Ravishing Jazz Age Estate in La Cañada Hits the Auction Block




On October 13, bidding will open for one of the grander properties in the upscale hamlet of La Cañada Flintridge. Known as the Overell Estate, the luxurious residence was constructed in 1929, at a then-astronomical cost of $80,000, for prosperous furniture dealer Walter Overell and his society-maven wife, Beulah.

A blend of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles, it was designed in a collaborative effort by architects L.G. Scherer and J. Cyril Bennett. Based in Hollywood, Scherer’s other notable designs included a Spanish-style mansion in Little Holmby for Marlene Dietrich, and the Hancock Park Tudor owned in the 80s by Francis Ford Coppola, while Bennett’s projects included Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium and Raymond Theater.


Sadly, the Overells’ time in their lavish hilltop home ended up being cut short: in 1947, the couple were on a sailing excursion off the coast of Newport Beach when their yacht was blown to bits in a dynamite explosion. Circumstantial evidence pointed to a murder plot perpetrated by the Overell’s teenage daughter, Beulah-Louise, and her 21-year-old boyfriend, of whom the couple strongly disapproved. After a seven-month-long nationally publicized trial, however, the young couple were acquitted. But with her inheritance drained by legal fees, Beulah-Louise was forced to liquidate her assets, and the family residence made its first trip to the auction block. The winning bid? A mere $56,000.

In the late 90s, the property was purchased for $1.8 million by Pasadena mutual funds manager Lauro Guerra, who embarked on a five-year revamp guided by designer John Everage that doubled the home’s footprint. Added in the expansion were a massive bedroom suite, a pub, a gym, a sauna, a deluxe home cinema, and a one-bedroom guest apartment with private entrance. Other updates include a restaurant-grade kitchen, Savant home automation, Lutron lighting, and solar power systems.

Even after all the updates, the 13,259-square-foot mansion still boasts a wealth of extravagant period details, including dramatic cast concrete exterior bas-reliefs, stained-magnesite and hardwood flooring, stepped-tray ceilings, hand-stenciled beams, fanciful murals, dazzling Deco and Spanish tile, and elaborate fireplace surrounds, stained glass, and wrought-ironwork.

Gracing the rarefied 1.18-acre grounds are an aqueduct, several tiled fountains, a koi pond, an arrow-shaped pool and spa, mature trees, a lanai, and multiple terraced patios.

The no-reserve auction is being conducted by Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions from October 13 through 18. Gina Olivares of Deasy Penner Podley is the listing agent.