Pair of SoCal Hilltop Pearls

Bundling two MCM prizes into one—plus remarkable backstories and rich legacies
Fridays on the Homefront
It's a unique and unusual mid-century property for sale in Southern California—two houses, bundled together as a single property, by different, masterful practitioners of MCM design—Thornton Ladd and A. Quincy Jones. Above: Prize #1: the Ladd house. All house photos: Shawn Bishop Photography / courtesy The Agency

After nearly three months on the market, two buyers are reportedly 'circling' around the possible purchase of one of the most unique mid-century modern properties in all Los Angeles County, one that comes with several unusual extras.

Need multiple structures with stimulating modern design by pedigreed architects (including one of Joe Eichler's favorites)? Check. Want your purchase to fund progress toward global sustainability? Check. Covet a bird's eye view of the Rose Bowl and a chance to extend a long legacy of philanthropy in the San Gabriel Valley?

Allow us to introduce one of the valley's most unsung gems—the Hixon estate at 1100 Paso Alto Road in Pasadena.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Ladd house rear.

"I've never seen a property like this," marveled realtor Gus Ruelas, who first put the listing on the market in late October at $12.5 million for The Agency. "By far the most interesting property I've seen in Pasadena in 20 years in the business."

What makes this listing so unusual? Well, you have to start with the presence of two houses, bundled together as a single property, by different, masterful practitioners of mid-century modern design.

The older of the two was the work of Pasadena architect Thornton Ladd, who built the three-bed, four-bath home in the Linda Vista Hills for his mother in either 1949 or 1954 (sources disagree). It boasts numerous iconic MCM treats like terrazzo flooring, Heath tile, and walls of glass facing courtyards, a reflecting pool, and mature trees.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Ladd house interior.

Ladd's own local legacy as a visionary modernist is built on numerous striking designs, including what is now called the Norton Simon Museum (with partner John Field Kelsey) and the Methodist church that appeared in the climax of the film 'The Graduate.'

As beautiful a modern home as Ladd designed here, Ruelas said, "I think the Jones property is the most interesting of the two."

That would be the late-'60s palace designed by Eichler architect A. Quincy Jones. As a realtor, Ruelas is banking on its remarkable appeal based, he said, on "the lines, the scale…the architecture that I think is just amazing—that's the value."

Architect Thornton Ladd (right) with mid-century design partner John Kelsey. Photo courtesy Jennifer Kelsey

"You walk into it and you just stop and go 'wow,'" said Ruelas of the 6,500-square-foot home, which feels like it's right on top of the Rose Bowl when gazing through one of its two-story walls of glass. Other cool features of the house include a fireplace in the middle of the living room, a waterfall, and an indoor-outdoor koi pond.