victorianNELA’s first magnificent homes were built in the 19th century. Fortunately, some survived.

For true aficionados of vintage homes in Northeast LA (NELA), forget the Craftsmans and Bungalows. The real deal is in the Victorians.

Victorian architecture is all about the exuberance of the late 19th century. It hearkens to the prim extravagance of the British empire, coupled with the rise of mass-produced products that made comfortable and attractive homes accessible to the middle class. These were the first homes to have indoor plumbing and electric lighting, both of which were considered giant leaps forward in domestic living.

Victorian-style homes are characterized also by a style of decoration that gave us “Painted Ladies.” While riotous gingerbread might be the signature, the formality of these homes evoke a certain British class system, as many feature small bedrooms over the kitchen, quarters for live-in help. Kitchens were for food preparation, not eating, while the dining room was generously proportioned and ornate.

Victorian rooms had distinct functions. Parlors in front might be separated by pocket-doors, a literal compartmentalization that allowed men to smoke cigars one or two rooms removed from ladies sipping tea.

Victorians were designed by some of the great architects of the era (Frederick L. Roehrig, Joseph Cather Newsom, J.L. Frank and others). But like the Craftsman homes that followed, some arrived on trains from Sears, Roebuck & Company, referred to as catalog homes. The model #303 from Sears was a mansion with a 43-foot long wrap-around porch, two turrets, five bedrooms, front and back staircases, a sewing room off the living room and a trunk room above it, adjacent to the single bathroom.

Victorians were rapidly outdated by the advance of building technologies (such as insulation, electrification, improved heating systems) that came in the 20th century. Consequently, many were lost before the style was rediscovered and valued once again.

Lovingly restored and modernized Victorian mansions might list for $2.0 million or more in places such as Eagle Rock, Pasadena, and South Pasadena. To see what’s available on the market now, contact Steve Aranda at 360 Real Estate Group (323-868-6242). Steve is an expert in buying and selling real estate in NELA, having represented buyers and sellers in the area for more than 13 years.

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