EASTVALE: Desi Arnaz house sold for $2.5 million
EASTVALE: Desi Arnaz house sold for .5 million
A house in Eastvale designed and owned by entertainer Desi Arnaz – a.k.a. Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” – has been purchased by the Jurupa Community Services District, which is now trying to decide what the structure’s newest incarnation will be.
The Jurupa district provides water, sewers and graffiti abatement to Eastvale and its Parks and Recreation Department develops and maintains the city’s parks and oversees its recreation programs.
Richard “Ric” Welch, the district’s parks and community affairs director said the agency paid $ 2.5 million for the 3,500-square-foot house and an estimated 14 acres of land, including a multipurpose trail at the southern end of the property that will connect Eastvale to the Coast to Crest Santa Ana River Trail.
The agency is now working with a consultant, Irvine-based Project Dimensions Inc., which has experience with public projects, remodeling historic homes and construction management, to come up with possible uses for the Spanish-style hacienda.
The house was once the centerpiece of Arnaz’s Corona thoroughbred ranch where he lived after his marriage to Lucille Ball ended in 1960.
Welch said the district has held several meetings with residents of the Lennar Corp.’s new Estancia community which wraps around the Arnaz house on the west, north and east sides.
Lennar is building three neighborhoods including one called The Desi Collection which, according to the company’s web site, has already sold out.
Sherise Libertone and her husband Pat Libertone, who has since passed away, purchased one of the homes in the coveted Desi Collection.
The home incorporates many of the design elements in the original Arnaz house including the use of wrought iron, transom windows and floor to ceiling windows facing out onto the yard.
Libertone said she did not even know she would be living across the street from the Arnaz house until after she purchased her home.
Libertone has toured the Arnaz ranch and has attended the community meetings. She said her hope is that whatever the Jurupa district decides “will do it justice.”
“It’s a beautiful property,” she said.
Because of the neighborhood’s proximity to the Santa Ana River bottom, Libertone said a nature center would be appropriate. Another suggestion was to turn the home into a wine-tasting room with a cigar bar.
The house was saved from demolition in 1984 by the Altfillisch family when Arnaz’s Corona Breeding Farm property was sold to make way for a cheese factory.
Bert Altfillisch, who owned a thoroughbred farm in what was then the unincorporated community of Eastvale, was hired to grade the property and demolish the buildings, including the Arnaz ranch house, his family has said.
Bert Altfillisch loved to save things, his family has said, and the Arnaz hacienda was no exception. He cut it into three pieces and hauled it across the Santa Ana River to his Eastvale property.
The house was extensively renovated but the architectural integrity of the original house was preserved.
Welch said the Jurupa district is now negotiating with the Altfillisch family for some photos of celebrities that visited the ranch during its heyday.
“There’s very little of historic value that remains in Eastvale,” Welch said. “To not attempt to preserve this house would be a disservice.”
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