Once upon a time, the newspaper business could make you a very rich man.
The story of the tri-level Queen Anne Victorian estate at 406 Maple Street in Bankers Hill already includes a host of interesting chapters. With its latest offering for sale, the home is poised to embark on yet another.
Designated as San Diego Historic Landmark No. 52, the 6015-square-foot mansion was originally built in 1887 for Eugene and Harriet Britt. Mr. Britt was a prominent local attorney and judge, and the home’s construction cost of $3000 reportedly made it the most expensive residence in the city at the time.
But the Britts stayed in the home for only two years, and eventually, it was purchased by newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps, who lived there until the completion of his rural estate in what would later come to be known as Scripps Ranch. Scripps is notable not only for partnering with his half-sister Ellen to form the institute of oceanography that bears their name; but also for forming the precursor of what would become United Press International — at one point, one of the largest news syndicators in the world. But while he owned several Southern California papers, Scripps never broke into the local news market, which was dominated at the time by real estate baron John Spreckels.
Put some color in your climb with two stories’ worth of stained glass along the staircase.
According to listing materials retrieved from Realtor.com, the Britt-Scripps House recently “underwent a thorough renovation with impressive updates” while retaining its period-specific styling. “The exquisite residence is fully gated for maximum security. Lush foliage & mature hedges line the property’s perimeter for additional privacy,” the listing continues. “Serene yards, patios, lawn space & an extraordinary tree are also situated amongst the grounds.”
“The main residence offers 6015 square feet of living space spread amongst 3 stories complete with 2 stairwells,” including “nine spacious en-suite bedrooms, multiple decks & balconies, an elegant dining room, social parlor, catering kitchen w/ commercial grade appliances, secret library & more.”
Highlights include a grand entry staircase flanked by two stories of intricate stained glass windows, antique gaslamp-style fixtures upgraded to work with electric bulbs, original coffered and coved ceilings with wood inlay, freestanding claw-foot tubs, and a turret that’s been converted to a powder room with exposed beam walls and ceiling. All of the doors, windows, paneling, and wood casings are reported to be original.
Additional living area comes from a one-bedroom carriage house and converted garage with powder room, offering “plenty of space for staff, security, and guests” on the oversized lot, which occupies more than a third-acre just two blocks west of Balboa Park.
Beginning in the 1970s, the mansion was converted — first into a bed-and-breakfast, then into a professional building hosting law and medical offices.
When the estate was last sold for a reported $3.85 million in 2017, the San Francisco-based owners completed a restoration and began offering the property up as a venue for weddings and private parties. A historic designation through the Mills Act keeps property taxes just under $10,000 per year, less than one-fifth the rate at which the property would be assessed based on its reported sale price.
The Britt-Scripps house was most recently listed for sale in mid-May, with a $5.5 million price tag that remains unchanged to date.
- 406 Maple Street | San Diego, 92103
- Beds: 10 | Baths: 11 | Current Owner: Limelight Investments LLC | List Price: $5,500,000