Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 20, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 17



 Mountain Views News Saturday, August 20, 2011 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people whoe create them. Story by Chris Bertrand and Photos by Erik Grammer


After nearly a decade 
of dedicated restoration, 
rehab and construction 
by the Asbury family, The 
Pinney House has been 
preened and polished for a 
new chapter in its storied, 
120+ year existence. 

The Podley Properties 
brochure waxes sentimental 
about the home’s future 
use, “Bed and Breakfast? Multi-family residences? 
Private trophy home? Her future can be your dream 
to fulfill.”

At the age of 70, Dr. Elbert Pinney, a retired civil 
war surgeon, brought his family to newly established 
Sierra Madre in a covered wagon. His 35 acres offered 
views of the San Gabriel Mountains as well as 
Los Angeles, some fifteen miles in the distance.

Designed by prominent architects, Samuel and 
Joseph Cather Newsom, Pinney’s new “Sierra Vista 
Hotel” sported Queen Anne style accoutrements 
and 20-30 rooms for those journeying to enjoy a 
mountain vacation. 

In charmingly antiquated vernacular, the local 
Valley Vista newspaper of July 31, 1889 said the hotel 
was “a quiet and comfortable home for sojourners 
and tourists. The Building and Furnishing Entirely 
New. Reached by carriages from station on the 
Santa Fe railroad one mile distant. There is from this 
House a fine view of the beautiful San Gabriel Valley, 
extending from on end of the valley to the other and 
from the mountains to the sea, presenting a picture 
grand, inspiring and never tiring, revealing to the 
observer new beauties each day.”

Dr. Pinney engaged the inspiration and plantings of Luther Burbank, 
noted botanist horticulturist and developer of dozens of hybridized 
plants, around the property. It’s said that one of Burbank’s 
thorn-less cacti, intended as a source of new feed for cattle, still 
thrives on Highland and another perhaps on Carter. 

After its use as a hotel, the Pinney House became sanatorium where 
it’s said Jimmy Durante “dried out”, a boarding house that hosted ballroom 
dancing lessons in the atrium, and as an apartment building. 
The story is told that a previous owner bought the Pinney apartment 
building for his wife as a birthday present. 

Today, the 10,002 square foot Pinney House has been beautifully 
finished with Queen Anne architecture and vintage (though not original) 
lighting, six bedroom suites including four 1 BR and two 2 BR 
suites, formal rooms with three fireplaces, a library, sun room, English 
garden, a main level studio plus 2500 square foot complete living 
quarters on the third floor boasting a great room, two bedrooms, two 
baths, kitchen and a turret dining area with some of the best views in 
Sierra Madre.

Some of the suites have now been named for famous guests like 
Luther Burbank, and stars of movies shot at the Pinney House over 
the decades, including Barbara Stanwyck and Bob Hope.

In addition to being a magnificent private home perfect for multi-
generation living, the current floorplan and configuration would 
easily accommodate bed and breakfast, with gift shop area, private 
owners’ quarters on the top floor, and even an office with an outside 

Judy Webb Martin, co-listing agent, commented that the city welcomes 
the idea of future use as a bed and breakfast, and it is listed 
in the city’s general plan, though a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) 
would be required. 

Realtors and locals gathered to view the newly listed, historic home 
on Thursday evening, August 18, many reminiscing about how their 
own paths crossed with The Pinney House. Suzanne Wheeler told 
of the many times she and Toni Moran rented out the apartments 
to mostly young Sierra Madreans returning from college, when the 
structure was configured as one of the larger apartment buildings in 
the city. Everyone fawned over the three surprisingly beautiful chickens 
slowly searching for tasty morsels amid the front lawn.

Neighbors wandered through the three floors searching (in vain) 
for the former apartment occupied by a brother or friend. Another 
wandered through the beautiful arbors and private yard where the 
building’s parking lot once sported asphalt instead of the verdant and 
private space designed and lovingly installed as a venue for an Asbury 
family wedding a few years back.

I personally vividly remember my first visit to the Pinney House for 
a May, 2007 article. The building was under heavy demolition in several 
areas. While a debris chute shot detritus from a second floor window, 
owner Greg Asbury, unaffected by the hubbub, calmly guided 
me through the construction zone on a tour of their restoration project. 
At the time, only a couple of rooms, including the magnificent 
foyer, were restored to their 1888 glory, and the home’s exterior was 
a plain white instead of the beautiful, multi-colored palette of today. 

A Podley agent bubbled over about the beautiful, functional yet period 
sensitive kitchen designed by local architect, Mark Barrett and 
his interior designer/Podley agent wife, Andrea Barrett. The main 
kitchen was one of the final projects to be completed and becomes 
the third kitchen in the building.

A marvelous vintage gas stove and newly finished but history-laden 
wood floors provide the historic 

components around which a very functional and modern kitchen 
with double drawer dishwashers, built-in refrigerator-freezer and 
stone counters provide plenty of room for either a bed and breakfast 
operation or private home. 

To complete the historic charm and allure of the Pinney restoration, 
the Asburys have uncovered and framed various historical photos 
of the Pinney family, and old letter found inside the wall, Hotel and 
movie poster advertisements, an early photo of the house surrounded 
by vineyards, and another as a backdrop for tennis players from a 
century ago (also displayed at The Only Place in Town restaurant). 

Family ties now call the Asburys to Oregon, and their own new 
chapter in life. We will all miss them, wish them well, and thank them 
for their decade of exceptional stewardship, vision and hard work to 
preserve the Pinney House. 

225 North Lima in Sierra Madre is now offered for sale at $2,900,000. 
For more information on the purchase of the Pinney House, call Judy 
Webb Martin or Katie Orth at Podley Properties in Sierra Madre at 
626-507-3028, or visit For more on the 
home’s history and vintage photos, visit 
Some information for this article was obtained from both websites.

Know of an interesting home, garden, or person who helps create 
them? Send the contact information to C.Bertrand@MtnViewsNews.
com today!


 If you need to sell your home, but it has lost value since you first bought it, you’re facing a 
pricing puzzle. But before deciding on a fair price that may be below what you really want, 
consider the costs of not selling by asking more.

 If your home sits on the market, waiting for a higher offer, you’ve got to figure in the costs 
of continuing your monthly mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance and insurance. 

 Compare the asking prices of similar homes to the actual sales prices, often determined 
more by the lenders than the buyers. If you’re asking more than your home’s current value, 
the required appraisal will show that, and the lender won’t approve the buyer’s loan, leaving 
you back at Square One.

 Walk in the buyer’s shoes and do your homework. Go ahead and tour similar homes 
listed in your area. Compare their price per square foot and see how yours stacks up 
against the competition in terms of value. This should help you arrive at an aggressive 
asking price that will hopefully be your sale price.

 Local inventory determines your price, too. Divide 1 by the number of months of 
inventory (ask your agent for this number to determine the local “absorption rate”). 8 
months of inventory yields a 12.5% likelihood of selling, so speak with your agent and price 


Just Arrived! New Shipment of Flax Sundresses

20% Off All Sale Items!

The Arcadia Association of REALTORS® 
is offering the prestigious CIPS (Certified 
International Property Specialist) National 
Association of REALTORS® designation course 
at an incredible cost of just $699 (for those who 
sign up before Friday, September 16th) for the 
entire five day course. Beginning on October 
17th through October 21st, the course events also 
feature a complementary networking reception 
for all CIPS Designees on Thursday evening 
from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with special guest, 
Steve Goddard, Past President of the California 
Association of REALTORS. 

The course will be held at the Embassy Suites 
Hotel, 211 E. Huntington Drive in Arcadia 
from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Subjects are: Global 
Real Estate: Local Market; Global Real Estate: 
Transaction Tools; Europe & International Real 
Estate; Asia/Pacific & International Real Estate 
and The Americas & International Real Estate. 
The course features two very qualified Instructors: 
May Wan, CIPS and Fanny Y. Chu, CIPS, SRES, 
TRC, SFR. The course also offers elective credits 
for the ABR, CRS and RSPS Designations. 

To qualify for the Early Bird Special Rate of 
$699, you must register before Friday, September 
16th. Any registrations after the deadline will be 
$750 for the full five days of courses. Register 
today! Bringing the world to your local markets!

For further details visit
CIPS.html or call the Arcadia Association office 
at (626) 446-2115. 

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