“Old California meets modern luxury!” So reads the tagline for the estate home at 16161 Puerta Del Sol, one of the first mansions constructed in what would become the coveted Rancho Santa Fe Covenant, now famous as one of the country’s toniest locales.
The home, originally constructed in 1928 and featuring seven bedrooms and eight baths spread across an estimated 7000 square feet of living space under roof, was designed by Lilian Jeannette Rice, a native of National City who spent much of the 1920s as the lead designer of the new community in Rancho Santa Fe and the driving force behind historical structures including the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. In 1931 she became one of the first women admitted to San Diego’s chapter of the American Institute of Architecture.
The estate, designed in a Spanish Revival style, sits on three acres near the Covenant’s western boundary. The main residence includes four bedrooms, five baths, and according to a former listing “a gracious formal living room, elegant library, formal dining room, and a gourmet kitchen that opens to the airy family room.”
Luxury appointments include “mahogany hardwood floors, hand painted Spanish tiles and custom ceiling lights,” all of which were subjected to an extensive professional restoration in the mid-2000s “to enhance the authenticity of this classic home.”
An older listing also promises a below-ground wine cellar and “magnificent home theater” with a “Spanish-style stage, mahogany ceiling, and a dramatic mural inspired by Diego Rivera’s ‘Mexican Independence.’”
The active listing, meanwhile, boasts about the home’s “resort-like setting featuring a salt-water pool/solar-heated spa, fountains, Wisteria-wrapped loggia & arcade, guest house, theater, steam room, citrus orchard, outdoor living spaces & mature landscaping.”
The most recent reported sale on the Puerta Del Sol home was for $3.3 million in late 2015, when it was purchased by John Tehranian, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Previous listings, some dating to before the housing crash of the late 2000s, had sought a sale for as much as $5.5 million.
Due to its historic status, the property enjoys Mills Act tax savings resulting in a total property tax in 2017 of just over $10,000. Historic designation obligates future owners to maintain period-specific architectural features that make the home significant, but it also shaves a considerable amount off an annual tax bill that otherwise would exceed $40,000.
Over the last 20 years, the Puerta Del Sol estate has been publicly offered for sale eight times — only two of those have resulted in sales. Listed for the first time since its last sale, agents for the home are currently seeking offers between $3.9 and $4.2 million, a price that’s remained unchanged since late April. ■