Even though Your Mama spent two days and way too much time discussing and poring over the residential property holdings of multi-billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, it seems that we managed to miss at least three very significant pieces of his vast real estate puzzle.
The previously discussed Beverly Hills estate and the gleaming new beach house on Carbon Beach in Malibu are not, as it turns out the only residential real estate holdings in southern California that take up space in Mister Allen’s porcine property portfolio.
In 1997 Mister Allen dumped $20,000,000 on The Enchanted Hill, a near mythic estate perched along a ridge at the tippy-top of Angelo Drive above Benedict Canyon. Much to the chagrin and anger of just about everyone, Mister Allen razed the legendary Wallace Neff designed house (above) that was built in the early 1920s for prolific screenwriter actress Frances Marion and her silent screen star husband Fred Thomson.
The original estate contained about 24 acres and included a sprawling Spanish Colonial style main house, horse stables with mahogany floors, a riding ring or two, tennis court, swimming pool, and acres of formal gardens. Miz Marion and Mister Thomson dubbed the estate The Enchanted Hill, a name that became a bit of an inside joke between two-time Oscar winner Miz Marion and her media mogul boss William Randolph Heart who named his colossal castle confection in San Simeon, CA the same name only in español: La Cuesta Encantada.
In 1929, not long after Mister Thomson stepped on a rusty nail and died of the tetanus, the estate as sold for $540,000 to Texas oil and mining magnate Lejeune Barnes. Paul Kollsman, who made a fortune from his invention of altimeters, barometers and other instruments and doo-dads used in flying airplanes, purchased the property 1945. Over the years that Mister Kollsman and his wife Baroness Julie Dorothea Baronin von Bodenhausen owned the property it ballooned to about 120 acres.
Mister Kollman went to meet the great inventor in the sky in 1982 and his widow, that would be Baroness Julie Dorothea Baronin von Bodenhausen, sold the property in 1997 to our man Paul Allen. Your Mama read somewhere–we no longer recall where–that Mister Allen spent some effort and money revitalizing the residence. Whatever the case, by 2000 the somewhat eccentric Mister Allen decided to tear the Wallace Neff beehawtcha down to make way for, according to one of Your Mama’s better connected sources, a steroidal 50,000 square foot mansion.
Not surprisingly, Mister Allen’s decision to bull doze all that was beloved up on The Enchanted Hill worked the nerves and the fired up the wrath of architectural buffs and historians. Yes puppies, it was and is his property to do with as he pleases. None the less, in Your Mama’s humble and utterly meaningless opinion it was a crying damn shame for Mister Allen to tear down the rambling, multi-winged mansion that defined a particular sort of California architectural dream.
Making matters worse is that Mister Allen–perhaps as a result of his architectural vilification or perhaps due to a case of The Real Estate Fickle–has done little but clear the property, improve the road that winds through the hilltops and canyons and connects Angelo Drive to Benedict Canyon Drive, terrace a few hillsides, and clear what appear to be a number of potential home sites.
We are, it could probably go without saying, thrilled that Mister Allen has not proceeded to build a hotel-sized house but it’s devastating to think he got rid of something so extraordinary for what, 10 years later, seems like no reason at all. That said, better that he razed The Enchanted Hill and did nothing with the property than developed it into a gated enclave of monster mansions that would probably appear as ornate pimples on an otherwise unspoiled terrain.
There are many online references that make it no secret that in 1993 Mister Allen bought a former sheep ranching operation outside of Tetonia, ID known as Teton Ridge Ranch. The 4,000+ acre spread located on the rugged western flank of the Grand Teton National Park near Yellowstone and Jackson Hole is, as far as Your Mama is concerned, pretty much the middle of freaking nowhere near the border of Idaho and Wyoming.
For many years after Mister Allen purchased Teton Ridge Ranch, it was operated as an exclusive resort style property with 10,000 square foot luxury lodge and just five suites each kitted out with wood burning stove, spa, and private porch. Guest could choose from indoor activities such as eating, drinking, reading and playing pool on an antique billiard table or they could head out of doors where options included hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking trails as well as fishing and skiing. As of March of 2009, according to the answering machine that picks up the phone at the ranch, Teton Ridge Ranch is no longer open to the public. Presumably Mister Allen wants free and unfettered access to the ranch without those pesky vacationers hanging about.
The property records for Teton Ridge Ranch in Idaho lead Your Mama’s wandering eye to the Big Island of Hawai’i where records and online sources reveal that Mister Allen owns an historic Hawaiian hideaway behind the gates of an exclusive oceanfront community in Kailua–Kona, HI. Although they have been somewhat scrubbed clean, public property records indicate that Mister Allen shelled out $7,500,000 to scoop up what is (or was) known as the Thurston Estate in Kailua–Kona, HI.
Whatever he may have paid for the place and when might not be entirely clear, what does not seem to be in question, according to a June 30, 2009 hearing transcript of the Leeward Planning Commission in the County of Hawai’i, is that Mister Allen owns and occupies the 10+ acre former Thurston Estate.
Thanks to materials sent to Your Mama by the ever intrepid and resourceful Lil’ Gay BOy, we’ve learned that the Thurston Estate was formerly owned by Lorrin P. Thurston, former owner and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser and the one-time Chairman of the Hawai’i Statehood Commission. Mr. Thurston, a direct descendant of missionaries Asa and Lucy Thurston who arrived on the shores of Hawai’i in 1820 to inform all the natives they were a sinful lot and going straight to hell without a handbasket if they didn’t quickly repent and convert to Christianity, purchased the property in the 1930s and spent the next 50 years building and landscaping the magnificent property.
At the time Mister Thurston owned the property it was called Lanihau-iki which translates, according to an old Kona Properties brochure, as “The place where the forces of heavens and and of the earth meet and all is quiet and peaceful.” Your Mama, who does not have a tongue for the languages marvels at how such a extensive description comes out of one hyphenated and not very word. Sometimes these rich folks like to put their own stamp and name on their properties and Your Mama does not know if Mister Allen has maintained the Lanihau-iki moniker.
Prior to the property being purchased by Mister Allen there was, in addition to the long and low 12,000 square foot main house, an employee residence, garage space, a beach house, a boat shed and boat launch that dropped watercraft into the amoebic private boat harbor. A short bridge connects the grounds to a small island that sits in the wee harbor. At the ocean’s edge are a couple of tiny private beaches, dramatic lava outcroppings, and several tide pools. Lo-werd hunnies, this island wonderland makes that place in Kailua-Kona that Cher built and sold at auction in late 2009 look like a damn dump.
In addition to cataloging–or attempting to catalog–the full extent of Mister Allen’s residential property portfolio we also discussed some of his toys such as his airplanes and his yachts, the jaw dropping 414-foot Octopus and the 301-foot Tatoosh which Mister Allen currently has up for sale with a price tag of about $163,000,000. As it turns out Mister Allen owns–or owned until recently–a third yacht, a 199-foot long sea-mansion called Méduse, equipped with a helicopter, movie theater, and a recording studio. There are reports from 2005 that indicate that Mister Allen wanted to sell the boat for $52,500,0000, but it’s unclear if the big boat was indeed sold or remains in Mister Allen’s armada of floating mega-mansions.