Park Estates home sparkles after $1 million in upgrades

Despite some overly wealthy residents’ propensity to tear houses down to make room for a frequently gaudier, uglier McMansion, interesting and historical architecture abounds in pockets around this city, and probably the highest concentration of works by notable architects and builders can be found in Park Estates.

The neighborhood was developed as a high-dollar area southwest of the starter, affordable tracts of Los Altos by developer Lloyd Whaley. And by high-dollar, you were looking at homes priced between $20,000 and $30,000 at a time when the Los Altos homes were going for about a third of that.

Whaley commissioned some big-name architects to design homes in Park Estates, including Mid-Century-Modern masters Paul Tay, Richard Neutra and Edward Killingsworth—the dean of Long Beach architects who was also joined by such local talent as Kenneth Wing, Dick Poper and William Lockett. In fact, of the three Neutra-designed homes in Long Beach, all are in Park Estates.

And, while the area is fairly famous for its mid-modern architecture—it’s where people move after they’ve grown weary of or outgrown their Cliff May homes in East Long Beach—there’s also a nice mix of more traditional forms in the area, not the least of which is the former home of Whaley himself, designed in part by renowned black architect Paul Revere Williams that sits on a 2.5-acre lot, the largest in the city. Whaley set the plot aside for himself on Bryant Drive, perhaps the toniest street in Park Estates and one that was named for Susanna Bixby Bryant, who, as owner of Rancho Los Cerritos, had owned much of the 205 acres that made up Park Estates.

The former estate of developer Lloyd Whaley at 5531 Bryant Drive East in Park Estates. Redfin photo.

A brisk walk from the Whaley estate is a home now on the market at 1171 Bryant Road, which, says listing agent Kelsea Mazzocco of First Team, is more reminiscent of the large traditional homes in the Virginia Country Club neighborhood of Long Beach. “It just feels more like that part of town,” she said. “It has a formal dining room and large, inviting grounds.”

The listing price is $2.475 million, down from its original ask of $2.595.

The home was built for Long Beach State College professor Henry Schmann and his wife. When it was built, it was faced entirely with Ojai fieldstone, which remains intact on the bottom floor. A second level was added later, making the home a comfortable five-bedroom, four-bath residence with 4,134 square-feet of living space.

The formal dining room at the home on 1171 Bryant Road gives the home a more traditional feel than the mid-century modern homes in the area. Listing photo.

Mazzocco, who sold the home to its current owners seven years ago for just under $1.7 million, said that the couple sunk about a million dollars worth of improvements into the home. “A lot of it is things you can’t immediately see,” said Mazzocco. “All new electric, Lutron windows, a new roof, new trim, new lighting.” And some that are pretty noticeable, like a pool, two movie rooms and surround sound in every room.

The property looks great on paper, but it’s a lot more stunning in real life. You can check it out at an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.