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Selling Phil Hill’s 1920s Spanish

Posted by admin on October 2, 2020
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About 10 days ago, after a 10 day marketing period and a 7 day escrow our listing at 266 20th St closed escrow. It is an  extraordinary North of Montana home. This property was a realtor’s dream; it was unique, full of character & history and received a flurry of activity from many, very interested buyers.

I had intended to share its rich and interesting history when I first listed it but being swarmed with showing requests and offers to purchase, I figured I’d better wait! So, while this home has already been purchased by one lucky buyer, I wanted to share with my readers a little about this home previously owned by legendary race car driver, Phil Hill.

Phil Hill, the first American to achieve the highest crowning achievements in worldwide motorsports, winning the Formula One Championship and a three-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours race, all with Ferrari, grew up on 20th Street in Santa Monica.  It was Phil’s Aunt, Helen Grasselli, who in 1931 bought the property, a grand example of the stylish Spanish Colonial Revival architecture that swept through Southern California in 1920s.   Phil was two years old when his Aunt Helen moved into her new home, while Phil’s family settled in, just down the street.  Phil’s father, Philip Sr. was postmaster of Santa Monica and in 1938 spearheaded the opening of the Federal New-Deal Post office on 5th Street.  Phil’s Aunt, with no children of her own, shared a close bond with her nephew Phil, both of whom shared an obsession for fine automobiles.  In 1930, she took ownership of a dazzling custom-bodied Pierce Arrow chauffeur-driven town car that would remain in the same garage on 20th for more than 80 years.  As a teenager, Phil seeking solace from a crowded family home, moved into a room at his Aunt’s house, and indulged in his fascination with cars in his Aunt’s garage.  Phil ultimately acquired the home from his Aunt after she had moved out in the late 1950s, making the purchase official in 1961.

While Phil was reaching the heights of fame as an International racing driver, spending the Fall and Winter in Santa Monica, he expanded the garage in the 1960s converting the once two-car garage to a 9-car garage complete with a workshop, basement, and three-phase 220V power.  It was here that Phil start a new chapter in his life after racing, restoring classic cars.  His business, Hill & Vaughn, which eventually moved to Lincoln Blvd, went on to become Los Angeles premiere Classic Car restoration shop.

The home, which Phil had never remodeled, however had refurbished extensively in the early 1960s, served as a place to entertain Hollywood celebrity friends like director John Frankenheimer, Paul Newman and other racing minded folks.  Racing luminaries such as Juan Manual Fangio, Niki Lauda, Dan Gurney, and Carroll Shelby were just some of names who frequented Phil’s home.  A music lover at heart, Phil had converted the den into the “Music Room” installing state of the art Hi-Fi equipment in the 1960s and filling the house with a history of musical reproducing machines and pianos.  Phil hosted multiple piano concerts in the high-arched living room with duet concert pianists, Steve and Nadia Gordon.  Eventually, Phil turned to raising a family, where he and his wife, Alma Hill, raised their children.

Helen Grasselli, who purchased the property new from the architect, Frank Bivens, had an eye for quality.  As Phil put it, “She seemed to have an instinctive feeling for things which were solid and worthwhile, and she influenced me subtly along these lines.”  It was good enough reason for Phil to stay put in his life-long home on 20th St.  Phil passed away in Community Hospital of Monterey County in 2008, admitted while in attendance of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

In other North of Montana real estate news…

There are currently 19 active listings, they have been on the market for an average of 52 days. The average list price is $7,500,000 with an average $/SQFT of $1200.

There are currently 8 properties in escrow.

In the third quarter, 22 properties sold. The average sales price was $5,400,000 and it took an average of 35 days on the market. The average $/SQFT was $1367.

As I mentioned in my introduction, the demand for the home we just sold on 20th was overwhelming! If you happen to own an early Spanish-style home, there may never be a better time to sell! Call me if you are interest in entertaining purchase offers, I think you may be surprised by the velocity of the market right now!

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