DelanoBy Deb R. Brimer
Contributing Writer

If the walls of this timeless 1914 treasure could talk, what name-dropping stories they could tell! Some of the world’s most notable structures are among the works of award-winning New York architect, William Adams Delano, including palatial mansions for the Rockefeller family and Otto Kahn. But Chestnut Court was his personal haven that he designed for himself.

Located at 2 Chestnut Court in Muttontown, New York, this 6,100-square-foot stucco Tudor contains two and three levels, eight bedrooms, five-and-a-half baths, and an immaculately-landscaped two-acre estate with a stone patio, wooden deck, and swimming pool.

(more…)

NeutraWhen shipbuilder John Rados purchased a large, hillside lot overlooking the Port of Los Angeles in the 50s, he turned to a fellow Austro-Hungarian to create a home that would put those views to best use — Richard Neutra.

Rados fled the Austro-Hungarian Empire with his family 50 years prior to the purchase of that land, and by then his family had built the Harbor Boat Building Company into one of the country’s most prolific shipbuilding firms.

Neutra was a wise choice for the Rancho Palos Verdes, California, land, as he was known for his unfussy post-war design that showcased the phenomenal views available in Southern California.

And this 1957 home, which is believed to be his biggest, showcases Neutra’s design philosophy, which emphasized a “ready-for-anything” plan that relied on open living spaces that were flexible and easily transformed for any need.

A long, private drive leads to a home that, from the front elevation, is unassuming. Behind those walls, however, is a 4,000 square foot home that has been carved from the hillside, using terrazzo floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, sliding glass doors, and marine-grade wood beams to make open spaces that still feel cozy, with 270-degree views of the LA basin, the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Jacinto Mountains, and Dana Point.

“Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, living room, television room, two dining rooms, and a downstairs family room with a full bar add to the laissez-faire informalities of the idealized postwar housing experience,” said listing agent Matthew Berkley with Deasy/Penner and Partners.

An oversized swimming pool and deck incorporate a nod to the Rados family business — a repurposed porthole window and door from a ship the company was building.

The home is listed for $4.1 million. To see more of 2209 Daladier Drive, click here.

WeatherfordOnly four families have owned the Victorian mansion on an acre at the corner of Lamar Street and Columbia Street in Weatherford, and now some history-loving buyer will be the fifth.

The home, which sits at 304 S Lamar St., was first home to John D. Baker, a prominent Weatherford resident who started construction on the home intended for he and his wife, Alice, and their growing family, in 1893.

Baker, according to family lore, moved to Hood County from Alabama before finally settling in Weatherford and partnering with another businessman to form Baker-Poston Dry Goods, which ultimately had several store locations in the north central part of Texas.

But the dry goods enterprise wasn’t his only business. He was also head of The Famous Shoe Store; a member of the wholesale grocery company Cameron, Hill and Baker; president of the First National Bank; director of the Crystal Palace Flouring Mills; and had a hand in helping establish Weatherford College.

(more…)

caponeIt was his first home in Chicago, and his mother lived there until her death, and in 2019, you could own a slice of Al Capone history for practically a song.

“I came to Chicago with $40 in my pocket,” Alphonse Gabriel Capone said once, and not long after that he began working for mobster Johnny Torrio. Not long after that, he and his family moved into the six bedroom, two apartment Park Manor home located at 7244 South Prairie Ave.

“This was the Chicago home of Al Capone and Family. Al Capone and family began to move into the place on August 8,1923,” explained listing agent Ryan Smith with Re/Max Properties. “The ownership was under Mae and Theresa Capone.”

(more…)

Not Thomas Lincoln

There’s the Lincoln Property Company I typically have a beef with, and then there’s Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. We’re talking about the latter here.

Back in 1841, Lincoln’s father, Thomas, wasn’t rolling in dough, and a 32-year-old Abraham helped him out by purchasing 40 acres of farmland outside Charleston in central Illinois. At the time, Lincoln was a state representative for Sangamon County (home to state capital Springfield) some 90 miles away. What’s also chronologically interesting is that 1841 was also the time Lincoln called off a marriage with Mary Todd before a reconciliation and the birth of their first child, Robert Todd Lincoln some two years later.

Yesterday, the original 40-acre parcel is now 30, and has for the past 30 years been part of a 590 acre farm that was sold at auction (on Lincoln’s birthday). The Times-Courier and Mattoon Journal-Gazette reports that on Feb. 12, 2019, 560 acres sold for $7,000 per acre, or $3.9 million. The Lincoln 30 acres were sold separately for $10,000 per acre, or $300,000 to an unnamed buyer with unknown plans for the site.

How the 40 acres became 30 is just what happens over time.

(more…)

AspenWhile the house itself may look a bit different from when John Denver and his wife Annie bought it in the 1970s, the Aspen estate still has the views that inspired him to write “Starwood in Aspen.”

The local couple that bought the home in 2016 put the home on the market last month, after doing extensive remodeling, telling the Denver Business Journal that they installed new floors, and replaced the windows and the roof. They took pains to save the fireplaces, stained-glass work, copper sinks and fixtures, and the cabinetry, which was refinished and, in places, repurposed.

Denver purchased the home, and expanded it while he lived there. (more…)

chapelThis week’s historical shelter takes us to the village of North Lopham, Norfolk, England, where a Methodist chapel built in 1826 shows us that you can never, ever, judge a book by its cover.

The former chapel that once contained three bays, is now an open floor plan sitting on a little more than a half acre of land. And as you know, we’re suckers for a good church conversion.

Listed by Bedfords, the 2,245 square foot conversion takes advantage of the grand proportions you’d expect of a chapel, creating a light-filled interior that is anything but stuffy. Curved walls were designed intentionally to draw the eye up.

(more…)

RiversideHe designed 33 homes in Riverside, California, and the one acclaimed architect Robert Spurgeon Jr. built for his parents, Robert Sr. and Lillian, is now up for grabs.

Riverside, albeit landlocked in the Inland Empire, is actually an ideal second home location for a few factors — it’s an easy hour drive to the beach, and less than 45 minutes to Disneyland, for one. It’s also home to Fairmount Park, an urban oasis with a stocked pond that is a refuge to several species of birds — and designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park.

And back in the day (in fact, when we say “back in the day” in this case, we mean exactly around the time Spurgeon built this home), Riverside’s close proximity to Hollywood, along with all its interesting architecture, made it one of the frequent spots film studios would pick for the perfect scenery for their movies, including the 1919 film Boots, starring Dorothy Gish.

On days you don’t want to drive to the beach or Disneyland, there is still plenty to do closer to home. The California Citrus State Park (Riverside is believed to be the birthplace of California’s citrus industry) provides ranger-led tours, fruit tastings, and more.

You can also tour the historic Mission Inn, and hike up to Mount Rubidoux, and the University of California Riverside offers 39 acres of botanic gardens, plus several museums.

From left: Robert Spurgeon Sr., Lillian, granddaughter Gloria, daughter Grace, and Robert Spurgeon, Jr. Right: An early photo of the home Spurgeon designed for his parents (Photo courtesy Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery).

It was this town that the Spurgeon family ended up settling in, living before in Chicago, New York, and Denver. His parents moved there not long after the younger Sturgeon returned to the country after serving in World War II, to assist his sister after her husband died. He joined the rest of the family not long after that, eventually building homes and properties all over Riverside, including the employee homes for Pinkerton Detective heir Allan Pinkerton, the rebuilding of the Porter House, and the Elijah Parker House. (more…)