“It’s easy to think of the past as a sort of old movie where people live orderly lives in fine homes. The present seems vivid and bright, the past a distant gray; but for those who lived them, past days were as just clear and sharp and as filled with colors, and smells, passions and heartaches.”
-Thomas from Fairfield House
As a teenager, I could hardly wait to move away. I remember bumping along narrow country roads, counting the days til I could trade all the dust and ditches for bright lights in a big city. I moved to Minneapolis as soon as I was old enough to leave, then quickly decided to give Atlanta a whirl for a while, then jetted off to Hollywood a couple of years later. I moved eight times in eight years out there (weeee!) and, although I also love it here in sweet home Alabama, I sure miss California too. I wasn’t really into interior design back then, but now I sort of wonder…are there historic farmhouse-style houses near L.A.?
Stand by. (Searching Google)
Okay, I’m back. Check. This. OUT!
A Queen Anne, built in 1887, sitting right there in Altadena! For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Altadena is adjacent to Pasadena, which is adjacent to Los Angeles. The home was built by well-known map maker, Andrew McNally. It’s surrounded by palm, citrus, and olive trees, deodar cedars, broad green lawns and, of course, lots of sunshine.
(Large aviary for McNally’s exotic birds)
Online listings describe it as “grand, exotic, and eccentric” and apparently nearly all of its nineteenth-century features remain intact, from the clear heart, vertical-grain Douglas fir paneling and carved woodwork to the 24 (working) gas lamps—including three chandeliers—to the ornate, bronze, steam radiators, which also still work!
(Light-filled master bathroom)
(One of two butler’s pantries)
(The Turkish Room)
The property started out as 12 acres back in the day but sits on less land today because parts of it have been sold to new neighbors. You can see the McNally house right above the words “Christmas Tree Lane” in the photo below:
I would’ve loved to have seen that same aerial view when that land was covered in his flower gardens! Here’s one that was taken at street level around the year 1900:
(A view of McNally’s garden from Deodara Drive, circa 1900)
Apparently, the current owner bought it 65 years ago, and this is the first time in 100 years that it has been on the market publicly. How wild is that? Can you guess the price? I’ll let you think about a number and then I’ll reveal the answer at the end of this post. 😉
After seeing the house, I wanted to know more about the man who had it built, too. Turns out, he was born in 1838 to Scottish parents in Northern Ireland. As a boy, he was indentured to a printer and then, at age 19, he emigrated to the United States and took a job in Chicago for printer, William Rand. Together they established Rand, McNally & Co. and at age 42, and multi-millions of dollars later, he made his first trip to California, where a stop near Pasadena changed his life. He was enamored with the benevolent climate, fresh air, good soil, and the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. He was immediately determined to build a winter home there and to become a “gentleman farmer.” 🙂
I searched and searched for photos of him at the home, but was only able to find this one:
I’m assuming that’s him sitting in the chair on the left. ?
I hope whoever buys the house does a good job of caring for it. What a neat piece of history! And all 7,000 square feet of it can be all yours for just…….
Or you can snap up this 5,000-square-foot beauty (that was built just 8 years after the McNally house was, in 1895) located right here in sweet home Alabama:
Here’s an old photo of it from back in the day:
It’s got 7 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The listing reads, “Beautiful pine floors, original mantels, wainscoting, spool work detail, bay windows, & porches on 3 sides! The 1.7 acres lot is level and tree-shaded with a brick carriage house in the back“. Can you guess the price?
This listing says $115,000.
I’ve changed my mind about dirt roads and ditches, y’all. 😉