Wallace Neff’s Mrs. James Skinner House Is a Grand Estate


The Mrs. James Skinner House, one of the L.A. area’s most distinguished and well-preserved estates, is back on the market for $21.5 million—the same price it was listed for last year.

The Italian Revival mansion in San Marino, CA, was built in 1929 for the widow of James Skinner, one of the founders of Sears, Roebuck.

Mrs. Skinner contracted architect Wallace Neff to design her Southern California home.

Neff, who helped develop Southern California’s distinctive architectural style, designed homes that have been enjoyed by a wide range of celebrities and heavy hitters over the decades. In fact, J.B. Van Nuys, whose family played a major role in the development of the San Fernando Valley, also lived in the Mrs. James Skinner House.

The antithesis of the modern white boxes that now populate Southern California, the Mrs. James Skinner House is typical of Neff’s early projects.

Details like the hand-painted ceilings, marble floors, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, wrought-iron balconies and banisters, and carved stone features speak to a certain level of bespoke elegance.

Living room

(Realtor.com)

The scale of this estate is indeed grand. There are 10 bedrooms and 11 baths in 11,318 square feet of living space in total. Its 1.8-acre lot features green lawns, gardens with topiary trees, and box hedges. Everything is protected by wrought-iron gates and sturdy walls.

Estate grounds

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Security wall and gates

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Formal gardens with box hedges

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The main house features six stately bedrooms, nine elegant baths, as well as an entry with a classic checkerboard-patterned marble floor and curved staircase.

Stately entryway

(Realtor.com)

The spacious wood-paneled study is warmed by a wood-burning fireplace.

Wood-paneled study

(Realtor.com)

As was standard in the stately mansions of the day, there are numerous fireplaces, including in the dining room, living room, primary suite, and covered patio.

Dining room

(Realtor.com)

Living room

(Realtor.com)

Primary suite

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Covered patio

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The property includes a two-bedroom guesthouse with a full kitchen, and a six-car garage comes with staff living quarters.

Guesthouse

(Realtor.com)

Out back, you’ll find a lighted tennis court and a 50-foot-long pool, reminiscent of amenities you’d find at a resort.

Tennis court

(Realtor.com)

Pool

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The most recent owner of the estate is Goodwin Gaw, a Hong Kong–based property investor who also owns the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Gaw paid $6 million in 2004 for the Neff-designed property, which he spruced up to be used as a Pasadena Showcase House in 2005.

He remodeled the kitchen, added a home theater, and improved all the mechanical systems—all while keeping the estate’s original architecture intact.

Updated kitchen

(Realtor.com)

Home theater

(Realtor.com)



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