A hundred steps to the sands of Coronado’s main beach, the “Baby Del” proudly stands as one of San Diego’s most magnificent Queen Anne Victorian landmarks. Its architecture is reminiscent of the Hotel del Coronado a few blocks away.
Carri Fernandez in our Chula Vista Eastlake Village office is listing agent for the property at 1144 Isabella Avenue, priced at $18,900,000, with 5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in the 5,196-square-foot main house, plus 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in 3 guesthouses, all on a gated half-acre lot.
Built in 1887, the Livingston House was a newsworthy, monumental move on land and barge in 1983 to its majestic location in Coronado – just steps to the romantic white-sands beach – from the Sherman Heights neighborhood of San Diego, and has been lovingly restored and enjoyed by its two owners since.
A bond to an earlier time
Turrets, stained glass, wrought-iron work, and gold leaf create a bond to an earlier, more gracious time. The home was designated as Historical Landmark No. 58 in San Diego and then designated again as a historical home in Coronado. This home also has qualified and received a Mills Act designation, which makes it eligible for certain property-tax reductions.
In the midst of the 1880s, during San Diego’s first real estate boom, Mrs. Harriett Livingston built this work of art perched on 24th and J Streets in San Diego’s Sherman Heights neighborhood. It often is referred to as the sister house of the nearby Villa Montezuma mansion, which is now a museum. Legend has it that many of the home’s construction workers put their skills to use the very next year on building the second-largest wooden structure in the United States, the Hotel del Coronado.
Relocated by a leading architect
The late San Diego-based architect Christopher Mortenson, who was a leader in the revitalization of the historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, bought the house in 1979. He moved it to Coronado by truck and a barge in 1983, and lived in it with his family until 1995. The home was acquired by its current owner in 1995 and has not been on the market for 26 years, so can considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The rare half-acre lot is one of the eight-largest residential properties in Coronado and comprises two parcels, originally three but two were joined for placement of the home.
The home’s exotic Victorian dragon tree was also relocated by crane to its new surroundings in 1984 and was formerly located in the 700 block of C Avenue. The tree was in danger of being felled to make room for new development. This particular tree may well have come to Coronado at the same time as the one in front of the Hotel Del and is similar to the famous one at The Del.
Near the Hotel Del
Located a half-mile from the Hotel del Coronado, this special town has been known as “Hollywood’s Playground” since the 1920s, as well as the host to presidents Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Wilson. Hollywood stars and starlets discovered that The Del was the “in” place to stay, and many celebrities made their way south to party during the 1920s and 1930s, specifically during the era of Prohibition. Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Mae West, Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Ginger Rogers were a few of the many great actors who stayed at the hotel.
Classic and modern amenities
A creative blend of classic and modern amenities, the house has 12+-foot-tall ceilings, arched doorways in the main hallway, time period leaded-glass front door and windows in the primary bathroom, and fireplaces in the living room, parlor, and primary retreat. The two chimneys were custom-built, with each brick put into place and tediously tuck-pointed by the late Bud Bernhard, a well-known Coronado brick mason of long standing who loved building chimneys.
The “Crown Room,” named after the Hotel Del’s Crown Room, was built by the Mortensen family to look like the famed dining venue. It has 19 doors that open to a wraparound deck to go to and from the gardens. A solid-steel-and-wood spiral staircase with curved wood railing in the middle of the room, connects the four levels of the house – basement, main floor, bedrooms, and widow’s walk to the top-floor turret – as well as provides a solid reinforcement to the home. The staircase is a work of art, complementing the home’s beach theme as it resembles a seashell.
Designed for entertaining
The home’s grounds have been designed for entertaining large and small gatherings, with a BBQ area just outside the “Crown Room,” rope lights, electrical outlets, seating areas, pathway lighting, and overhead illumination placed throughout the gardens.
The guesthouse adjacent to the garage, is called the “Zen Room,” while the other two guesthouses, located in a real 1887 carriage house, are on two levels. The upper level, called the “Sky Room,” is a large studio with kitchen, the-lower level guesthouse consists of a large tiled room that opens nicely to a brick patio and backyard perfect for hosting events, visiting the beach, and welcoming pets.