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Mansions Could Be Turned Into Inns

March 03, 1985|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Two mansions in Redlands may soon become bed-and-breakfast inns if the city adopts a proposed ordinance, scheduled for a second reading this week.

"At this point, I think the ordinance will be approved," City Clerk Lorrie Poyzer said. Although the bed-and-breakfast movement is a rapidly growing industry throughout California, it has met with considerable opposition in Redlands.

"I think the people in Redlands are beginning to realize that they must do something to preserve the older homes," Poyzer said. However, each time the city considers an application for the conditional-use permit required by the new ordinance, she expects to hear some protests.

"I can't say that I blame them," she said. "I live in an older residential neighborhood, and I'm not sure that I would want a commercial enterprise there."

Redlands (population: 49,000) is one of the older communities outside Los Angeles and it has some of the most spectacular old homes. Among these are the Burrage and Morey mansions, which would become bed-and-breakfast inns if the city gives the go-ahead.

Carl Ljundstrom, who owns the Morey mansion with his partner, Gary Conway, said, "The Lotitos came to Redlands and started the idea of bed-and-breakfasts here 2 1/2 years ago." Jim and Maribeth Lotito, who own Carlos O'Brien's restaurants in La Verne and Riverside, bought the Burrage mansion then with the idea of turning the 16,000-square-foot house with 21 bedrooms and 14 fireplaces into a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Built by millionaire lawyer Albert Burrage in 1900, the Moorish-style mansion, on 17 acres, also has its original clay tennis court and what Maribeth Lotito claims is the first indoor swimming pool in California.

The Morey mansion is smaller--it's just under 5,000 square feet--but it's also impressive with its hand-carved woodwork, use of redwood and golden oak, and "painted lady" Victorian exterior--"Altogether, we used 13 colors," Ljundstrom said.

The house was built by orange rancher and shipbuilder David Morey in 1890, two years after Redlands was incorporated. In the 1940s, it was owned by actress Carole Lombard's uncle, who left it to Lombard when he died, according to Ljundstrom. But she died in an airplane crash before she could take ownership.

Ljundstrom bought it with Conway in 1980. The mansion, at 190 Terracina Blvd., is open, along with a $20,000 miniature of it, for tours Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m., and by appointment.

You can't buy anything on New York's Park Avenue or L. A.'s "Golden Mile" along Wilshire Boulevard from Beverly Hills to Westwood for $150,000, but the same amount will buy a large two-bedroom apartment in some fashionable residential areas of London--places like Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.

That's what John Glaister of Douglas Elliman Knight Frank Inc., a New York-based real estate brokerage, appraisal and property management firm, contends, based on what he hears from his firm's London-based affiliate, Knight Frank & Rutley.

"The collapse of the British pound against the dollar means that the relative purchasing power of people buying property in dollars, particularly residences in central London, has been substantially increased," he said. The British pound is now worth about $1.08 in contrast with $2.40 in 1981.

"Indeed," he added, "there is much evidence that the growing number of dollar-paid businessmen working for multinational concerns cannot resist the attractions of an investment in property in London either by 'trading up' or by acquiring second homes."

Five seems to be a lucky number when it comes to a house once owned by singer Dean Martin and his ex-wife, Jeannie.

When the house was last on the market 1 1/2 years ago, the fifth person to see it with real estate broker Jeff Hyland bought it.

Now that the 10,000-square-foot house with tennis court on 1 3/4 acres in Beverly Hills is for sale again, Hyland has had a similar experience. "I showed it four times and the fifth person who saw it made an offer," he said.

The house has one more connection with the number 5. It was built in the '50s and was remodeled a few years ago. It's listed at $7.9 million with Alvarez, Hyland & Young.

Contrary to popular belief, not all celebrities change their main residences at the twitch of an eyebrow. Some have lived in the same houses for 30 to 40 years.

Among these, Frank Liberman, a Hollywood publicist for 34 years, counts James Stewart, Lucille Ball, Irene Dunne, Ann Miller, Eddie Albert and composer John Green.

Then there are those who have lived in the same places, he says, for "20 years or so"--Bob Newhart, Don Rickles, Cesar Romero and Loretta Young.

"All would be instant millionaires if they wanted to sell, because they bought these houses when things were cheap," Liberman said.

Of course, some or even all could already be millionaires like one of Liberman's most famous clients: Bob Hope.

And Hope has lived in the same house in Toluca Lake since 1938.

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