Own the Treasure of Sierra Madre

The Victorian Pinney Hotel, nestled against the mountains in this Los Angeles suburb, is unlike anything else on the market.

Photo provided by Judy Rubin Looking more like something you'd find at Disneyland than an actual historic home nestled in the foothills in Sierra Madre, Calif., the Pinney House today looks much as it did when it was built around 1887.

Back in 1887 Dr. Elbert Pinney moved his family by covered wagon to the newly established settlement now called Sierra Madre, near Pasadena, Calif. The 70-year-old retired Civil War surgeon built the very Victorian Hotel Sierra Madre, a 24-room hotel at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, near the new railroad line that ran to Los Angeles.

Today that same iconic structure, known as the Pinney House, is a 10-bedroom, 10.5-bath income property, with an exterior that has been restored to its original glory. And it’s for sale at the asking price of $2.695 million.

You can’t help but do a double take when you see it, because it is completely unlike anything else on the Los Angeles market.

The three-story, 10,002-square-foot Queen Anne Victorian, designed by the famous Newsome Brothers, is known as the “Grande Dame of Sierra Madre.” It is within walking distance of the quaint shops of this mountainside Los Angeles suburb.

The hotel originally was filled, particularly in winter, with guests from the East, who came to California to “take the cure” of mild weather and sunshine. The high turret or “oriel tower,” as it was called, served as an identifiable landmark for the mule-and-horse teams that brought visitors uphill from the train station to the hotel.

Over the years, the house has become quite the movie star, serving as a popular location for films beginning with classics like Barbara Stanwyck’s The Great Man’s Lady and Bob Hope’s The Seven Little Foys. Hollywood has been using it constantly ever since. Last year alone, enough commercials were shot there to net the owners upward of $20,000.

Renters and filmmakers alike are impressed with the broad “boulevard” hallways and the grand staircase, plus the spectacular front porch area where guests used to gather on warm evenings.

The current owners built and updated four modern kitchens in the property, and tenants share some of them, along with common rooms like the Parlor, Conservatory, Formal Dining Room, Front Porch and English Garden, with historic plantings. The owners used the top floor for their consulting business, while leasing out eight bedroom suites and a loft.

Although not yet listed on the National Historic Register of Landmarks, the Pinney House does have Mills Act Status, which provides significant property tax benefits.

As it stands, the new owners could continue using the house for income property, but it would be easy enough to convert it into a family estate. There’s more than enough room for multiple generations and anyone who fits your definition of “family.”

The Pinney House is represented by Judy Rubin of Coldwell Banker.

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