Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 11, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 13



 Mountain Views News Saturday August 11, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them Story by Chris Bertrand. Photos by Susanne Hayek and the Konigsberg Family


Gated and tucked away near Sierra Madre’s Bailey Canyon Park, Eph 
Konigsberg’s extraordinary horticultural treasure trove and 1920’s custom 
home, with guest house, has just been listed for sale. The .66 acre homesite 
was lovingly planted by Konigsberg since the 1970’s, when he purchased the 

Over 100 rare fruit trees and other plantings provide an amazing framework 
for the lush garden and mountain views. Konigsberg collected unusual fruit trees from around the 
world, and left a living legacy in this horticultural treasure of delicacies.

Well known and loved as a modern Renaissance man of sorts here in town, Konigsberg was a mechanical 
engineer, a scholar on a wide range of topics, and an avid horticulturist.

According to Toni Moran, co-listing agent, “Eph was born in China and grew up in the Philippines. 
He loved the fruits he grew up with, and had a desire to grow and enjoy the fruits of his childhood. 
Many were obtained through an exotic fruit growers association,” Moran continued. “The family 
called it their little piece of paradise due when they closed the gates.”

Konigsberg and another well-known Sierra Madre horticultural luminary, Lew Watanabe, spent 
many times together on projects at home and in the community.

A wonderful caretaker, Everardo, has lived onsite in the attached six hundred square foot guest 
house for three decades. He lovingly maintains the orchards and grounds, the perennials and 
roses, as if they were his very own.

According to Carol Canterbury, also co-listing agent, the 103 mature, fruit trees include exotic 
fruits like lychee, jujube, a date-like fruit from China that is almost ready ripe right now, kiwi and 
Pomello, as well as “mainstream” SoCal fruits like grapefruit and avocado. 

According to former Sierra Madre mayor Bart Doyle, longtime friend and attorney for Eph, the 
area was designated as experimental grounds for avocado growing research, so there are actually 
century old avocadoes that are still bearing fruit today.

“Eph was involved the California Rare Fruit Growers Association. It is a group of primarily hobby 
growers, engineers, and some retired professors. That’s the source of these rare fruits. Grafts and 
starts are disseminated and distributed amongst their membership,” said Doyle.

Konigsberg used his scientific training in horticultural pursuits, according to Doyle. “He 
did experimental cross pollination and grafting of fruit trees. It was long and arduous, but he 
experimented and was patient. He spent years improving the decomposed granite soil there, 
adding organic matter again and again. What’s here today represents several decades of ongoing 
stewardship,” reflected Doyle.

Entire walls of passion fruit and kiwi send their tendrils up the trellised walls. Many varieties of grapes 
add to the mix, so there is fresh produce coming from the orchard every month of the year.” Just 
as Eph meticulously planned it,” according to Doyle. “True to his scientific nature, he mapped and 
chronicled every tree on a scale map, one of which is at the home,” said Doyle, and put the trees on a 
low maintenance drip system.

As soon as Konigsberg moved to Sierra Madre in 1959, he became active in a wide variety of civic 
projects and organizations, including serving many terms on the Library board and starting the tree 
commission. Eph was a driving force in a downtown project 
decades back, that once completed, was virtually forgotten. 

This years-long project, the process of rerouting the utility poles 
underground on Baldwin Avenue, forever changed the skyline of 
Sierra Madre. The arduous project, which involved coordination 
with many utilities, removed a maze of poles and wires, and 
reopening Sierra Madre’s downtown views to the beautiful San 
Gabriel Mountains. 

In honor of his devotion to and accomplishments in the 
community, Konigsberg was named Sierra Madre’s Older 
American of the Year in 2008. 

In his professional life as a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, 
Konigsberg held several patents. He developed a device for the 
diagnosis of gastro esophageal reflux, as well as a pill that military 
troops could swallow, which would transmit medical status and 
data to medical personnel.

The expansive, single level home was originally built as a smaller 
farm house in 1921 according to records. According to Doyle, the home was probably on land used as 
an agricultural ‘testing grounds’ for avocado growing, post World War 1.

 “Eph was a one man agricultural research station,” said Doyle. “He developed his own ideas on how to 
prune and experimented with it, based on his theory of the importance of sunlight hitting the ground 
under the fruit trees. The trees are pruned for easy picking, generally at a maximum seven to eight feet 
mature height.

The Konigsberg home was expanded over the years to seamlessly incorporate the farmhouse, and the 
current single level floorplan works well for today’s living, with walls of windows looking out to the 
verdant garden views and overlooking the pool. “You can’t tell where the old house ends and the newer 
one beings,” reflected Doyle. As his tree collection grew, Eph purchased slivers of adjacent land to 
expand his orchard.

One of Eph’s favorite places was the breakfast nook, which is overlooks the gardens, orchards and pool,” 
comments Canterbury. “The whole place has a magic to it. Many potential buyers seem to engage with 
it immediately. You can see their minds working overtime, figuring out how their lives might play out 
here. To move a wall here. To place furniture there. There is definitely something special about the 

The family room is the great room around which so much entertaining took place in the home during 
Konigsberg’s tenure. Moran commented she attended many civic events at the home due to Eph’s 
generous civic mindedness. Many other tenured Sierra Madreans spent many pleasant hours amid the 
lush greenery at the Konigsberg home. “There are flowers everywhere. It’s really IS a little paradise,” 
reflected Moran.

Konigsberg’s two adopted daughters, who now manage the property, get a bit teary at the thought of 
the property moving out of their family but, “It’s time to let it go,” they said. “It’s heartbreaking not to 
have our little piece of paradise any more, but it’s time to pass it on to another family to make their own 

“Eph’s estate has great potential to become an even greater showplace,” according to Carol Canterbury, 
also co-listing agent. This is the chance to take on the stewardship of one Sierra Madre’s treasures and 
enhance it for the next generation. “It’s a great place for entertaining!” said Moran.

359 Grove Street is offered at $1,298,000 by Carol Canterbury and Toni Moran of Prudential California 
Realty in Sierra Madre. For more information, or to arrange a showing, call Canterbury at 626-252-6322, 
or Toni Moran at 626-355-7352. Some data for this article was obtained from www.SierraMadreNews.

A “203” FOR TLC

You find a neat "fixer-upper," then learn that banks won't lend until the repairs are done, but the repairs 
can't be completed until the house is purchased! This Catch-22 scenario can be solved by HUD's FHA-
backed 203(k) "rehab loan," growing in popularity because so many foreclosure purchases are in dire 
need of repairs.

This loan covers the cost of the home, plus money for repairs up to a maximum of $35,000! To get the 
ball rolling, you'll need funds for the 3.5% required downpayment, and then to find a suitable property. 
Your real estate representative will prepare your offer, stating that you'll be seeking 203(k) financing.

Next you'll apply to an FHA-approved lender, including a sheet listing each repair and its cost. Finally, 
an appraisal is performed to determine the value of the home once the proposed repairs are complete.

Upon approval, you'll have financed the home purchase plus all your proposed repairs (there's even a 
10%-20% "contingency reserve" included to cover any unforeseen improvements). At closing, the seller 
receives the purchase price, and the remaining funds go into escrow, to be disbursed to the contractor 
as work is completed (within six months).

Real estate agents support this loan program because it expands homeownership and revitalizes neighborhoods, 
but all you need to know is that it will get you into a very affordable home right now.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: