A whimsical Pasadena cottage that looks like it could have been plucked from the pages of a fairy tale is on the market for the first time in a half-century.
Listed at $2 million, the two-bedroom, 912-square-foot residence with a 400-square-foot cellar is known as “The Old Mill.”
The house is the last-standing building from the time of the original Busch Gardens, the early 20th-century pleasure park created by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch and his wife, Lily. It opened to the public in 1906 as a popular tourist attraction, reaching a peak attendance of 1.5 million people in 1915.
After it closed to the public in 1937, filmmakers continued to use the nearly 40-acre grounds. Scenes for such classics as “Citizen Kane” (1941), “Gone With the Wind” (1939) and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) were shot there.
The Busch family offered the gardens to the city of Pasadena for use as a public park but was refused because of the high maintenance costs. In the end, the park was sold and subdivided for housing.
But “The Old Mill” remained.
Modeled after the Banbury Cross Mill in England, Busch built “The Old Mill” in 1910 as a sort of English folly in the garden where the beer magnate and his friends could go and smoke cigars. It was one room at the time and later converted into a living space with an additional entry room, a downstairs bathroom, a loft at the end of the living room, and the kitchen.
Another owner added the primary bedroom and bathroom.
A 400-square-foot-plus cellar completes the interior.
The house hasn’t lost any of its charms. It nestles in a shady, third-acre-plus lot surrounded by towering oaks and accessed by a long pathway to the terrace. Visitors to the property on different tours over the years have readily described it as “magical.”
So said longtime owner Jacqueline Coulette, a retired high school principal in the Alhambra Unified School District. She and her late husband, Cal State Los Angeles professor and poet Henri Coulette, bought the house in 1973.
“When we first moved in, I called a tree company to come and trim them, and (the man on the phone) said, ‘How many trees do you have?’ “Um,” she paused for effect. “May I call you back? So, I went out and started counting.”
The property attracts wildlife and nature fills the frames of the windows throughout the well-maintained home’s interior, which boasts high ceilings and stained glass windows.
While Coulette never sought to have the home declared a landmark, she believes “it could very easily be on the National Register of Historic Places.” But that’s for the next owner to pursue.
Renee Rosen of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Realty holds the listing.
“The Old Mill” is featured on old postcards and in the 2020 book “The Original Busch Gardens” by Gary Cowles and Michael Logan.