The Ark house, a symbol of a bygone era, is for sale for $8.75 million

It's ranked as one of the most unusual houses in Laguna Beach, and now the residence with a private staircase to the sandy coves is for sale.

The two-story oceanfront home settled high on a bluff overlooking Woods Cove Beach is affectionately known to locals as The Ark, so coined because of its resemblance to a wooden boat. From the home's front deck, which is fashioned like the hull of a boat, stretches — appropriately — a panoramic view of the ocean.

Its wood siding and pyramidal roof with the light bulge add to the maritime image, as do certain interior features, like the hand-carved wooden beams, hand-tied rope work and scattered portholes.

It is a residence so steeped in history that its style has become known over the years as a shining example of the city's unique architecture, and it has remained nearly unaltered for more than 90 years — except for an updating of the kitchens and bathrooms.

The Ark sits at Ocean Way and Moss Point, a desirable location just below Coast Highway where deluxe summer homes were crafted in the early 1920s for the wealthy from out town.

According to city records, actress Bette Davis owned a bluff-top estate just steps away from the property. President Woodrow Wilson briefly stayed at the house next door when he fell ill during a visit to Laguna Beach. And writers lived at The Ark while drafting novels.

The Ark was built in 1923, by Jean-Louise Egasse, a local architect of French heritage who created unique designs — with strong European influences — and helped shape, architecturally, the Laguna image.

His architectural influence spread to Los Angeles, where the Egasse-Braasch House remains a 93-year-old landmark with its white stucco and arched stained-glass windows.

The Los Angeles dwelling was said to be where two aspiring screenwriters, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, lived and wrote Academy Award-winning film "Good Will Hunting."

Laguna city records show that the The Ark was originally built for the Uttley family of Pasadena. The owner was an attorney who located his summer home at Moss Point. It's unknown if he requested that the home to be modeled after a boat.

In 1936, the house was bought by two families, the Fitzgerrells and the Booths, with ownership later transferring to the Fitzgerrells, who stayed there during the summers for over 65 years.

Its current and third owner purchased it in 2004.

The 2,400-square-foot structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes, retains its original hardwood floors, working fireplaces, stained-glass windows, hand-placed stonework and built-in nooks and bookcases.

Adjacent to the oceanview living room is an indoor-outdoor deck and above the semi-detached garage is a studio apartment, apt for a living space or office.

Beneath the studio apartment's staircase is a bathroom. The home's master bedroom can also operate as a family room.

Villa Real Estate is handling the property, which is being offered for $8.75 million. For more information, visit 2191oceanway.com.

kathleen.luppi@latimes.com

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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