In these makeover-mad, teardown-crazy times, it’s refreshing — occasionally even thrilling — when a vintage home that’s managed to hold onto all or most of its original features surfaces on the market to offer fascinating glimpses at previous eras that no history book can duplicate. In this occasional series, Dirt cracks open noteworthy time capsules for a virtual traipse through the past. Today’s subject flips the calendar pages back to 1958….
On the market for the first time ever, this midcentury ranch on the outskirts of the Angeles National Forest below Mt. Wilson was designed and built by inventor Don Leslie as his personal family residence in 1958. While Leslie’s name may not ring a bell, if you’ve ever listened to the Beatles’ “Revolver,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” or Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” you’ve heard his work — in 1937, utilizing skills he’d acquired from his job as a radio repairman, Leslie invented a speaker to enhance the sound of a Hammond organ so that an organ played in one’s home could sound almost as resonant as one played in a cathedral or theater.
Per his Wikipedia page, Leslie brought his speaker prototype to the Hammond organ company in the hopes of partnering with them, but after being rebuffed by founder Laurens Hammond, started his own company, Electro Music, to produce the speakers. Despite Hammond’s subsequent campaign to drive Leslie out of business, his speakers became a hit with a wide range of musicians, from church organists to prog-rockers to pop stars, and are still highly regarded and sought after to this day. Leslie sold Electro Music to CBS in 1965, but continued tinkering on various audio inventions from his home workshop, eventually amassing more than 50 patents.
Now that workshop and the rest of Leslie’s longtime family residence are ready for re-invention. Sited on nearly an acre, the Altadena time capsule contains five bedrooms, five bathrooms, living room, dining room, family room, sound studio, and media room within its 4,162 square feet.
Notable original interior features include terrazzo floors, walls of glass, a built-in bar, a space age intercom system (the delightfully named “Talk-a-phone”), multiple fireplaces, and a “fully functional pipe organ system,” natch. Outside, there’s a north/south-oriented tennis court, a swimming pool adjoined by an extensive covered patio, a motor court, and a three-car garage. The vacant lot next door, described in online marketing material as a “gently upward-sloping half acre,” is also for sale.