This Renovated Mid-Century Modern in Altadena Has an Art-Filled History

Altadena, CA, is known as the backyard for the smarty-pants scientists who work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

However, "Before science, the city was all about art," real estate agent Henry Plascencia says. And he has the listing to prove it. A Mid-Century Modern compound with a main house and a guesthouse listed for $1,088,000 is already under contract after less than two weeks on the market.

The property, which sits on about a half-acre in the upper foothills of Altadena, has an arty backstory. Sculptor David Oliver Green originally bought the land in the '40s and had architect and UCLA professor Frederick Monhoff design a one-bedroom retreat in 1949. Fun fact: The street it's on, Jaxine Drive, was renamed for Green's wife, Jaxine.

A second home, designed by USC architecture professor Randell Makinson, was added in 1964, becoming the main home. The original one-bedroom retreat was converted into an art studio.

Green, whose wife preceded him in death, died in 2000 at the age of 92. With no heirs, the property was passed on to a caregiver and neighbor. According to Curbed, the property was sold last summer for $905,000 to an East Coast couple who planned to update both structures on the property and move West.

The new owners jumped right in, turning the studio back into a guesthouse. The loftlike space now features white walls, marble kitchen counters, stone floors, and a sliding wall panel that opens to a private patio.

The charmer won glowing coverage in the July 2015 issue of Dwell magazine.

But the owners decided not to move West after all and put the compound back on the market a year later.

"The owners were going to live in the guest studio and redo the main house," the agent says. Before their change in plans, they managed some updates, including new flooring and kitchen appliances, Plascencia notes. They kept the original architectural elements.

The main house features sculpted ceilings, clerestory windows, and walls of glass that open onto a full-length deck with canyon views.

Plascencia notes that Altadena, about 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is finally getting some love.

"It's a place where you can get a good selection of true Mid-Century Modern architecture. And I think that's a big draw," he says. This property is an "incredible presence: the architecture, the setting, and the size of the lot."