Claremont Living 2017: Home tour proves three’s a charm

Three examples of Claremont’s unique residential character were on display for the annual Children’s Fund Home Tour.

The tour, which took place on April 22 and 23, gave people an opportunity to tour the homes while also donating to charity. All of the proceeds from the ticket sales go to the West End chapter of the Children’s Fund, which includes Claremont, according to Children’s Fund Claremont Chapter President Dr. Wanda Pyle.

The Children’s Fund, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, was established to serve and provide aid to children in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties who are abused, neglected and impoverished, according to Ms. Pyle. The home tour has been around for over a decade, and routinely brings in donations in the tens of thousands.

This year, the tour started off with a fundraising gala at the DoubleTree Hotel on Friday, April 21. Ms. Pyle noted that the gala alone raised around $6,000 for the fund.

In addition to the home tour tickets, which ran about $35 a pop, artwork by local artists was dutifully placed around the homes for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the fund.


Ms. Pyle was quick to point out that each home had no restaging just for the tour—the homes were presented to the patron in exactly the same states as they are for the owners.

“These are the homes they live in,” she said.

The first house on the tour is a massive gray mansion located on Grand Avenue. The home belongs to Bill and Judi Manis, who built the home in 1998 after buying the plot of land two years earlier.

Bill, the city manager for Rosemead, and Judi, a vice president for AT&T, transformed their dream home into a Tuscan-inspired oasis peppered with family heirlooms.

One of the first amenities one sees when entering the home—besides the grand staircase—is a massive grandfather clock, which has been in Judi’s family since it was shipped from England in 1878. Atop the towering timepiece is an artful depiction of the lunar cycle.

Another family heirloom on display is a dining room table belonging to Judi’s father. The four-bedroom, six-bathroom home also includes an impressive home theater, complete with comfortable couches and a massive flat-screen television. The room was once used as a playroom for the kids, Bill explained, but once they grew up and moved out of the house the couple reclaimed the room for themselves.

The theater is adorned with original prints of posters for the Mexican Players of the Padua Hills Theater, an important and enthralling piece of early Claremont history. Bill Manis explained that the son of Frank Vecchio, the artist, gifted the posters to him after the elder Mr. Vecchio passed away.


Nearly every room in the house evokes images of the Italian countryside. From the halls to the master bathroom, visitors feel like they are in a Tuscan villa.

“We tried to stay, as much as possible, true to that theme,” Judi said.

The second home on the tour is a brand-new addition to the neighborhood—a smartly designed contemporary home on 731 Hood Drive. The 3,060-square-foot home, which has four bedrooms and three-and-half bathrooms, was designed by local Claremont architects Wheeler & Wheeler.

According to Children’s Fund docent Linda Rice, the home sits on what was originally a vacant lot for the children of the next-door neighbors to play in. Now, a grand, modern home with craftsman and country-inspired designs takes its place.

The house also presented patrons with an exclusive sneak-peek—the residence would not be officially listed for sale until the following Monday.

“It’s such an advantage for us,” said Ms. Rice. “Everyone in Claremont wanted to see this house.”

The house has officially been listed for $1.85 million.

Since the house doesn’t have an owner as of yet, it was turned into a makeshift art gallery with portraits and sculptures from local artists such as Jenny Simpson and Christy Johnson displayed everywhere, from the bedrooms to the garage.

The house features a beautiful kitchen with a restaurant-grade stove and refrigerator, two modern bathrooms with sleek stainless steel showerheads and, of course, a fireplace on the balcony of the upstairs master suite.

All of these modern amenities are coated in cool hues of sea foam green and eggshell white, colors that elicit a calming effect softening the industrial design.


The third and final home on the tour is nestled deep within Webb Canyon, and required a shuttle service to get to it. The home may not look particularly dramatic on the outside, but inside it showcases the homeowners’ deep passions for travel and culture.

The home, belonging to Bill and Carol Christiansen, is full of remnants of the couple’s travels around the world. Bill’s photographs of the people and places they’ve encountered, from women in Africa to Dracula’s castle in the mountains of Transylvania, are stationed throughout the home.

The house is a study of modern and ancient contrasts, none more so than the new flat-screen television sitting atop an ornate Tibetan altar. The blood-red, gold and black hues make the piece an eye-catching addition.

But the pièce de résistance of the home is the sweeping view of Webb Canyon from the home’s back porch. The house sits along the edge of a terraced cliff that, like the situation of Manis home, is reminiscent of rural Italy. The terrace is peppered with different fruit trees and art pieces.

The home’s rural location also allows the Christiansens to come into contact with Claremont’s wilder natives. In one instance, a brown bear ambled its way onto the property in search of food. Instead of running for help or calling animal control, Bill Christiansen did what any photographer would do—he snapped some pictures.

Those pictures of the animal making itself at home on the Christiansens’ back patio are on display in the couple’s bedroom.

The majesty of the homes aside, the event was for a great cause. Ms. Pyle estimates the tour sold around 200 tickets this year, but the final numbers aren’t in as of press time.

If past events are any indication, the tour could provide around $12,000 for the Children’s Fund, all in the name of helping the region’s most vulnerable populations.

—Matthew Bramlett


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