Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, October 27, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 13



 Mountain Views News Saturday, October 27, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them 

Story by Chris Bertrand Photos courtesy of Pauli Morin, Tim Gregory, The Building Biographer and Sierra Madre Library archives


An historic home, part of Sierra Madre’s lively history recently came on the market for 
lease. The Spanish Colonial estate was built in 1935 for Robert Ernest Wright and his wife, 
May. The Mays’ foundations later became major benefactors to the University of Southern 
California and to Cal Tech. 

The Wrights apparently used the home to display their large collection of Mexican artifacts 
obtained on many trips south of the border, and also incorporated items like the massive 
wooden front door with huge hinges and key mechanism, and a large oven, said to be 
imported from Mexico, as well as cacti and other plants brought back from there.

As far as local lore, 
the home was later 
owned by the son of 
Glen Miller, famous 
for his “In the Mood” 
renditions and other big 
band era luminati.

According to the 
historical research done 
by Tim Gregory, The 
Building Biographer, 
the seventy seven year 
old home is known for 
its early adoption of 
the steel construction 
method, using “Palmer steel.” Mr. Wright studied metallurgy in graduate school at Cal Tech, suggesting he adopted 
some of his studies in their home.

The building is framed like a high rise, as seen in archive photos Gregory obtained from the Sierra Madre Library, 
using steel for the roof framing and floor joists, and steel sashes on the windows. In a bit of historical humor, perhaps 
a purposeful miscommunication between husband and wife, recorded in the Assessor’s notes, the “lady told me that 
the steel erected in this house cost $2200. Man tells me much of the material purchased…. Cost approximately 

Inside, “Parts of the walls were described as being 20-22 inches thick,” said Gregory, which makes for a great natural insulation from heat variations. 

“When you walk in, it feels like you have stepped back in time,” reflected Pauli Morin, listing agent. The Spanish motif of the home incorporates colorful patterned tile, said to be purchased from the short 
lived, and highly sought after Malibu Tile Company.

 The vaulted, exposed wood and beamed ceiling continues the Spanish theme, with fireplaces in the living and dining rooms. A major renovation of this historically significant home began in 1995, as a result 
of the 1991 Sierra Madre earthquake. During this time, some of the home’s acreage was subdivided into an additional three parcels. At this time, the 1950’s era kitchen was replaced with one more historically 
sensitive to the home’s architectural style. 

Now on a smaller lot than its original expansive acreage with frontage on West Grandview, this Alegria 
Avenue home is very private and not really visible from the street, due to the garage placement and 
brick walls. Truly an oasis of green, the home features native oaks, fruit trees, cacti species and cascading 
Bougainvillea and ivy. 

“It’s very secluded from the street, with a series of meditation areas in the garden. The courtyard is 
amazing for outdoor living and entertaining,” commented Pauli Morin, listing agent, “and includes an 
outdoor fireplace and oversized spa.”

Auto enthusiasts will likely go nuts over the four (originally five) car garage; as such a large garage is a 
real rarity in Sierra Madre. The interior of the garage still offers a peek into the steel construction style 
used throughout the Wright House.

“This is an amazing find for someone searching to lease a unique, historic home,” said Morin.

540 Alegria, Sierra Madre, offers 3565 square feet of living space, with four bedrooms and four baths, 
situated on a .39 acre private homesite. 

The home is offered for lease at $5300/ month by Pauli Morin of Coldwell Banker in Arcadia. For 
more information, contact the agent at 626-233-2047 or Tim Gregory, 
The Building Biographer, provided the historical data for this article. Contact him through www.


As we see some market recovery, the scales become a little more balanced between buyers and 
sellers. However, if you're a buyer moving out of the area, local conditions here aren't relevant. 
You need to investigate whether it's still a strong buyer’s market in the area where you are 

If long listing times and price reductions are prevalent, then you have the luxury of exercising 
some of the following options when you search and eventually make an offer. First of all, you 
needn't jump at the first suitable home you find, because inventory will be high and price reductions 
open to discussion.

When you finally decide to make an offer, play the time card to your advantage, asking for a 
speedy seller response, perhaps within 24 hours. Pressure to accept is one thing, but do allow a 
reasonable amount of time for inspections, repairs, etc. Speaking of which, don't be shy about 
stipulating major repairs in your offer, and the inclusion of a "home warranty" policy for the first 

Offer below asking price, but don't lowball and insult the seller. You can always reject their 
counteroffer in a strong buyer’s market, as long as you can accept the risk and move on to the 
next property. Have your representative assemble a good selection of suitable properties and 
take one step at a time!

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