Mansion built for Cold War CIA director in San Marino sells for $30M

Sale of 5-acre estate marks the highest price ever for a home in the San Gabriel Valley

Mansion Built for CIA Director in San Marino Sells for $30M
Former CIA Director John McCone and 1100 Oak Grove Avenue, San Marino (Google Maps, Wikipedia/Central Intelligence Agency)

An estate built for former CIA Director John McCone in San Marino has sold for $30 million, the priciest sale ever in a city of regal residences.

An unidentified buyer paid $7.5 million above the asking price for the 13,700-square-foot mansion at 1100 Oak Grove Avenue, the Los Angeles Times reported. The name of the seller was also not disclosed.

The sale of the neoclassical-style mansion marks the highest price paid for a house in San Marino or the San Gabriel Valley. It eclipses the previous record held by the USC presidential mansion, which sold in 2021 for $25 million.

The nine-bedroom, 15-bathroom estate, which includes three homes on 5 acres, was listed last month for $22.5 million. San Marino is a tiny city east of Los Angeles and south of Pasadena where the Huntington Library is located.

The property, hidden behind 20-foot privacy hedges, includes the mansion built for McCone in 1957, where he lived for more than 20 years before selling it in 1979 for $1.4 million.

The white mansion has 15-foot ceilings, carved wood doorways and ornate mantels, with marble patios looking out onto rolling lawns.  

Pathways meander through the grounds, which include waterfalls, streams, a greenhouse, workshop, rose garden and 50-foot-long swimming pool. 

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Buyer interest was strong.

“Showings lasted up to four hours,” Compass agent Brent Chang, who handled the sale, told the Times. Nicholas Borrelli of Coldwell Banker George Realty represented the unidentified buyer.

Chang, who also handled the $25-million sale of the USC presidential mansion, said the McCone home became a destination for U.S. politicians and international dignitaries during McCone’s ownership, including President Dwight Eisenhower and members of the Kennedy family.

An industrialist and California native, McCone built the estate a year before serving as chair of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was CIA director under President John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965, managing the spy agency during the Cuban missile crisis and the early part of the Vietnam War. 

He also led the controversial commission that investigated the roots and causes of the Watts riots in 1965. He died in 1991.

— Dana Bartholomew

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