The Andrew McNally Estate

No expense was spared for Andrew McNally’s three-story Altadena mansion. The great map maker used his expansive estate as his own personal calling card for those shivering in the Midwest or along the Eastern seaboard, beckoning them to the luxe life available only in Southern California. His home embodied the bounty of the San Gabriel Mountains: palm trees and deodar cedars, citrus and olive trees, broad green lawns and sunshine, even a large aviary for exotic birds to match the colorful array of flowers McNally planted throughout the then 12-acre estate. While there is less land today, the distinctive blue-shingled estate still presides over the valley below, with views out to Catalina Island.

Adjectives to describe McNally’s nearly 7,000-square-foot house are easy to come by: grand, exotic, eccentric. Every element of the 22-room home (with nine bedrooms, five bathrooms, and seven fireplaces) brings forth an example of rich, original detail. Nearly all of its 19th-century features remain intact, from the carved woodwork and paneling of clear heart vertical grain Douglas fir to the jeweled stained-glass windows; from the 24 gas lamps—including two chandeliers and several wall sconces—to the ornate bronze steam radiators. (The lamps are still in good working order, as are the radiators, under the calm command of the aristocratic original bronze boiler in the basement.)

The home is spacious in a way that is unheard of today. On the ground floor, large public rooms have generous windows in which tall and taller ceilings flow out from the open foyer, with its pocket doors of wood and leaded glass. A grand wooden staircase (whose startling detailing anticipates the work of Viennese modernist Otto Wagner) rises to the second floor. A two-sided double fireplace separates the living room from an intimate hideaway of sitting room/library/family room; both rooms feature ornate floral stenciling on the coved ceilings. The dining room is beamed and paneled with its own fireplace, capped with an articulated crown of dentil molding and a built-in sideboard. An additional servant’s wing and the legendary Turkish Room were added in 1897.

Based on an 1885 illustration, the handsome carriage house/garage east of the main house was constructed in 1971 to replace the original that was destroyed by fire in 1926. The only non-original room is the modernized kitchen, adjacent to two light-filled, intact butler’s pantries that feature beautiful cabinetry and high ceilings.

This property is represented by Matt Berkley of deasy/penner. For more

information, contact Berkley at 626-665-3699 or

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