In Hollywood, many houses are named after the celebrity who once lived there; but not the last celebrity who lived in the house, but perhaps the most infamous, or famous. And that’s the case with this home in Laguna Beach: it’s the Bette Davis House, even though David stopped living in this oceanfront French Normandy estate in 1950.
Seventy-one years after that and it’s still the Bette Davis House, though that might be due to the large wrought iron ‘D’ that was attached to the chimney that faces the beach when Davis purchased the home, or the stained-glass window in the media room that also bears the ‘D’.
But now the Bette Davis House is for sale, for a hair under $20 million and if I win the lottery and buy it, the ‘D’ will stand for ‘Damn! I Bought Bette Davis’ House.’
The house was built in 1929 as a summer home for Charles H. Prisk, a wealthy newspaper publisher and owner of the influential Pasadena Star-News and Long Beach Press-Telegram. It was designed by Laguna Beach artist and architect Aubrey St. Clair and, thankfully, past owners of the three-story, six-bedroom, 5 full and three half bathroom, 5,400 square foot home have preserved many of the original features from when Davis lived here.
The beach house, and yes, even Davis called it her beach house, sits on a bluff overlooking Woods Cove, with private-access steps leading to the beach. The main house, anchored by a baronial great room, leads guests to the Lookout Room and the adjoining family and dining rooms, all with stunning sea views.
A large, updated kitchen—there’s a second kitchen in the detached two-bedroom guest house—has been updated with the appliances, space and finishes of today. The adjacent breakfast room and butler’s pantry’s vaulted ceiling are just a hint of the house’s European style.
On the third level are two en suite bedrooms, and the master bedroom suite, with a princess balcony that looks down into the living room, and a terrace overlooking the sea. Down on the lower level is the media room is a bar area with a stained-glass ceiling; on this same level is a wine cellar—bonus!—fitness room, and two other en suite bedrooms.
There are several balconies and terraces and patios, and an outdoor kitchen to enjoy dinner and a view. In the detached guest house is a one-bedroom apartment with full kitchen, and another, separate, bedroom and bath.
The home has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which limits modifications to the exterior, but it does mean tax breaks for owners to help offset restoration and maintenance costs.
It ain’t cheap to own a $20 million six-bedroom, eight-bathroom cliffside beach house.
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