Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Italian Beauty

I often drive past this intriguing gate, slowing a bit to try and sneak a peek at the mystery villa beyond the garden maze, obscured by trees. A little sleuthing revealed that the Florentine palazzo-inspired home was built in 1916 as a winter residence for Dr. John S. Tanner of Chicago. How could he ever go back to the hectic windy city after spending the holidays strolling around this dreamy spot? Known as the Tanner-Behr House, it was also dubbed Villa Arno by another owner. (I personally call it Villa Incognito, for obvious reasons.) By any name, it's sweet.

39 comments:

Shanna said...

You know about my fascination with Florence, so of course I'm fascinated.

Judy Williams said...

I love the artichoke shaped finials at the top of each column. It almost looks as if it should be a public park where children can wander through labyrinth hedges and parents can sit atop ornately adorned concrete benches to catch a few pages of their favorite novel while the children play.

altadenahiker said...

I have been meaning to ask you about this place! How can we get inside, do you think?

Mister Earl said...

I'm sure this was a setup, Karin, but you could accidentally tumble inside.

dbdubya said...

You could have gotten inside the yard several years ago, AH, had you attended the South Pasadena Education Foundation (SPEF) annual fundraiser dinner that was held here. SPEF is a non-profit that raises tons of money to support the schools. They have an annual party in the Spring called Parti Gras. The past two years it's been at the Arroyo Seco Golf course, but before that it was held in the gardens of different estate homes in town. Not only is Parti Gras a great party for a great cause, but when it was at homes, it was an opportunity to see some of South Pasadena's treasures.

The owners of this house (he's a well known fashion designer) opened it to SPEF in 2002. The gardens are spectaular. Guests only got to go through the foyer and not the entire house, but it is a true showcase.

Mister Earl said...

DBDub: I think I know someone who could have gotten past that foyer in no time.

Yakpate said...

I have mixed feelings about this masterpiece, which reminds me that there IS a class system in the U.S., albeit based on wealth more than lineage.

Do you suppose this gem might be offered on a short sale any time soon?

In any case... home is where you enjoy your books, art, dinners for friends and your garden... even if it fits on a third-floor balcony!

Trish said...

I used to ride my bike past here a few eons ago. I too wondered what went on behind the gate and several times just stood at the gate looking in. No one ever bothered me---I suppose even then there were video cameras.

Judy---for something like that to happen, you'd need to go East a bit to San Marino and Lacy Park. SoPas has open parks designed for more rough and tumble fun than staid parents sitting on concrete benches watching their children play.

Laurie said...

Trish... Eddy Park feels kind of like what Judy describes.

Lacy Park is wonderful -- but it reminds me of that M. Night Shamalan movie The Village. It's like this bizarre pastoral setting walled off from the world! I had no idea how big it was, so the first time my family went there we were amazed that such a place existed. I love to go there to read the names of all the unusual trees planted there.

Altadenahiker, I think you should definitely tumble in to this villa!

Yak, I don't think you'd get the whole class thing if you saw this place. It's nestled in a very accessible, homey neighborhood, like so many of South Pasadena's historical homes. No big gated community, no signs about guard dogs. In fact, down the same alley that this gate faces are some wonderful old simple wood frame houses. Similarly, all the big Green and Green homes on the north side of town are out in the open, scattered among smaller homes, near a lot of apartment buildings.

Petrea said...

Hiker's first question is always "How do I get in?" I love how she makes Yak's (very real) concern a little less of one, by making the place her own.

Yes, we have a class system. And yes, I admit I'd love to have a mansion of my own. Talk about mixed emotions.

Laurie said...

BTW, Yak... what you can do with a third floor balcony garden is nothing short of supernatural! And the cuttings you root for me are always the heartiest plants in my garden. (Speaking of which, hint hint...)

Wayne said...

As soon as I read the title I imagined a magnificent pair, but they weren't gate posts.

Karin is asking for tips on how to get into the grounds? ?

dbdubya said...

Mr. Earl - the Mayor at the time of the SPEF party didn't buy a ticket in advance. It always sells out. He showed up with his wife prepared to buy two tickets and was told it was sold out. He said, "but i'm the mayor!" The woman said, "doesn't matter, you don't have a ticket." The mayor and his wife left.

I used to go to Lacy park in the late 50's when there were no fences, gates, and it was open to everyone. It was the nicest park I've ever seen. I'd ride my bike there and race around the outer paths. Since they installed the fences and gates and created a sense of exclusion, it's no longer the same. Parks should be open for everyone and the more people that use them the better.

Laurie said...

DB, Lacy is almost empty on the weekends when San Marino charges admission to non-residents. It's sad because the park itself is so beautiful -- seems wrong to be sitting unused on a sunny Saturday.

Mister Earl said...

Lacy Park was once a lake, no?

Petrea said...

I've never been to Lacy park. It hasn't been convenient for me to go during the week, and I'm not one to pay for the privilege in this particular case.

dbdubya, your story's an interesting addition to the class system discussion.

TheChieftess said...

I've never been to Lacy Park...sounds like a day trip waiting to happen!!!
Fortunately for me, I was also at that SPEF Parti Gras...Richard Tyler is the designer/homeowner...It was a lovely setting for the event, and I certainly did my share of imaginating myself curled up in a spot by a fireplace sipping a glass of wine deep in conversation or reading a book...ah, the good life!!!
And the homeowners couldn't have been nicer or more generous...

Mister Earl said...

Speaking of money, the "new" old bank going in at Mission and Fair Oaks will be a branch of ComericA, based in Dallas. ComericA Park is the home of the Detroit Tigers.

Chieftess, when you're drinking the wine in splendorous surroundings, hold the glass by the stem, not the bowl. Raises the temperture.

TheChieftess said...

Alas Mr. Earl...even in this luxurious setting, the glasses were plastic, sans stem

Laurie said...

Plastic cups at Parti Gras? That makes me love Richard Tyler even more (and I already adore his clothes...)

TheChieftess said...

If I remember correctly LA, they have sold samples of his clothing each year at SPEF...better buy a ticket...you won't regret it...it's a great party and a great cause!!! (Have you ever heard the Greatful Dads play their rock n roll??? they're great and generally the entertainment!!!)

pasadenaadjacent.com said...

I'm completely confused as how the discussion of Lacy Park came into this but.... Lacy Park, fence or not, is the most beautiful park in the San Gabriel valley. Like or hate it's politics, I dare you to come up with a park that compares. Yes, it was as swamp. The landfill from Cal Tech was brought over to fill it in (thats a true story AH). If there is enough rain the center will actually take on water.

This house pictured; Back in the 70/80's you never saw a soul except for the gardening crew. It was immaculately kept then as is now.I spent my summers at the house directly across the street on Grand. Back then it was owned by race track people who would leave for Del Mar over the summer. Friend Cathi did the house sitting. We hung out by the pool all day. That's where I read "The World According to Garp" ....just rambling

dbdubya said...

Agreed that Lacy Park is the most beautiful in the SGV. But it was even more so before the fence and gates went up and it was filled with families who didn't have to show their ID to get in without paying an admission charge.

Mister Earl said...

I liked RIchard Tyler better when he was with Arrowsmith.

dbdubya said...

Uh, that would be a different Richard Tyler, Mr. Earl.

Mister Earl said...

You're forgetting, DBDub, Mister Earl knows everything.

dbdubya said...

Fooled me.

Petrea said...

Yeah, the Richard Tyler known as Steven.

dbdubya said...

Mr. Earl - I believe that Petrea has just proven that you don't know everything. Richard Tyler designs women's clotes. Steven Tyler sings loudly and has a daughter named Liv.

Laurie said...

I agree about Lacy being absolutely beautiful. Surreal, even. I have so many photos from there it's goofy.

DB, there are lots of families there during the week, which makes the weekend ghost town feel even more bizarre.

Cracking up about the Richard/Steven mix up. You go, Petrea. I thought you only knew Zeppelin? :-)

dbdubya said...

I know, Laurie, but doesn't it make a sad statement when more people use a park during the week when it's free than on the weekend when non-residents have to pay?

I'm glad South Pasadena doesn't operate that way.

Mister Earl said...

DBDub: You're forgetting that Mister Earl has a wicked sense of humor and lays traps for the unwary.

dbdubya said...

Nice recovery, Mr. E, but it won't work.

Mister Earl said...

Come on! You know me better than that. It's a standard setup. I knew this would happen! LOL!

dbdubya said...

RIIIGGHHHT!

Mister Earl said...

LOL!!

Petrea said...

Nah, Laurie, I know the hard rock bands of my (very long) day. Zeppelin just happens to be the one with which my name was once tied, as in "P is a Zeppelin freak."

Trish said...

folks, it was entirely MY fault, getting Lacy Park into this fray. Eddy Park now, maybe, but "back in the day, it was more homey and SoPas'y than Lacy ever was. Lacy reminded me of my godparents yard, huge and stately, don't touch anything. All the SoPas parks are hands on, play all out and have fun. Lacy was, when I was a kid, a place to hang out all afternoon and play on the fire engine, or hide in the bushes and trees while my parents napped, read, talked and sipped wine. Sure, sometimes there were a lot of folks, but, like Central Park, you expect that on a nice day. I spent many a summer day in Lacy at Y camp but spent more evenings at Garfield or Arroyo, or OG. k, making me feel old now.

PAdjacent...Garp? wow...bet they didn't let you take THAT out of the SoPas library!;-)

wv: seriously is "parco"

Laurie said...

This has been such fun today, guys. Thanks!

Until next post...