Vintage SoCal: The crown jewel of Rancho Palos Verdes


Financial journalist turned banker Frank A. Vanderlip Sr. formed a syndicate in 1913 to buy up some 16,000 acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula — land that would eventually be carved into four communities and earn him the nickname “the father of Palos Verdes.”

After commissioning a study to determine the best site for his personal estate, he chose a spot of rugged hillside that squarely faces Santa Catalina Island.

The resulting Villa Narcissa was named for his wife, Narcissa Cox Vanderlip. The 11.46-acre green oasis in Rancho Palos Verdes would be owned by four generations of Vanderlips.


Among luminaries to frequent the Tuscan-style residence, built in the mid-1920s, was close family friend Ted Geisel, the beloved children’s author and illustrator known as Dr. Seuss.

A brick terrace fronts the ocean-view side of the house. Graceful arched windows frame the formal garden-facing door, which is topped by a sculptural frontispiece.

A groin-vaulted ceiling tops the Mediterranean blue dining room, while an intricate dark wood ceiling brings warmth to the living room, which centers on a fireplace. On the opposite wall, windows reveal a horizon line of water.

The 7,700-square-foot main house contains seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two partial bathrooms. There are also 10 guesthouses, a swimming pool and a tennis court on the site.

A gradual 246-step brick and stone walkway flanked by plantings and statuary leads from the house up to a column-sheltered seating and lookout area. Much of the surrounding hillside is protected by a land conservancy.

The property, at 100 Vanderlip Drive, is listed at $12.995 million. Jade Mills and Tiffany Mills of Coldwell Banker and Lauren Forbes of Compass are the listing agents.


This occasional feature celebrates Southern California’s architectural heritage through residences built before 1960. Submit candidates for Vintage SoCal to