Sunday, November 28, 2010
A stately Queen Anne home on Santa Catalina Island known as Holly Hill House has a 120-year history as colorful as its signature cupola.
In addition to the towering red-and-green-striped dome, the three-story home is distinguished by steep gables, quirky interior spaces, antique furnishings that are included in the purchase and multiple porches. It was built by Peter Gano, a transplanted Ohioan and civil engineer who had helped develop the water systems for Pasadena and Altadena. He became smitten with Catalina during leisure outings, purchased a choice lot for $500 in the late 1880s and employed a former circus horse named Mercury to power a pulley system that moved building materials up the hillside, according to an account written by Sherri Kreis, whose family has owned Holly Hill House for the last four decades.
Gano, who was engaged to be married, built what he called Look Out Cottage in less than 18 months. But his fiancee balked at moving to the island. Forced to choose between her and the house, he opted for the house. Locals say that Gano lived in the red-roofed storybook home until the early 1920s. He refused to associate with women after his ill-fated romance and went so far as to post "No Women Allowed" signs around the property.
Although it has been enlarged a bit and the cupola burned in a 1964 fire, the home has been carefully restored and appears today much as it did when Gano finished construction in 1890.