Seminal LA architect John Parkinson’s house hits market with room to grow

Designed 808 Woodacres Road in Santa Monica before work on LA, City Hall, Coliseum, Union Station

John Parkinson with 808 Woodacres Rd (Anthony Barcelo, BBC, iStock)
John Parkinson with 808 Woodacres Rd (Anthony Barcelo, BBC, iStock)

John Parkinson was the architect for Los Angeles area landmarks such as the City Hall made famous around the world thanks to TV, the Memorial Coliseum that first put the place on the world stage, and the Art Deco standard of Union Station.

There’s also 808 Woodacres Road in Santa Monica–the home that Parkinson built for his family, now designated as a historical landmark. It will be officially re-listed this week for $14.25 million by Mary Beth Woods, Christopher Damon and Joyce Rey, all affiliated with Coldwell Banker.

Built in 1921, Parkinson’s Spanish Colonial Revival sits on a lot of approximately one-and-a-quarter acre within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to the exclusive Riviera Country Club, where some homes are valued north of $20 million.

The City of Santa Monica designated the home as an official landmark in 2019, just before it was going to be put on the market for $20 million. The most recent owners, the Alphson family bought the house in 1966 and did not seek publicity for the residence, which is one reason why it had not been flagged to be a landmark years ago, according to Tara Hamacher, a former cultural heritage commissioner of the City of Los Angeles who now advises buyers on how to use tax incentives for private citizens to acquire and preserve historic properties.

The Parkinson home was taken off the market due to a lawsuit over disagreement on how the property could be renovated and resolved in 2021. The historical designation was not changed for the 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom residence, making it against the law to take down 100-year-old features such as the residence’s wooden ceilings, wrought iron stairway railings and clay tile roof.

The historic registration is just one part of this property’s story, according to the suit’s resolution. Hamacher also advised that there is nothing in the settlement or federal and local laws that would prohibit a buyer from adding separate buildings on the expansive backyard of 808 Woodacres.

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That’s a key point because “the amount of land available is unusual,” Hamacher said. “There is a lot of privacy here that is not typically available,” she said.

Reinforcing the property’s seclusion are a thick covering of mature trees surrounding the Parkinson residence. The original owner did some landscaping behind the house–a sunken garden he developed is still on the grounds. The Alphson family added a two-story guesthouse, a tennis court and a swimming pool in the back of the residence.

But there’s a lot of green space, said Coldwell agent Woods.

Historic Consultants’ finding that nothing prohibits a separate addition means there’s also an opportunity to build another structure behind the historic residence, said Damon, who was recruited to this project in part because of his expertise in properties with potential for development.

That doesn’t mean there’s no red tape, though–a new owner will be required to submit applications to the city of Santa Monica if they want to build.

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