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Pasadena’s hand-crafted ‘Casa de Pajaros’ lists for $1.33M

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The Southwestern-style stone residence was constructed by a local craftsman

The Herman Koller Residence, 1736 Old Grove Road, Pasadena
Images by Cameron Carothers, courtesy of Crosby Doe Associates

Now here’s a house that’s about as far from “cookie-cutter” as it gets. Dubbed “Casa de Pajaros,” the Southwestern-style residence in Pasadena’s bucolic Kinneloa Mesa was painstakingly built by local craftsman Herman Koller over a period of 17 years, from 1928 to 1945.

According to an article about the property published in the 1960s, Koller, a house painter by profession, worked on the home in his off hours using materials salvaged from demolition sites and various other sources.

Beams from an old Pasadena flour mill, bricks from earthquake-damaged Mission Santa Barbara, stones from Bouquet Canyon, Palos Verdes, Pacoima, and LA’s original City Hall, carloads of rocks rescued from closed-down mini-golf courses, and hand-painted tile from Spain are but a sampling of the numerous recycled elements employed in the construction.

The resourceful Koller found both inspiration and information for the design of his passion project at the Southwest Museum and in buildings he had seen on travels through Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The one-of-a-kind property contains two separate structures: a two-bedroom, 1.5-bath main house plus a one-bedroom, one-bath guest cottage. Features include hardwood and tile floors, beamed ceilings, leaded glass, arched doorways and windows, a stone fireplace, and a belfry with iron bell.

Koller’s vision also extended to the .33-acre grounds, which boast an impressive assortment of cacti, succulents, and wild flowers along with mature oak and eucalyptus trees.

Located at 1736 Old Grove Road in the enclave of Pasadena Glen, the property is now on the market with an asking price of $1.333 million. Crosby Doe and John Jacob Matthes of Crosby Doe Associates hold the listing.

Koller learned building techniques from books and from observing masons and bricklayers at work.
The belfry’s bricks came from Mission Santa Barbara, its bell from a farm in the Midwest.
Archways abound.
The verdant grounds contain a wide variety of mature trees, cacti, plants, and wild flowers.