Two mansions never previously seen by the public highlight the West Adams Historic Homes Tour today and Sunday.
The tour of 13 turn-of-the-century homes and estates--the fifth to be organized by the West Adams Heritage Assn.--includes five recently refurbished homes and the mansions: the Busby Berkeley Estate, also known as the Guasti Villa, and the Ramsey House/Durfee Estate. Both belong to private foundations and are normally closed to visitors.
The three-acre Durfee Estate, a 42-room, 10,000-square-foot Tudor mansion with a Craftsman interior, was designed by Frederick Roehrig and built in 1908. The house was closed to outsiders from 1927 to 1976 by owner Nellie Durfee, a reclusive widow. Now owned by the Brothers of St. John of God, the interior remains as it was in 1927. The walls, built-in cupboards, beams in the entry hall and the living room are paneled with mahogany and in some places, secured with large pegs. An oversize fireplace has black marble facing and a mahogany mantle. Several large bay windows look over the garden.
Above the staircase are amber yellow, brown and green leaded-glass windows with an art nouveau design. In the dining room, William Morris-style hand-painted fabric, mounted on panels, has been cleaned revealing the original colors.