Our Laguna: Now's your chance to capture the castle

November 25, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • The Pyne Castle in north Laguna.
The Pyne Castle in north Laguna. (Coastline Pilot )

Pyne Castle in North Laguna, once considered for President Richard Nixon's Western White House, is on the market for the first time in four decades.

Built by millionaire — in the days when that meant real money — Walter E. Pyne, and originally called Broadview Villa, Pyne Castle is considered the foremost example of Norman-style architecture in Laguna. Construction began in 1927 after oil was discovered on land owned by Pyne in Olive.

While the exterior of the building has remained relatively unchanged, the interior was cut up into 12 rentals in the 1960s that ranged from studios to the three-bedroom, three-bath penthouse, and four non-conforming units. It has been rumored that the castle actually had been divided in half by Pyne to separate his quarters from his mother's.

The castle was rezoned from R-1, single family, to R-3 in December of 2009 when the City Council approved changes to the city's land use element, amending the city's Local Coastal Program, which requires certification by the California Coastal Commission.


"The commission has requested a year's extension [to hear] the application," said city Principal Planner Carolyn Martin.

Under the R-3 designation, potential uses for Pyne Castle include converting it to a bed and breakfast.

"That's what I would do," said Gregg Abel, an architectural designer and contractor, who has scoped the building for potential buyers.

Converting it to a bed and breakfast would require a conditional use permit and additional parking, Martin said.

Space for parking is not a problem, Abel said. The property is on more than 3 ½ acres.

And if Pyne Castle were to be put on the city's Historical Register, parking requirements could be reduced.

"It is E- [for excellent] rated on the inventory." Martin said. "But it is not on the register."

Any changes to the exterior should be done with sensitivity to the original, Abel said.

"The building is old, but it is in good condition," he said.

Abel thinks the building's gray exterior could use a bit of color.

However, Norman revival architecture, which shares some of the elements in Tudor and Provincial styles, is identifiable by use of gray stucco siding, narrow windows and clipped gables and less use of half-timbering, according to Karen Wright Turnbull, author of "The Cottages and Castles of Laguna Beach."

Alterations to the exterior would be reviewed by the city's Heritage Committee.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles