In 1928, Pasadena’s stunning new City Hall had just been unveiled … and one of its architects was putting the finishing touches on another masterpiece. Mansions were blooming in the enclave that was once part of the vast Huntington Estate. This Italian Renaissance Revival stunner, inspired by a 16th Century palazzo, was ready for its closeup.
Apprenticed under distinguished Pasadena architect Reginald Johnson, Pasadena-born Lawrence C. Test would later serve as University Architect at USC. Test was a master at creating mansions of simplicity, spaciousness and calm, with flowing rooms, carefully chosen textures and rich, subdued colors. Known for his careful siting of buildings, he had positioned the home on a flat, half-acre-plus lot to take full advantage of light, air, and leafy views.
In the seven-bedroom home, a large formal entry ushered guests into a breathtaking living room with lavish carved wood ceiling, fireplace and massive Palladian doors and windows overlooking the main terrace. French doors in the formal dining room opened to a rear terrace and loggia. Large, private formal gardens surrounded a lily pond. Guests relaxed in the formal library, with its heavy mahogany doors and walls lined in sumptuous red velvet.
87 years later, the home’s effect is still as the architect envisioned it. The patios and expansive private grounds welcome memorable al fresco entertaining, and a stone-bordered pool has joined the lily pond. The glorious gardens of Henry E. Huntington’s nearby Beaux Arts mansion, now one of the world’s treasured cultural centers, are moments away. So is the distinguished California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where a roster of chamber and folk music performances, lectures and performing arts are always on offer. (In fact, this home was owned for decades by Drs. James and Marianne Olds. He was Bing Professor of Behavioral Biology at Caltech and is renowned for co-discovering the existence of “pleasure centers” in the brain. She ran a neuroscience lab at Caltech.)
The home has just been listed by Sarah Rogers of Aaroe Estates for $3,995,000. “Of course walking through these grand formal spaces is a breathtaking experience,” says Rogers. “But although the feeling is luxurious, it’s never imposing.” Exactly the kind of reaction Mr. Test would have loved to hear.