Kelsey home sells for Hermosa Beach record of $15 million
by Kevin Cody
Don Guild was leaving the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles one day in 1958 when he ran into Bill Still, a former Berkeley classmate of Don’s wife Barbara.
The two were sometime neighbors in Hermosa Beach. The Guilds owned Guild Drug in downtown Hermosa and lived at 1920 The Strand. Still had married into the Lacey family, which owned a home at 1942 The Strand, two doors north of the Guilds’. Still told Guild that the Lacey family’s majestic, pitched-roof home was to be sold at auction.
He asked Guild if he or anyone he knew would be interested in purchasing the house.
The Lacey home was built in 1913 by two brothers who owned Lacey Manufacturing. The brothers were given the property in payment for putting in the sewer and water pipes for the Hermosa Land and Water Company when the city streets were laid out. Subsequent generations of the large Lacey family kept the six-bedroom house as a summer vacation home.
The Guilds mentioned the Lacey home to their friends Vern and Virginia Kelsey, whose three children were the same ages as the Guild’s children.
Though the Kelseys had only recently built a home around the corner, at Hermosa Avenue and 20th Street, the opportunity to live on The Strand tempted them into attending the auction. Vern surfed and coached water polo at Harbor Community College.
Despite the couple’s modest income, Virginia Kelsey’s bid of $58,000 for the old house astride a double, corner lot was accepted. It was the only bid.
“It was a bankruptcy auction and most of the bidders were only interested in the manufacturing equipment,” Barbara Guild recalled.
Over the ensuing decades, the big, rambling Kelsey home, one of the few Strand homes with a yard big enough for a party, became a neighborhood gathering place.
Hap Jacob’s and Bing Copeland’s logos were spray painted inside the garage.
The yard also provided parking for the Kelsey’s and the Guild’s guests.
“In appreciation for telling them about the house, Vern and Virginia gave us lifetime parking privileges,” Barbara Guild said.
But even lifetime privileges come to an end.
Vern Kelsey passed away a few years ago. Virginia is 94 and living in an assisted living facility.
Last month the Kelsey children sold the family home for $15 million, the most ever paid for a home in Hermosa Beach.
One of the two lots that make up the 80-foot by 83-foot property is to become a vacation home for a Pacific Palisades resident. The other lot is being developed by local builder Dennis Maloney.
Realtor Leo Nordine, who listed the house and is also a longtime neighbor of the Kelseys and a surfer, said he’s happy for the Kelsey family, though disappointed that the old home will be torn down. ER