A $4 million stunning Park Estates Mid-Modern with a brain to match its looks

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It’s a bit of a task for a property to crack the Top 10 Priciest Homes in Long Beach list if it’s located a long walk from the ocean.

But a home in Park Estates’ prestigious Estates section, a neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood of some 58 larger-than-average homes built on larger-than-average lots in the heart of Park Estates, is now the sixth most expensive home currently listed for sale in Long Beach at $3.995 million.

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In the late 1940s, even as Naples and the Peninsula were emerging as the high-dollar neighborhoods in Long Beach, Park Estates was designed to be among the most luxurious parts of the city’s brand-new east side.

Developer Lloyd Whaley, who oversaw most of the east side’s booming growth in the late 1940s and on into the 1960s, set aside the land, located in a somewhat wobbly triangle formed by Atherton Street, Bellflower Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, for his exclusive Park Estates where homes were sold for $20,000 to $30,000 and more, double or triple the price for the $10,000 average for his homes in Los Altos.

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To help him fine-tune the layout of the acreage, Whaley hired Leon Deming Tilton, a national authority on civic planning who was nearing in the end of a career that included co-creating a master plan for Westwood Village, serving as a chief planner for Santa Barbara County and planning director for San Francisco, to work out an overall community plan.

In addition to hiring Tilton, who died in 1949 at the age of 58, Whaley commissioned several established and emerging architects to design houses in Park estates. Besides Paul Revere Williams, who had a hand in designing Whaley’s own residence on a three-acre lot on Bryant Drive, architects whose works can be found in the Plaza include Edward Killngsworth, Richard  Neutra, Kenneth Wing, John Lautner, Paul Tay and George Montierth.

Rivaling some of those architects’ designs is the current listing by Realtor Lauren Coombs at 1440 La Perla Ave.

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home was built in 1956—almost by definition a Mid-Century home—and a fairly traditional one until another famed architect, Jonathan Glasgow of Long Beach’s Interstices, gave the house a thorough upgrade and transformation in 2016 (Glasgow died in July 2021).

Large concrete pavers lead you to the front of the house and into a private courtyard with Brazilian Ipe wood decking. Once through the front door, you’re in the foyer, separated from the livingroom by a sleek set of dozens of tall vertical Ipe wood slats creating an airy hallway.

Vertical wood beams create a foyer separating the living room from the entry.
Vertical wood beams create a foyer separating the living room from the entry. Photo by Tea Tree Productions.

Well over a million dollars have been spent modernizing the house, and it shows in every room.

Floor to ceiling sliding glass leads to the elegant swimming pool from the living/dining area as well as the kitchen, making entertainment a breeze. The kitchen cabinetry is classic Mid-Century, all featuring horizontal-grain walnut that’s evocative of the Frank Bros. Danish stylings that were key to Southern California Mid-Century homes.

More Ipe wood decorates the bar and living room as well as the backyard deck.

The primary bedroom, with a cavernous walk-in closet, a spacious sitting and more sliding glass leading into a garden area.

An illuminated swimming pool is in the foreground. Behind it is the main house with several windows showing gold lighting, as well as a patio set and umbrella.
The La Perla Avenue home’s swimming pool, spa and patio. Photo by Tea Tree Productions.

The saltwater pool itself is a work of art, with terraced steps leading to the water and the spa. Swimmers can enjoy movies on the pool’s spa projector. Adjacent to the pool is a built-in barbecue, Kegerator, refrigerator and sink along with a fireplace and a portable fire pit. Barring calamitous weather, there’s no compelling reason to leave the backyard.

Finally, there’s the brains of the place: A Savant home automation system costing nearly a million dollars alone, according to Coombs. The system controls the home’s lighting and its colors (which can be set by theme), the retractable patio shades, the pool and its projector, security cameras and just about anything else you can plug in, all from a smartphone app. It makes Alexa look like a slacker teen who won’t leave her room to help with the chores.

The prime location of the home in the classic architectural neighborhood makes 1440 La Perla a solid step up in class if you’ve been growing weary of one of the less prestigious examples of Mid-Modern architecture and are ready to join the big leagues.

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