The Ad Astra Estate in La Cañada Flintridge, California, is a Southern Colonial Revival designed by architect Paul Revere Williams in 1935.
It sits on 2 acres and comes with a charming Victorian guest cottage and a small red barn in back.
Take a look!
The Ad Astra Estate Designed by Paul Williams
Ad Astra is Latin for “to the stars.”
There are indoor/outdoor spaces all around the house like this.
Williams frequently planned outdoor spaces that were extensions of indoor ones for his clients.
Paul Williams was an African-American architect who was known for modern interpretations of classic styles. He designed houses for numerous celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lucille Ball.
The listing says, “Painstakingly renovated, remodeled and expanded over the last decade, this lifestyle retreat is arguably the most spacious and unique homestead in all of La Canada.”
The main house has nearly 6,000 square feet.
His houses are in demand and don’t come on the market very often.
Bret Parsons of the John Aaroe Group told NPR that when Williams homes do come up for sale, real estate agents scramble for the listings: “They’re gobbled up in seconds. They’re an absolute pedigree for someone to have in their arsenal.”
Paul Revere Williams was orphaned at the age of 4 and raised by a family friend who taught him he could be and do whatever he set his mind to, regardless of his race.
His granddaughter Karen E. Hudson says he often designed houses in areas where he wouldn’t have been allowed to live himself: “The land deed said a black person could not even spend the night.”
I found it fascinating learning about this amazing man. In a 1937 essay for American Magazine called “I Am a Negro,” Williams wrote, “Virtually everything pertaining to my professional life during those early years was influenced by my need to offset race prejudice, by my effort to force white people to consider me as an individual rather than a member of a race.”
Williams was the first black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923. His houses are still sought after all these years later.
Thanks to Partners Trust Realty for sharing this property with us.
For more information, check the listing.
Photo credit: Erik Grammer.
To learn more about Paul Williams: NPR and the Paul R Williams Project.
The main house is just beautiful, but I’d be perfectly happy with the cottage! What a unique property.
Looks very old Hollywood–like a silent screen star lived there once (“Max!”) 🙂
While the main house is beautiful, I’m liking the original cottage more. It’s perfect AND has that barn with studio. I can live in the cottage and do my art in the barn! Perfection!
Alie B says
As Peggy and Dean said…..I’ll take the cottage! The main house is pretty impressive, however. The renos were really well done. I too would like to see some before shots, Julia, especially of the kitchen. Interesting post! Thanks for your efforts. Good luck with the re-design. You know we’ll be here for you, no matter what kinks and glitches might occur. 🙂
Thanks, Alie! 🙂
Relaxing, lovely home. I loved everything about the decor and the flow (but the canned lights in every room, which make me itch…and make me wonder if they lowered the ceilings…?). But, wowza!, the cottage and barn? Now, that makes me swoon. I’d buy the house just to live in the cottage and work in the barn.
Franklin Barger says
You might already be aware, but the home used as the Colby Mansion was actually the home of Barron Hilton (as in Hilton Hotels) and also served as the West Coast home of Richard and Kathy Hilton. I was fortunate enough to be a guest at a very large party there in the late 90’s. The home was a time capsule complete with all of its Williams charm. It was beautiful. It was stuffed with reproduction french furniture from the 40s and 50s and the overall interior color scheme was a very pale, blush pink. Unfortunately no photography was allowed.
Oh, wow, how fun that you got to actually visit that house, Franklin! I wonder if it’s been updated much since then? I’d love to see inside!
[email protected] says
I started to write a comment about the main house, but it was turning into a rather long post. So I’ll just say, the guest cottage is perfect 🙂
Wow. Really interesting house. You dug up some great info on the architect, too. Interesting stuff. I LOVE the Peruvian rugs all over the house! Some interesting wood elements throughout the house as well from the mantle to the cool built-ins…and that butler’s pantry.
What an idyllic place. I’d love to stay there for a month, but I’d love to live forever in that gorgeous cottage, if I could paint in the red barn. Fun, and great information about Paul Williams. I didn’t know about him.
Hi Laura! I really got absorbed in the research about him when I was working on this post. I tried to just give the highlights but recommend anyone who’s interested to follow those links to read more. I found the stories about his life to be really inspiring!
Love, love, love the guest cottage! But….is the fireplace in the entryway? It looks like it’s facing the front door….kind of a strange location for a fireplace….how would you gather around it on a cold winter night sipping hot chocolate?
The house is nice, but I’m in love with that cottage!
I’d heard of Paul Williams before, but I didn’t realize he was black. When you mentioned that he wasn’t allowed to live in some of the places he designed houses, it reminded me of when I bought a house in Pebble Beach about 18 years ago. They gave me all the old papers that came with the house originally and with them was a paper with the rules, including that no black people could own a home in there. I still have that paper somewhere, but that was a few houses ago lol
Anyway, very interesting stuff, Julia 🙂
Oh, wow, and when you think about it, it really wasn’t that long ago in history that those things were happening. Makes it even more amazing that he accomplished all that he did as an architect considering how restrictive the times were!
I too am amazed at how well he did as an architect back in those days. I hope he was treated well and his clients payed him right.
Jewelry Lover says
Thank you for this lovely post about Paul Williams. I read somewhere that he never extended his hand for a handshake, even to his own clients, because so many refused to shake the hand of a black man. I’m sure Frank Sinatra offered his hand and I hope Lucille Ball offered hers as well.
Yes, I remember reading about that! His granddaughter said he would walk with his hands behind his back so no one would feel obligated to shake it. Like you I hope most of his clients extended theirs anyway!
Like others, I too would gladly move into that cottage. It looks so charming and cozy.
jill palumbo says
This is probably one of the first mansions I’ve seen where I actually liked the décor. For such a grand house, the inside is warm and liveable instead of fancy and showy. I love it!
Oh, I would use that as a “party barn”! How fun! This is a lovely house, and it was interesting reading about Paul Williams. I really do wish they had been able to use a picture when all that wisteria was blooming on the porch; with it dormant it looks kind of messy, but I bet it’s absolutely stunning in bloom!
Carmen DaCosta says
Great post! I love the main house. The indoor/outdoor transition spaces are amazing. I am going to follow the links. Do you know what his personal home looked like. I love to see what an architect will do when he is not restrained by his clients vision.
I agree with the others, I want the cottage and the barn.
The main house is beautiful, though I must say I’m just not a fan of the kitchen. Not my style.
I’m going to sit and imagine that barn being my crafting room for the rest of the day….
Penelope Bianchi says
This is such a fabulous house!!! Sheesh! This was built when there were horses and there are still trails!!!) He was the best architecht!!!!! the best!what a gem! So close to Los Angeles! And Paul Williams was the best of the best!!!
What a lovely house!!!
Kim Blair says
Julia – Such a beautiful house. Many here say they’d want the guest house. Not me – I’d want the main house. “Charming” might seem a funny word to describe such a grand place but really it applies so perfectly here. Love that dining room with the huge square table – you don’t see that very often. Only thing that really doesn’t work is that teeny tiny little light fixture in the living room. Way out of place – but that’s a quick fix.
John Peterson says
I am looking for the 1930’s – 1940’s Ad Astra horse ranch, once occupied/owned by Justine Mosse and her father Arthur Mosse. The information I have found, so far, indicates the were located in Van Nuys. The Mosse’s cared for a thoroughbred horse named Morvich, the 1922 Kentucky Derby winner, during his last years. It is possible that Morvich was buried on that ranch. Could this be the Ad Astra I am searching for?