USC’s presidential mansion lists for the first time ever at $24.5 million
A slice of Trojan history is up for grabs in San Marino, where the USC presidential mansion just hit the market for $24.5 million. It’s the first time the historic estate has ever surfaced for sale.
Known as the Seeley Mudd estate, the American Colonial-style mansion has housed the university’s presidents for more than four decades. Tradition was upended last year, however, when the school spent $8.6 million on a sleek Santa Monica home for the school’s new president, Carol Folt.
The move is a cost-cutting measure. Due to revenue losses from the pandemic, USC announced a hiring freeze in 2020, as well as a 20% reduction to Folt’s salary.
“The home in San Marino, albeit this stately beautiful home, is a very expensive home to maintain,” USC Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Caruso told The Times last year. “We made the decision, where the board felt we should sell the original home and size down.”
He added that it would’ve cost around $20 million to update the estate.
Not only does the property hold a special place in USC history, it’s also one of the largest and most grandiose residences in the ultra-posh city of San Marino. It spans more than seven acres on land donated by U.S. Army Gen. George Patton and railroad magnate Henry Huntington, who established the Huntington Library a few miles away.
“It’s rare that we have a property that has never been for sale since its construction,” said co-listing agent Brent Chang of Compass. “It’s extremely difficult to find seven acres in L.A.”
The estate centers on a 14,000-square-foot mansion built in 1934 by Reginald Davis Johnson, a Pasadena-based architect whose other works include the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel and the Hale Solar Laboratory.
It’s surrounded by grassy lawns and English rose gardens, which served as the setting for USC dinners, galas and holiday parties over the years. Fountains and forests of sycamores, oaks and Chinese elms spruce up the space.
Inside, the 87-year-old home mixes modern amenities with historic accents. Imported 17th-century wood paneling lines the living room, and other original details include steel windows and walnut floors.
“Not only do the original retractable screens for the windows still work, but USC has kept the original keys for these screens as well,” Chang said. “They are about as large as a dime, so to not have lost them over the years is remarkable.”
There’s also a parlor with a grand piano, formal dining room with fireplace and a breakfast nook with a curved wall of windows. Upstairs, the primary suite has its own sitting room, dressing room and spa bathroom. Sweeping staircases and an elevator navigate the two-story floor plan.
Outside, manicured hedges frame patios with dining areas and fire pits. An outdoor kitchen sidles up to the swimming pool, and at the edge of the property, there’s a sunken tennis court. Other structures include a guesthouse, log cabin and carriage house with a gas station and car wash bay.
At $24.5 million, it’s the priciest property currently on the market in San Marino, according to the Multiple Listing Service.
The home’s historic, formal style is a notable change from USC’s new presidential home — a modern, eco-friendly abode with clean lines and living spaces marked by wood and glass.
Brent Chang of Compass holds the listing with Ernie Carswell and Austin Alfieri of Douglas Elliman.