Neff really liked what he did with this place

Times Staff Writer

During the Great Depression, when the average house and lot cost around $5,000 in Pasadena, Caltech aerospace expert Clark Blanchard Millikan lived in a grand home that cost more than five times that amount.

Millikan, internationally recognized for his work in aerodynamics and the son of Nobel Prize winner and Caltech President Robert A. Millikan, married well. His bride, Helen Staats, was the daughter of a wealthy real estate investor who provided the original 3.4-acre lot, which has since been subdivided, according to Pasadena-based building historian Tim Gregory. The home cost $27,900 to build. After it was completed in 1932, it was featured in Architectural Digest.

Master architect Wallace Neff, best known for his glamorous redesign of Pickfair, the legendary 42-room Beverly Hills estate of early film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, also brought his creative artistry to this hacienda-style home. The architect’s son, Wallace Neff Jr., has revealed to the current owners that the Millikan house was one of his father’s favorites.


More authentically Mexican than Neff’s other designs, the home has one of the architect’s signature features -- an outdoor fireplace. He also incorporated heavy-beamed ceilings, multiple fireplaces, tiled and hardwood floors and a terra cotta courtyard into the design.

This gated Spanish Colonial Revival is high on a knoll that offers panoramic views of the Rose Bowl, Brookside Golf Course, the San Gabriel Mountains and the lights of Pasadena. The views are visible from the many rooms that have French doors leading to a balcony, patio, garden, veranda or terrace.

The house has large rooms, including a dining room that seats 24, a master bedroom with a dressing area and vestibule, a family room with a fireplace, and a media room that contains a queen-size-Murphy bed and doubles as guest quarters. There are also two guest rooms, which can be used as rooms for maids, and a home office above an updated, eat-in kitchen that boasts marble counter tops, a large central island, two dishwashers, two sinks and high-quality appliances.

The grounds include a secluded deck, a children’s playground and a pool house with beamed ceilings, a kitchenette and full bath.

About this house: The well-preserved house is potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. Reasons include its association with a significant architect and prominent past owners, including acclaimed Caltech professor Hans Liepmann, winner of both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology. Also, the house is a significant piece of the architecture and history of the neighborhood.

Asking price: $7.9 million

Size: Six bedrooms, seven bathrooms in 9,008 square feet on 2.15 acres

Other features: Wine cellar, home gym, living room, great room, study, den, walk-in pantry and a four-car garage


Where: Pasadena

Listing agent: Gretchen M. Seager, Sotheby’s International Realty, Pasadena office, (626) 229-0909

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, please send color interior and exterior photos on a CD with caption information and a detailed description of the house to Ruth Ryon, Real Estate Section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions may be sent to homeoftheweek