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Brad Pitt Drops $40 Million on a Historic, Century-Old Castle in Northern California

The historic D.L. James House was built by Arts and Crafts architect Charles Sumner Greene.

bradd pitt dl james house Greene & Greene Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

Well known for his love and knowledge of design and architecture, Brad Pitt has added a fascinating historical estate to his property portfolio. 

Located in Carmel Highlands, California, the actor recently closed on what agents are calling one of the most expensive sales ever in the area, reported the Wall Street Journal. Pitt purchased a Monterey County estate known as the D.L. James House, after its first owner, which was originally built by architect Charles Sumner Greene around 1918. Sited on a rocky cliff, the off-market property was previously occupied for over two decades by late Chicago financier Joe Ritchie who died in February. 

brad pitt dl james house

The D.L. James House built by architect Charles Greene  Greene & Greene Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

Greene, who was an influential figure in the 20th century Arts & Crafts movement, met businessman and writer D.L. James when he moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1916, according to The Gamble House organization. Shortly after, James commissioned the architect to construct a home on a bluff that he’d bought. It took approximately four years, in which James defied elevation logic by insisting the home be built on a steep, challenging plot.  

He also opted for locally sourced sandstone and granite instead of wood—because of this, the D.L. James House, later referred to as Seaward, appears as if it’s growing right out of the cliff. The elaborate stonework of the outer walls resembles a medieval castle, while arched windows and an earth-toned-tile roof give it a distinct Mediterranean flair.  

dl james house

Archive photos of the dining area and living room in The D.L. James House  Maynard L. Parker, photographer, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

The historic home is formatted as a single-level residence, but specific details about its layout are scarce. What we do know is that the interior features carved marble and details of Green’s signature woodwork, speaking to his Arts and Crafts style, and the living areas are open-plan. There’s also an outdoor courtyard.  

dl james house

The interior of The D.L. James House in Carmel, California  Maynard L. Parker, photographer, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

After James died in 1944, his son, who was also a writer, acquired the property. He lived there with his wife until he eventually passed away in 1988. His widow sold the house in 1999 to Ritchie, who purchased the house for $4.5 million, reported Dirt.  

Ever the opportunist, Ritchie made headlines a few years later in 2001 when he tried to build an underground tunnel to access the rocky beach down below. The idea was supposed to replace a staircase that used to be located on the property but had been washed away by the tide. The County Planning Commission greenlit the decision, but the Coastal Commission put the kibosh on the plans somewhere along the way. Whether or not the Ritchie’s were able to proceed with building a secret tunnel is something we suppose only Pitt will know.

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