told her that “she needed a store”. Dana didn’t have the money, of course, so her agent went into partnership with her and they opened on Melrose. Her designer pillows and other luxurious fabrics and furnishings were an instant hit. Her list of clients included almost every celebrity imaginable whether “ghosting” or dealing direct. On one of these occasions director Tim Burton dropped in and bought everything in the store. He just loved her stuff. This led to a long standing relationship with Burton. When picking a designer for his corporate office, he naturally chose Dana for the project. Her association with Burton led her to the discovery of the Canfield-Moreno Mansion. While Tim was looking to buy his own personal residence, Dana did some of the detective work for him. It was then that Dana stumbled across the magnificent, storied Silver Lake residence that would later become her home. The Canfield-Moreno Estate is by far the largest estate in Silver Lake, a 1923 Italianate Villa crowning a hilltop in Silver Lake; an estate of over 15,388 square feet on a lot of over 169,000 square feet in a forest of evergreens. It was the former home of Silent Screen Star Antonio Moreno and his socialite wife, Daisy Canfield-Danzinger. Daisy had inherited the property and was putting the finishing touches on the estate when she met and fell madly in love with Antonio. For seven years the couple lived at the Estate, but the marriage was less than a happy one. After Daisy died in an auto accident on Mulholland Drive, an accident that was rumored to be a suicide, Antonio sold the Estate to the Franciscan Order for $200,000 and it was used as a school for underprivileged girls until Dana purchased the property in 1991. (For more details on the Canfield-Moreno Estate, please visit “The Architecture of Silver Lake” on this website).
The story of Dana Hollister’s purchase of the Canfield-Moreno Estate with “no money” is a feat no less than a miracle. It took seven years to close escrow, during which time Dana traveled the world to tell her story and raise funds for the purchase and endowment of the estate. Her relationship with the Franciscan Sisters deepened during the period, when the property fell in and out of escrow several times. The Sisters began to believe that Dana Hollister was indeed the rightful owner of the property and within time her dream was actually realized. While this feat could hardly be duplicated today, it has been the status quo for Dana Hollister. Since acquiring the Canfield-Moreno Estate, she has acquired other interesting Silver Lake properties as well: She recently purchased the old Sunset-Pacific Motel on Sunset which she hopes to transform into a fabulous boutique hotel. She also purchased the old Detour Bar on Sunset which is now the 4100 Club (and adjoining buildings and parking lot). Dana hopes to develop the parking lot into a much-needed parking structure in partnership with the city. (Three cheers! I think everyone in Silver Lake is hoping this parking structure comes into being). Her latest accomplishment is the opening of Cliff’s Edge, a fantastic new restaurant at the corner of Sunset & Edgecliff. (Please see review in “Neighborly Referrals”).
Dana continues to serve Silver Lake as Patroness of the Estate that she owns and administers. Dana has hosted numerous civic and charitable events at the Estate. Her vision of the Estate, now renamed as The Paramour, is one that is inclusive and to be shared by everyone. Wouldn’t it be grand if EVERYONE saw things the same way?