Danny Gerardi was 8 years old when he first learned about the sprawling old house on Via Monte Doro in Redondo Beach.
With its majestic central turret, overhanging stone balconies and massive size, the kids in the neighborhood called it “the castle.” On Halloween, scores of costumed youngsters would flock to the place for candy just so they could get a peek inside.
Little did he know that almost 50 years later, the “castle” would be his.
“When I saw it I just thought, “Oh my God, how beautiful,’” Gerardi said, recalling how as a child he used to walk by the property from his home around the corner, just to see it. “I used to try to peek in the windows. I just loved it.”
When he was 10, he finally had the courage to march up the stately stone steps and knock on the door.
“I said, ‘Hi, I’m Danny. Can I see your house?’”
Lucky for him, the woman who owned the house let him in.
“I came back the next day, and then about four or five times a week until 1971,” Gerardi said. “We became great friends. . . . She called me an old soul because we’d just sit and talk about the house.”
Looking back, Gerardi spent much of his life waiting to buy the home. The opportunity didn’t come for him until 2016, after a successful international career in horse training—and other property ventures—finally allowed it.
“It was a dream coming to fruition; it was beautiful,” said Gerardi’s husband, Trevor Gerardi-Miller, who started dating Gerardi around the same time he bought the home. “I was honored to be a part of it, to witness it. It’s something that dreams are made of.”
Stepping inside the nearly 7,000-square-foot home is like walking back in time. Built in 1928 by real estate developer Clifford Reid, it was constructed to resemble an Italian estate. Reid founded and named the surrounding Hollywood Riviera in an effort to re-create the French Riviera.
“When Clifford Reid originally built this house, he brought in artisans from around the world,” said real estate broker Aaron Klapper of Christie’s International Real Estate. “He wanted to re-create, truly, an Italian estate like it was done in the old country.”
That means, for instance, every roof tile was handmade and weighs more than 20 pounds and that the imported Italian tile floor—as well as the fresco ceilings—were hand-painted on the premises. Even the iron was turned on the property
“Wood carvers, glass work, painters—everything was done on the premises,” Klapper said.
When it was constructed, the home sat on a remote hillside, a lone palace nestled atop 50 acres of untouched land that stretched all the way to the ocean.
Today,it sits on a triple-lot and is tucked into a picturesque suburban neighborhood a few blocks from the bustling Riviera Village.
There have been four owners since its construction, but each one has kept the opulence and character of the place intact.
Consequently, the inside looks as if nothing has changed. The furniture remains, albeit reupholstered. The rug that sprawls across the formal living room, looks untouched by time (and was recently appraised for more than $300,000). Even the home’s archaic intercoms and clunky wall telephones still stand—echoes of the past that lend the home a wondrous feeling of other-worldliness.
Of course, it takes a lot of work to keep a home looking the same, even as time lurches past. Gerardi said he spent $400,000 to update the electrical systems, alone—with a total of almost $4 million to renovate, reupholster, customize, rewire and modernize everything else in a way that preserved the 1920s feel while also offering modern amenities.
“The kitchen, bathrooms, things like TV, electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning—all of it is brand new,” Klapper said. “But it keeps the wonderful sense of a 1920s house.”
There are new secrets, too: A movie screen is hidden in the living room ceiling, for instance, with the projector lowering down with the push of a button. Similarly, 100-inch TVs are hidden inside wooden dressers in three of the home’s bedrooms.
“You can appreciate the room as it was 100 years ago, but if you want to watch a big screen and you want to put the heat or the air conditioning on, it’s all totally covered,” Klapper said.
Gerardi also added several art and furniture pieces to the home, including a massive Baccarat crystal chandelier in the entry hall, an 18th century fountain in the yard that was imported from Malcolm Forbes’ Italian estate, and a Romanesque statue that took an artist more than a year to carve from a marble slab.
“I spared nothing,” Gerardi said.
In the end, perhaps, it was the ongoing expenses—combined with the fact that Gerardi and his husband spend most of their time at their Ventura County ranch—that led Gerardi to put the house up for sale. The asking price is nearly $12 million.
“It’s just not realistic [to stay],” he said. “I have the housekeeper here. I have the gardener here three days a week. My brother comes and gets the mail—but we’re not here.”
Now there’s the (multi) million dollar question: Who will be next to buy the fully-furnished home, that feels as if it was teleported from the 1920s to the 21st century?
“My opinion on the person that buys this house is that it’s going to be someone who doesn’t necessarily need to buy a house,” Klapper said. “Someone who has an appreciation for fine artistic expression—whether it’s a piece of art or an automobile or, in this case, a house—is going to see it, appreciate it, fall in love with it and they’re going to have to have it.”
AT A GLANCE:
124 VIA MONTE D’ORO in Redondo Beach
5 Full Baths; 2 Partial Baths
Interior: 6,756 square feet
Exterior: .52 acres (property sits on a triple lot)
Features: Imported Italian tile flooring, hand finished plaster walls, fresco ceilings, Baccarat chandelier plus other high end chandeliers, custom silk draperies, ocean view, sprawling closets, library, sun room, new kitchen & bathrooms with state-of-the-art appliances, antique furnishings, front lawn fountain imported from Florence dating back to the late 1700s, vintage 1910 oriental rug (appraised at more than $300,000).
*Story updated 12/20/19 at 4 p.m. to reflect that Gerardi did not speak to Dorothy Chandler as she did not own the home. According to property tax records, the home was owned by Robert and Jo Edd Chandler.