El Fureidis – translated as ‘tropical paradise’ – is one of Montecito’s most celebrated estates. The property is located at 631 Parra Grande Lane, Montecito, CA, 93108. The history of this property is quite colorful, including being known as a botanical garden, being the home used in the 1983 movie, “Scarface,” and also being defined in the early 1900’s as one of the top 15 places in the United States to visit.
This property is now not only a historical treasure trove… it’s also for sale. That’s right. All 17.8 million dollars of it. While that may sound like a lot, you should know they cut the price in half due to the market that never fully recovered. That means the original asking price was $35 million.
Why would it be worth that much? What besides movie fame and fancy plants makes the place so valuable? I’m glad you asked.
We can start with the obvious of 10,000 square feet, four bedrooms, nine bathrooms (because why should anyone have to wait?) and more fountains than a surfaced pod of whales. However, that’s just scratching the surface.
We could also cover the 10 acres of grounds with botanical wonders, including some trees that are over 100 years old.
However, it turns out that the historical and architectural value runs far deeper than all of that.
The home is the love child of New York visionary, James Waldron Gillespie, and architect extraordinaire, Bertram Goodhue.
Goodhue’s works include the Los Angeles Central Library, Saint Thomas Church in New York City, the Nebraska State Capitol, and the Chapel and Original Campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
El Fureidis is known as Bertram Goodhue’s outstanding Mediterranean Revival masterpiece.
He was able to accomplish that after he and Gillespie decided to go on a one year trip to Europe and the Mediterranean for inspiration.
That’s right, an all expense paid trip including over 500 miles on horseback (it was the early 1900’s after all) from the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Persia. Just to build a house. I should have been an architect…
See that dome? That’s an 18-foot-high central dome that’s decorated with a floral hand-painted, gold and blue design in 24k gold-leaf modeled after the church of St. John Lateran in Rome.
Basically, the dynamic duo of Gillespie and Goodhue spared no expense in the creation of this estate, after its founding in 1906.
That original $35 million dollar price is starting to make sense right about now.
To really hit it home, however, we should mention that this dining room has a barreled ceiling painted in 24k gold leaf and depicting a scene of Alexander the Great conquering Persepolis by Henry Wadsworth Moore. The original signature by the artist is still intact.
Historically, this home has been a place of sanctuary and pleasure for a number of historical tenants and visitors.
Such tenants and visitors include Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Charles Chaplin, and John F. Kennedy.
This mansion recently underwent renovation.
Many of the original fixtures and appointments remain, and are now coupled with fully modernized and deluxe appointments in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry facilities. This includes radiant floor heating, a steam shower, and top-end appliances.