House Crush: Historic Kuns House of La Verne, CA

by Leona Jaeger

This wonderful house has both historic significance in its community and best of all has been renovated without losing its original character! Take a look!

You know when you ask a child their favorite ice cream flavor and she or he lists about eight of them? Well, that’s how I am about old houses—it’s just so difficult to pick a “most favorite.” That being said, my *very* most favorite style of old house architecture is Arts & Crafts, also known as “Craftsman.” Perhaps it’s because I live in an area that is blessed with an abundance of these beauties, from cozy bungalows to “ultimate” versions like the Gamble House, designed by Greene & Greene. (If you’re not familiar, Google it—your heart just might skip a beat.) Just a few minutes from my neighborhood is a gorgeous historical district called “Bungalow Heaven”; and it should be no surprise that it has about 83 of my “most favorite” houses in the city! If you want to learn a bit more about the Arts and Crafts style, jump on over to this CIRCA article by by Hänsel Hernández-Navarro. The article gives a nice overview of the style and it’s history.
The Kuns house was built in 1911 by Henry L. Kuns. An early resident of Lordsburg (now called LaVerne), Henry Kuns was a successful businessman and rancher who was very involved in the community: a mayor, entrepreneur, humanitarian, activist and a co-founder of Lordsburg Academy, which is now the University of LaVerne. He passed away in 1930 and the home has been passed through several families since, finally falling into the hands of an avid antique collector who used the home as storage for his ever-growing collection. After the antique collector passed away the University of LaVerne saw an opportunity to reacquire the home, and bought it in 2012. By this time however, the house had grown into quite a state of disrepair. After careful and extensive review, the university had decided that funds for the renovation were not going to be available to the extent of the work needed. The Kuns house was then bought by Spectra Company, a construction firm specializing in historic renovation and rehabilitation.
The house has been more than renovated—it’s been resurrected! The woodwork is beautiful: from the hardwood floors to the coffered living room ceiling, coved ceilings in the remaining downstairs rooms, two gorgeous fireplaces (the living room fireplace mantel is walnut–another favorite!), marble and granite in the expansive kitchen and period-style bathrooms (complete with clawfoot tub in one), the majesty of the home has been completely restored. Other features I love are the pasture-sized rooms, wide hallways and a wine cellar that secured by the door of a vault that used to belong elsewhere in the home. Clever repurposing, if you ask me!
The landscaping surrounding the home is a lovely balance of flagstone walkways, a private patio, redwood decking and sophisticated water-wise xeriscaping. Masterful vision, historical appreciation, and meticulous crafting has given this home to revitalization it needed, and with one’s own added touches, gives the next homeowners a bit of what makes a lovely Craftsman one of this writer’s “favorites!”.
From the sturdy practicality of a colonial saltbox, to the lavish details of a High Victorian, Leona believes that each old home holds a beauty, solid craftsmanship, and history that is a mystery and wonder to be explored and appreciated. Leona’s dream is to find a huge farmhouse with high ceilings, wide-planked floors (complete with hidden artifacts under a loose plank), a wraparound porch, and enough acreage to house a horse or two, some dogs, cats, goats, and a ring-tailed lemur. In her spare time she can be found with her face pressed and distorted against the car window, ogling the fantastic old homes in the surrounding areas of Pasadena, California where she lives with her loving husband (who patiently peels her face off the windows and tells her to breathe) and her vivacious 9-year-old daughter.

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