Even by the serene standards of Los Cerritos, the home at 4255 Chestnut Ave. is extraordinarily peaceful. Bracketed by a brace of massive sycamores and fronted by a comparatively diminutive magnolia tree, the home is on a huge lot of a bit more than a half-acre, and its sprawling verdant backyard is as close to Elysian as I’ve seen in my years nosing around Long Beach properties.
A large statue of the Virgin Mary stands in one corner of the yard that’s dotted with dozens of flowering bushes, roses, a crape myrtle, a rosemary bush beneath an arbor, a small orchard of citrus trees, all shaded at least partially by a towering century-old pine.
Along a narrow outdoor walkway with bench seating is a long, maybe 30-foot stacked-stone wall with water gently trickling down its face. Overall, you can pick a place to relax or meditate nearly anywhere on the property and perhaps attempt to read a book before dozing off.
It wasn’t always this quiet in the 4,800-square-foot house. It was built in 1949 for Dr. Carlyle Ahrens and his wife. Its architect, Hollywood art director Henry Larrecq, designed it to be built around an electric organ. That sounds (and is) weird, but an article about the house in the Press-Telegram’s Southland section explained, after a fashion, that year:
“The tone cabinet was built into a hollow partition between the entry and sunroom and the organ was in the corner of the sunroom, some distance away from the tone cabinet. The sound is enhanced by reflections against the walls before it reaches the listener.”
You’re curious to hear it, but, alas, every trace of the organ and its connection to the walls of the house have long since disappeared.
But it’s fair to say that, aesthetically, the home has not suffered for its absence.
In the years since it was built, other owners have added bedrooms and other rooms to the house as well as upgrading the original parts.
The floors throughout most of the house are lustrous three-quarter-inch cherrywood. If the generous use of windows in the house don’t introduce enough of the outdoors to the home’s interior, there’s a lot more to pull some of the gathering rooms into the backyard, most notably an expansive “flex room,” meaning use your imagination, that runs for a long way along the back of the house with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows that fold back and recede to allow complete access to the yard. The previous owners used it as a game room, with both table tennis and a pool table. While the house already has an inviting sunroom, one would still be tempted to use the flex room as another space to bring in comfortable chairs and sofas to just sit and enjoy the view, or perhaps turn it into an entertainment space. It’s flex; do what you want.
Listed by the premier mother-daughter team of Carolyn Faber and Kristi Vento at $3.388 million, it enters the list of the top 10 most expensive homes listed in Long Beach, just behind the Alison White restoration home at 4131 Cedar Ave., as Los Cerritos tries to keep pace with the more expensive homes in and around Naples. The two neighborhoods have both been leaders in expensive home sales, and there’s much to recommend the quiet and stately Virginia Country Club neighborhoods over the more vibrant and active waterfront areas, with one of the key advantages being the much greater sized lots in Los Cerritos.
This home on Chestnut typifies the best of Los Cerritos, and while it owes much of its charm to its grounds and the house’s accessibility to those grounds, the house itself has plenty of outstanding features, from its kitchen with a center prep island and extra sink and a beautiful Lacanche range and Viking oven, to its two en-suite bathrooms and walk-in closets, to its glass-enclosed office and formal dining and living rooms.
Both Faber and Vento, who have sold other prestigious properties in the area, agree that more people are beginning to prefer the peace of Los Cerritos over the more active and vibrant Naples area for a variety of reasons, including the golf and gatherings at the nearby country club, but the main draw of the area, which is apparent even as you drive or walk through the neighborhoods, is the space and the silence.