The Beach House, in Escondido, Calif., about 30 miles north of San Diego, is oxymoronically more than 15 miles from the coast. The name comes not from its location but from the original owner: it was built in 1896 for real estate broker and insurance salesman Albert H. Beach and his wife Anna.
Beautifully preserved, the iconic home is filled with historic charm, attention to the minutest period detail, and more Victorian wallpaper than even most Victorians ever saw. The house, with four bedrooms and three baths and 3,300 square feet of living space, is set on nearly half an acre, and is available for $2.34 million via Courtney Luna de la Fuente at Compass. Listed on the Register of Historic Places, the house qualifies for California’s Mills Act, which reduces property taxes by as much as 70%.
It all started back in 1887, when Albert Beach purchased the land. By 1896, the Queen Anne style house was finished, but after only four years, the Beaches sold up and moved to Los Angeles where Albert took on a massive development project in the Hollywood Hills. To this day, Beachwood Canyon, above which sits the famous Hollywood sign, bears his name.
The house changed hands several times over the next 90-some years, and in 1997 art dealer and collector Harry Parashis and his wife, Letitia, bought the place and spent several years restoring it. For most people, this much Victoriana would be too much, but it’s nonetheless admirable when an owner just stone-cold goes for it. Damn the torpedoes!
Bradbury & Bradbury, a Bay Area outfit that specializes in hand-printed 19th and 20th century wall coverings, supplied the many different kinds of wallpaper, borders, and ceiling papers for the project. Ceilings? That’s right. Wallpapered ceilings were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. The roomsets — the various wallpapers and borders used within a room — were carefully selected to complement one another. The house subsequently won many design awards, and in 2001 was the subject of the PBS TV show Restore America.
Much larger than any other in Escondido’s historic district, the plot is formally landscaped with hedges, mature wisteria, and a Victorian fountain. There are also numerous porches and patios to enjoy the California sunshine, as well as a really cute Victorian gazebo.
Inside, a spacious foyer and formal living and dining rooms are joined by a secondary parlor, an up-to-date kitchen, and a breakfast room. In addition to the bedrooms, there’s a granny attic.
The house still boasts many of its original features, including the mahogany trim work, oak floorboards, staircase and windows. Plumbing and light fixtures are period appropriate, as are the several fireplaces. But of course, modern conveniences such as new electrical, plumbing and solar systems have been installed.
Make a deal to include the furniture (as it matches perfectly) and get ready to party like it’s 1896!