Villa Rockledge: Historic Treasure or Overhyped Dump--You Decide! [UPDATED WITH ASKING PRICE]

Villa Rockledge: Historic Treasure or Overhyped Dump--You Decide! [UPDATED WITH ASKING PRICE]

Villa Rockledge, a six villa compound with a main house and private beach in Laguna Beach, is up for sale. The asking price is undisclosed $26,500,000 (see here), but it's been renting for $15,000 a week. That must mean they want at least $200,000 for it--even in this depressed market!

Described as a "Historic California treasure by the creators of the fabled Mission Inn," "a mecca for Hollywood's Golden Age" and an entrant on the National Register of Historic Places (Jeez, make up your mind: which is it?), the fabulous property first took shape on high cliffs nearly a century ago. It was the vision of Frank A. Miller and Arthur Benton, developer and architect of Southern California's famous resort hotel the Mission Inn in Riverside. Built on a site Miller purchased in 1887, the estate was created as a gift to his wife, Marion. (Its original name, Mariona, is carved above the entrance.) Construction ran from late 1918 through 1922.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Sure, the castle-like exterior is cute, if that's what you're into. Just remember all those movies where angry townfolk storm the castle. The Mission Inn creators crafted every part of the residence by hand, from the thick cement foundations and retaining walls to the rustic stone towers, large open oceanside porches and ornamental chimneys. Each leaded glass casement window, heavy beam, hand-sanded mahogany floor, wrought iron railing and masterpiece timework was handmade.

If stunning ocean views and your own private beach are your thing, I suppose you can do worse. It's said that an invitation to Villa Rockledge was a highly coveted prize among Hollywood luminaries like Clifton Webb, Robert Mitchum and Errol Flynn, who basked on its private beach. Bette Davis met her future husband there, later marrying him at the Mission Inn. "One must see it from the ocean side to really appreciate its beauty," states the State of California Historic Resources Inventory. Hmmm, why don't they want us to see it from the non-ocean side? What exactly are they hiding? Termite damage? Roof rot? The buried remains of former wives who their husbands said ran off with the tennis instructor to Paris? Inquiring minds want to know!

Again, if you're really into ocean views, this place seems to have them from all directions. Just remember what damage can be done to your eyes from looking at the setting sun too long. "The interior of Rockledge nearly defied verbal description. . . . Miller's imagination produced an array of tasteful splendor," states the National Parks Service report on National Register consideration for Villa Rockledge, which it attained in 1984. Who's wheel had to be greased to come up with that flowery B.S.?

Now here's the problem with a kitchen having a stunning ocean view. You're cooking bacon on the stove top there, hot grease shoots up and lands on your nose, disfiguring it because you had it pointed at that view instead of down at the pan. The real estate agents won't tell you these things, filling your head instead with stuff like "a dazzling array of 'new' Mediterranean and Mission influences aimed at capturing the idealized beauty of Early California." Cheats and liars--every one of them!

No two rooms were alike, say the wags, and--again--this points to a couple problems. No. 1) What modern developer is creating homes where no two rooms are alike anymore? Do you want to live in a relic of the past? Of course not. B) Look at the stunning view on one side of this bedroom and the fireplace on the other. Which am I supposed to settle my gaze upon. It's confusing. Too many notes, like that wig-wearing hump told Mozart. The current owners of the past 35 years have had enough of the madness. "Truly one of the great treasures of California" my ass!

Up next: Heart's Castle--Shitty Ca-Ca Doo-Doo House.


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