This Century-Old SoCal Home Was Built for a Telephone Industry Pioneer

Doubly armed with inspiration from his travels abroad and a desire to bring the formal home into the countryside, celebrated architect Myron Hunt set out to create this charming Mission Revival home in the Los Angeles suburb of Altadena. Built over a century ago for a prominent businessman and telephone industry pioneer and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the dwelling is filled with eye-catching vestiges of yesteryear; and it’s now on the market, asking a speck under $5.7 million.

“This extraordinary property is a rare and pristine example of Hunt’s architectural brilliance, preserved in its authentic glory,” says Christian Stillmark, who shares the listing at 234 E Mendocino St. with Scott James, both of Douglas Elliman. “Custom-built for the esteemed Welles family, this historic home boasts an array of advanced features that were revolutionary for the early 1900s. This remarkable estate stands as a true time capsule, offering a glimpse into a past era with cutting-edge innovations that continue to impress today.”

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Villa Carlotta Altadena
Seven original Bell telephones connected to intercoms were used by staff to let family members know when meals were served.

Originally commissioned and crafted by the famed Rose Bowl and Huntington Library designer in 1917 for the family of Francis R. Welles, an associate and employee of Alexander Graham Bell, the dwelling is known as Villa Carlotta and was last purchased almost 30 years ago by its current and only third owners, JP and Judie O’Neil. During their tenure, the couple undertook a meticulous restoration and update of the premises, all the while being sure to retain original details like a sleeping porch, a central vacuum system, and seven vintage Bell telephones connected to intercoms in every bedroom that were once used by staff to alert the family when meals were ready.

Also one of the first homes in the city with electrical wiring incorporated into its original plans, the place still has a main panel at the entryway that controls 12 large gravity furnaces in the basement and operational push-button light switches.

Villa Carlotta Altadena
An expansive wood-paneled library doubles as a cozy gathering space.

Found on a lushly landscaped parcel spanning over a half-acre in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the gray stucco, stone-accented and green tile-roof house is fronted by a circular driveway. Inside, seven bedrooms and six baths are spread across 7,000 square feet of two-level living space, which boasts an elevator as well as a wealth of oak and teak paneling, high ceilings, and tall windows throughout.

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A balcony-topped porch features an entry door flanked by sidelights, which opens into a stunning entry foyer displaying a chandelier and a curving staircase. From there, other main-level highlights include a formal dining room, a light-filled recreation room, a music room, and a handsome library featuring a decorative fireplace and built-in bookcases stretching to the ceiling, plus a retro-like kitchen spotlighted by a vintage range and a butler’s pantry.

Villa Carlotta Altadena
The manicured grounds are dotted with mature trees and flowering gardens.

A rear staircase off the kitchen heads upstairs, where the aforementioned sleeping porch currently serves as a den and the spacious bedrooms include one warmed by a fireplace and another with a built-in window seat. There’s also a large basement and attic that could be used for any number of purposes, and outdoors, the grounds are laced with towering trees and host an oval swimming pool, a built-in barbecue, a chicken coop, a “secret” garden, vegetable plots, and plenty of spots ideally suited for al fresco lounging and entertaining.

Click here for more photos of Villa Carlotta.

Villa Carlotta Altadena
Villa Carlotta Altadena

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