Cravens Estate in Pasadena Put on Market by Palisadian Realtor

By Bill Bruns
Palisades News Adviser 

The historic John S. Cravens Estate, a Cultural Heritage Landmark in Pasadena, has come on the market for the first time in 55 years, and Palisadian Josie Tong is the co-listing agent for Sotheby’s International Realty.

She and co-agent Gretchen Seager are donating 100 percent of their commissions and marketing expenses to the American Red Cross, which has owned the mansion since 1962. The listing price is $10,500,000.

Situated on “Millionaire’s Row,” along tree-lined Orange Grove Boulevard and Madeline Drive, the Cravens Estate was designed by Lewis P. Hobart and completed in 1930 by the P.J. Walker Company, which also built the Los Angeles Times building, Bullock’s Wilshire in Los Angeles, the Doheny Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara.

The magnificent wrought-iron-and-glass skylight over the curved staircase was imported from France. Photo: Douglas Hill Photography

The magnificent wrought-iron-and-glass skylight over the curved staircase was imported from France.
Photo: Douglas Hill Photography

Constructed using the finest materials and world-renowned designers, artisans and European workers, the Cravens Estate featured 20,000 square feet of living space on a 1.5-acre lot. At a reported cost of $1.25 million, it became instantly famous as the most expensive home ever built in Pasadena. 

In 1971, Cravens Estate was one of the first to be designated as a Cultural Heritage Landmark by the City of Pasadena. It was cited as “one of the few remaining mansions representative of homes in an era when Pasadena acquired its international reputation as the finest and wealthiest residential community in this country.”

John S. Cravens was the first elected president of the Edison Electric Co., one of the predecessors of Southern California Edison Co. He and his wife, Mildred (the daughter of George S. Myers, a cofounder of the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company), were active philanthropists in Pasadena.

Built in the late 1920s, the Cravens Estate was constructed of steel reinforced concrete, brick veneer, imported European finishes and a Vermont slate roof. The architect, Lewis P. Hobart, studied architecture in Rome and Paris, and was known for his knowledge of steel-frame construction. Photo: Douglas Hill Photography

Built in the late 1920s, the Cravens Estate was constructed of steel reinforced concrete, brick veneer, imported European finishes and a Vermont slate roof. The architect, Lewis P. Hobart, studied architecture in Rome and Paris, and was known for his knowledge of steel-frame construction. Photo: Douglas Hill Photography

After they passed away in the late 1940s (without children), the estate passed through several owners until it was donated by Simon G. Zervos, an industrialist and bakery owner, to the American Red Cross in 1962.

The Red Cross, supported by donors, volunteers and the local community, was able to furnish, maintain and occupy the Cravens Estate until deciding this year to sell the property. The organization, which has hosted many events and community gatherings at the mansion, is marketing to potential buyers who appreciate the historic nature and architectural significance of the estate.

Realtor Josie Tong has lived in Pacific Palisades since 2004, and started at Sotheby’s in 2005. She says her Red Cross involvement began more than 35 years ago.

“When I was growing up in Taiwan, the Red Cross was always there whenever there was a disaster in the region. So, when I got my first paycheck while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I earmarked my United Way contribution for the Red Cross.”

After moving to L.A., Tong became active with the Santa Monica Red Cross Chapter, co-chairing its annual fundraising gala four times and serving on the board since 2011. She’s also a member of the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, a group of women leaders committed to the missions of the Red Cross.

Contact josie.tong@sothebyshomes.com or (310) 808-8808 for more information.

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