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Five-Cottage Storybook Compound in Los Feliz Returns to Market After 45 Years

Thursday, August 20, 2020   /   by The Villages Home Search

Five-Cottage Storybook Compound in Los Feliz Returns to Market After 45 Years

In Long Time No Sale, Curbed unearths homes hitting the market for the first time in a long time — or maybe ever — in hopes of finding mint-condition time capsules.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Years built: Early 1930s to mid-1940s
Last sold: 1975
Specs: 5 structures, 8 beds, 8 baths, 6,493 square feet, 2.54 acres
Notable changes: Updated plumbing and electrical systems
Price: $12,000,000


Materializing this month on the market like the L.A. version of Brigadoon is a rather extraordinary property known as the John A. A. Van Pelt Estate. A professor, conductor, and arranger of choral music, Van Pelt was also an early investor in L.A. real estate. In the 1920s, Van Pelt acquired a sizable swath of land in Los Feliz’s Franklin Hills section and subdivided it into 71 parcels. Claiming the largest lot for himself, he set about (between the 1930s and ’40s) creating a private, picturesque little village with five English storybook-style cottages.

Ranging in size from one to three bedrooms, the cottages were painstakingly handcrafted with mostly salvaged materials, including clinker bricks from the city’s demolished cable-car system and lumber from old ships. Nautical elements abound — one home even incorporates the anchor, banister ropes, and oars from Jack London’s boat, The Snark, along with porthole windows. Other notable architectural details include peg-and-groove hardwood floors, vaulted-beam ceilings, multiple brick fireplaces, diamond-pane windows, stained glass, and built-in bookcases, benches, and bars.

Exterior of a two-story house with red window frames and porthole windows.
The property’s largest structure, Whimsy Hall, contains many nautical elements, such as porthole windows, as well as a wine cellar, meat locker, and mechanic’s pit.

The lush, parklike grounds are filled with an abundance of banana and citrus trees, eight fountains, and meandering stone pathways studded with colorful geodes. The 2.5-acre estate’s hilltop position helps keep everything (including a pool and pool house) hidden from view.

The quirky compound remained in the hands of the Van Pelt family until 1975. Its second owner, a “fiercely private” antiques collector, went to considerable lengths to preserve the property, employing a full-time live-in property manager and gardener. Maintenance upgrades over the years have included updated plumbing and electrical systems and new roofs.

With the second owner having recently passed away, the estate is now available for the first time in half a century.

A room with brick fireplace reaching the ceilings and wood-paneled ceilings.
The oars from Jack London’s boat, The Snark, were repurposed as balcony beams, while its anchor was reincarnated as a chandelier.
A bedroom with brick fireplace and wood platform bed.
Whimsy Hall’s master bedroom.
Bathroom featuring orange and blue tiles and a small window.
A bathroom in Whimsy Hall.
The kitchen with a stainless steel range and brick walls.
Vintage and modern elements coexist in the kitchen.
A room with vaulted wood-beam ceilings and curved brick fireplace.
Star Sailor Manor features a beehive fireplace, stained glass, built-in bookcases, and a private dining patio.
A large pool with a house at the end.
The pool-house exterior is embellished with Egyptian art (artist unknown).
Large room with wood floors, exposed beams, and a stone fireplace.
Inside the pool house, a.k.a. Sea Horse Lodge, you’ll find beautiful woodwork, a built-in bar, and a massive stone fireplace.
A small fountain near built-in stone bench.
Numerous fountains are scattered throughout the parklike grounds.
Curving road surrounded by trees, plants, and a cylindrical brick structure.
The estate is hidden away at the top of a winding road.
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Fidelity Home Group
352-480-5800
888-259-2257
NMLS ID 1834853
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