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Fortress-like home protects 85-year-old details

October 25, 2009|Darrell Satzman

George Washington Smith made his name creating Spanish Colonial Revival mansions in Montecito and Santa Barbara from 1917 to 1930, but the Pennsylvania-born architect and painter also left his mark on Beverly Hills, Pasadena and San Marino.

The Osthoff house, on a leafy street a short walk from the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, is a meticulously updated example of Smith's oeuvre that retains much of its original detail.

Built in 1924, the T-shaped structure has few windows facing the street. Instead, light pours into rooms from a pair of walled courtyards.

The home's fortress-like exterior walls feature wrought-iron window grills and light fixtures. Past a wrought-iron gate and stately wooden doors, a two-story foyer offers a first glimpse of design elements found throughout the home, delicately stenciled oak beams, hand-carved corbels, stucco walls and Mexican tile.

A staircase of rust-colored poured concrete winds under a stained-glass Don Quixote, a recent addition that was built to mirror tiles painted by Mexican artist Pedro Sanchez that sit above the fireplace in the library.

The library and a living room flank the entry, and both showcase another Smith trademark: carved wooden shutters covering large rectangular windows that face interior courtyards. Beyond the entry, a towering Moroccan door leads to a formal dining room.

The updated kitchen features a breakfast area, recessed lighting, blue and white Mexican tiles and colorfully stenciled white beams. It opens directly to a huge family room with a vaulted ceiling.

Upstairs, the master bedroom looks out over a large grassy courtyard, with palms, fruit trees, a tiled fountain, an arched loggia and a discreet "courting area." The master bathroom has been updated with a walk-in closet and oversize steam shower.

Three other large family bedrooms are in this upstairs wing, all with balcony access. The remaining three bedrooms were originally servants' quarters. They are reached by a kitchen staircase and are connected to the other upstairs rooms only by an outdoor balcony.

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos with caption and credit information on a CD and a detailed description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions may be sent to



Carefully updated

Location: 1779 Lombardy Road, San Marino 91108

Asking price: $6.8 million

Previously sold for: $1.7 million in 1994

Size: Seven bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms in 6,835 square feet

Lot size: 31,160 square feet

Additional features: Pool and spa, four wood-burning fireplaces, two wine storage rooms, three-zone central air conditioner, three-car garage, security system, covered patio with built-in ProFire grill

Around the neighborhood: In September, 16 single-family homes sold in the 91108 ZIP Code, according to MDA DataQuick, at a median price of $1,355,000. That was a 1.8% price drop from September 2008. There were 49 homes listed for sale last week in 91108 at priced from $947,500 to $9,288,000.

Listing agent: Steve Davis Estates, (626) 796-2707

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