A mill worker’s son born in Lancashire, England in 1861, John Parkinson left school at 13 and went to work in a hardware store, sweeping floors. At 21, he boarded a cattle ship sailing across the Atlantic, landing in Winnipeg, Canada with “little more than five dollars and a tool box,” as author Stephen Gee recounted in his 2013 biography, Iconic Vision: John Parkinson, Architect of Los Angeles.
Remarkably, despite such humble beginnings, just a decade later, Parkinson was well on his way to becoming one of Los Angeles’s most significant and influential architects, with a slew of iconic city landmarks, including City Hall, the Bullocks-Wilshire building, and Union Station, contributing to his legacy.
In addition to producing a prodigious number of large-scale civic and commercial projects during his years in Los Angeles, the self-taught architect also designed and built three homes for himself and his family. While the first two were located in Westlake and Downtown, not far from his firm’s offices, Parkinson’s third and final residence was built near the ocean in an undeveloped tract then known as the Sawtelle Annex, now considered part of Santa Monica.
Parkinson completed the home, a two-story Spanish Colonial with Italian Renaissance influences, in 1921, and resided there until his demise in 1935. His widow would hold on to the house for another three decades, then, following her death in 1966, it was purchased by attorney Howard Alphson and his wife, Druscilla, a real estate agent. Over half a century later, the pedigreed property has just become available for only the second time ever.
Sited behind wrought-iron gates on a 1.23-acre lot just south of the Riviera Country Club, the Parkinson residence has five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms in its approximately 4,700 square feet of living space. Among its standout features are a graceful loggia with ornate spiral fluted terra cotta columns and Corinthian capitals, intricate moldings and reliefs, stained and leaded glass windows, a wood-coffered living room ceiling, hardwood and tile floors, and multiple fireplaces.
The verdant grounds also contain a two-story guest house, added in 1970, a regulation-size lighted tennis court, a heated swimming pool, a sunken garden, and mature pine, eucalyptus, myrtle, cypress, and sycamore trees.
According to a 2019 landmark assessment report commissioned by the city of Santa Monica’s planning division, the property is eligible for inclusion on national, state, and local historic registers. It’s listed with Mary Beth Woods of Coldwell Banker at an asking price of $20 million.