Tour shows off Laguna charm

Barbara Diamond

It is only a happy coincidence that the annual Charm House Tour comes

smack in the middle of Heritage Month, which the city has celebrated for

a decade.


The tour has been a Village Laguna tradition for 30 years. Five homes

from cottages to castles -- and one bonus carriage house -- will be

opened to the public May 19. An opportunity to see the variety of homes

and lifestyles that make up Laguna’s quirky architectural diversity and


unique charm.


Three generations of the Ingwerson family live at Sea Castle,

considered in some circles to be one of the finest residences on the

south coast. Lona and Donald Ingwerson reside in the English Tudor-style

house where America’s Sweetheart Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks once

threw lavish parties.

About 10 feet away, the Ingwerson’s daughter, son-in-law and two


grandchildren live in the contemporary carriage house on the property.

Repeat tour-goers may get a sense of deja vu when they visit the Sea

Castle. The Ingwersons’ first home in Laguna was The Castle. It was

featured on the Charm House Tour three years ago. All the furnishings

went with them when they moved to the Sea Castle.

“We didn’t have to buy a stick of furniture when we moved,” said Lona


Actually, the only problem with The Castle was that it didn’t sit on


an oceanfront bluff, the dream location for the Ingwersons when they

moved to California from Kentucky. They sure weren’t house hunting when

they stumbled on the Sea Castle looking for another address. It took a

few days to get a Realtor to let them inside the place, which they had

already decided to buy.

“This is you,” said their daughter, who was with her parents.


Saul and Patty Pinto own The Kodak home, built in 1936 by the Eastman

Family of Rochester, New York. The Pintos have enhanced the commanding

ocean views by adding a rounded facade and terrace. Wide-plank, pegged

oak floors, iron painted windows, mahogany woodwork and a flagstone

fireplace are cherished vintage features.

Wrought iron and tile roofs are original to the house.


Sixty years ago, two teachers enjoyed life in their tiny hillside

cabin overlooking Aliso Beach. Their first names were Caroline and Ruby,

from which the house was named. When Caruby Corner was built, Coast

Highway was just a dirt road. It passed in front of the Kodak House. A

hiking trail is still there. The home has grown since then into a small

estate, but the hardwood floors, now stained ebony to set off the white

interior, are original. Also original: the gnarled trunk of a rare

eucalyptus, an old Canary Island pine and a stone pond.

Stephen and Sandy Arterburn are the current owners.


Architect Aubrey St. Clair built Old Laguna in 1929 for the Bird

family, original owners of the White House restaurant. Rumor has it that

LSD guru Timothy Leary lived across the street from the Spanish

Revival-style home during the 1960s hippie era. One thing is for sure:

former Laguna Beach Police Chief Neil Purcell, then a rookie in the

Laguna Beach department, busted Leary for possession of marijuana and

made it stick, the only police officer who can make that claim. Old

Laguna owners Mark and Cindy Evans have restored the estate to its

original design. The restoration uncovered French doors and windows

hidden in stucco walls. The garden, including a glass-paneled potting

shed and tool house, have been featured on the Laguna Garden Club Tour

and in International Garden magazine. A Malibu-tile fountain splashes in

the Spanish-style courtyard.


A small colony of Russian immigrants settled in Laguna Beach in the

1920s. The brother of Ruth St. Denis Dance Company ballerina Tatania

Gnoocheff, Barton built a one-room cottage here. Talented local Laguna

landscape architect Sally Dunne bought the cottage from Tatania’s niece

in the early 1990s and transformed it.

When Dunne was dying last year, she bequeathed the house to her

doctor, Ed Smith.

Village Laguna volunteers serve as hosts and hostesses at the homes

and on the city trams that transport tour-goers. Private transportation

is discouraged due to congestion and difficulty in finding parking.

Comfortable shoes are recommended.

The Festival Grounds at 650 Laguna Canyon Road serve as the depot. The

first bus leaves at 10 a.m., the last bus at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for the

tour are $30 in advance and may be purchased at the Laguna Beach Chamber

of Commerce, 357 Glenneyre St., below the Laguna Beach Library; Hotel

Laguna, 425 South Coast Highway; Fawn Memories, 384 Forest Ave., and

other stores.

Tickets are limited. The price goes up to $35 on tour day, they will

be available at the grounds. Proceeds fund Village Laguna scholarships

for Laguna Beach High School seniors and charitable and political