LAGUNA BEACH, CA - As much a work of art as it is a home, The Ark is a fantastical piece of architecture that’s been swathed in mystery since its creation in 1923. Designed by famous French architect Jean L. Egasse, the home is one of many famous Arts and Crafts estates he created across Southern California, including a storybook-style house in Eagle Rock where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were inspired to write their masterpiece Good Will Hunting.
Every inch of the 2,400 square foot residence has been handcrafted with simple but thoughtful designs to create a personal connection to the home. Featuring ship portholes, carefully knotted ropework handrails, rough-hewn timber beams, and even a “Crow's Nest” detached guest suite, the home transcends the ordinary.
Located at 2191 Ocean Way, no one quite knows how The Ark got its iconic nickname or what mysteries lie in its past, but one thing is certain - it plays an integral role in the history of Laguna Beach. The Ark is listed by top real estate agents Markus and Heidi Brown who are known for representing unique and historical homes across Southern California. We sat down with Markus to learn more about this idyllic masterpiece.
What do you think is the most striking feature of The Ark?
Markus: This home is what I would call architecture as art, because the entire property is like walking through a live installation. My favorite detail is the recessed fireplace, tucked beneath the stylized ribs of an inverted ship’s hull.
In true Arts and Crafts design, there is no cladding to hide the joints, they are a part of the art itself. It’s all about exposing the beauty of the construction, not covering it up.
How has the home become a part of Laguna Beach’s local history?
M: While history has never determined why the home was commissioned in this style, it’s clear that the home is well beloved by the community. Local artists are often inspired by The Ark, come to paint the house, and commercially sell their works of art. So, the home itself is a part of the local art scene in more ways than one.
In fact, artists and locals will even write letters to the house – not the owners, but the property itself. Addressed “Dear Ark”, people will share their love for the home, and how they enjoy walking past and dreaming about its whimsical design.
As an arbiter of historic homes, how do you find the perfect new owner for such a unique property?
M: The key to finding the right buyer is sharing the story of the home and bringing its magic to life. We spent an entire day from sun up to sun down capturing images of the different lighting, angles, and beauty of every corner. People who are satisfied living in tract housing won’t be the right buyers for The Ark. But those who thrive on emotional connection, and understand the sense of stewardship involved with owning a piece of history will be drawn to it.
When homes are historic, the owners become the caretakers, inheriting the role from the previous homeowner. Money will be exchanged of course, but the perfect owner is someone who doesn’t see it as a possession, but rather a piece of history they have the privilege of preserving and honoring during the term of their ownership. Buyers will be able to take advantage of significant tax savings through the Mills Act property tax reduction program, saving as much as $100, 000 per year as the new owners.
What other historical elements of the property set The Ark apart?
M: There are simply too many to count! But one fun element is a series of stained-glass windows, created by one of Disney’s first female graphic designers, a family member of a previous legacy owner.
They’re all tucked away throughout the home and depict different scenes related to the Noah’s Ark story. There are so many details – aside from the jaw dropping ocean views – that it’s impossible to capture them all in one home listing. This property has to be experienced to be truly understood.
For more information on this extraordinary home and others in the Southern California area