Set against sweeping panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, this French Neoclassical residence is listed by Joyce Rey, Jade Mills and Alexandra Allen of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
Situated on Nimes Road, the main house was originally constructed in 1933 after civil engineer Lynn Atkinson acquired seven acres of the current property. Envisioning a one-of-a-kind estate, Atkinson commissioned architect Sumner Spaulding to craft an exterior that would stand the test of time.
To this day, the lavish grounds — designed by landscape architect Francois Goffinet — evoke a sense of extreme grandeur and elegance. You are first greeted by wrought iron gates that open to a meandering driveway surfaced in decomposed granite, found only in the most authentic French homes. As you enter the property, you feel as though you’ve stepped out of California and into the French countryside.
“Driving down the long, winding driveway along a lush landscape of trees and manicured hedges will make you feel as if you are in Europe,” Allen explains.
“Visiting this extraordinary property is like being transported to a grand manor in France,” agrees Mills. “The grounds rival the Palace of Versailles. It is absolute perfection in every way.”
The rose garden, multiple viewing decks and various koi ponds with waterfalls radiate a sense of serenity and relaxation. “Chartwell feels like a peaceful oasis removed from the city, but still minutes away from the heart of Beverly Hills,” says Allen. Carob trees, manicured boxwoods, and oak trees grace the property with beautiful symmetry, meanwhile the towering redwood grove is perfect for a tranquil stroll. Meandering through the walking trails, you will be surrounded by nature — listen to the birds chirping and the waterfalls flowing, smell the fresh air emanating from the many trees, and gaze out at perfectly landscaped grounds.
“The magnificently landscaped acreage of Chartwell offers the ultimate in privacy and serenity,” says Rey.
When you step into the entry hall — complete with 14-foot ceilings and back and white marble floors — you are greeted by the exquisite work of French designer Henri Samuel, as well as the craftsmanship of authentic French artisans.
Jerry Perenchio, the former chairman and CEO of Univision who is credited with building the media company’s empire, was Chartwell’s third owner. He purchased the estate in 1986, and later acquired three contiguous properties — bringing the estate to 10.3 acres. “I don’t think you would ever be able to assemble this amount of land in such a prime area today,” Rey says.
Within five years, the entire estate was renovated and completed with European antiques and hand-crafted features. “Many of the materials and design elements were sourced in Europe, including 18th-century parquet de Versailles flooring, intricate wall paneling, and coved ceiling details,” says Allen. “The estate is simply unique because it is impossible to find this level of remarkable craftsmanship today. No one builds like the talented French artisans who came from Europe and spent years creating this property,” says Rey.
Mills adds, “This property is absolute timeless elegance. It is an iconic architectural jewel with unbelievable acreage in the heart of prime Bel Air.”
The approximately 25,000-square-foot main residence boasts a floor plan ideal for entertaining, with a ballroom, bar, formal salon, period-paneled dining room, 12,000-bottle wine cellar, and covered parking for 40 cars. The lower-level living room/ballroom, which can be configured for an array of events, once hosted Lady Gaga as she performed for Perenchio on his birthday, according to Rey. “I am sure that many people have enjoyed amazing evenings in that room,” says Rey, who adds that this is her favorite room and refers to the space as “the heart of the home.”
The guesthouse, designed by architect Wallace Neff and built in 1931, was originally a separate estate, and offers 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, a formal living room, dining room, and grand entry foyer with a two-story staircase. Surrounded by specimen trees and large terraces, the 75-foot pool is also ideal for entertaining. The pool house — designed by renowned French architect Pierre Barbe — offers a circular bar, formal dining area, sitting area, two changing rooms and a large kitchen.
“It is hard to pick just one favorite space, but I love the pool area and the pool house. The pool pavilion is absolutely gorgeous and incredibly private,” Mills says. “This property is the ultimate setting for entertaining in lavish style, while it also has intimate settings for privacy and tranquility.”
If you’d like to take a break from entertaining, the home offers many serene settings — both inside and out. The light-filled morning room includes 18th-century parquet de Versailles flooring and a coved ceiling imported from Paris. Meanwhile, the garden room features late 18th-century Japanese panels from Samuel’s personal collection. Or, you may choose to take in the sensational views from the master suite — the grand fountain and lawn from the master bath, or downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean from the master sitting room.
“The sweeping panoramic views are just absolutely breathtaking,” says Mills, who notes that the property offers every type of view imaginable. “When you’re not gazing out toward the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean or the shimmering lights of the city, you are looking out at the expansive green lawns and mature redwood trees.”
Although the home exudes class and elegance, Rey notes that “its classical design can be easily reinterpreted to suit a new buyer’s choices.”
875 Nimes Road
Los Angeles, California
15 bedrooms, 18 baths
Represented by: Joyce Rey, Jade Mills and Alexandra Allen
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
This article originally appeared in Homes & Estates magazine.
By Alyssa Gautieri
All photos by ©Jim Bartsch