Originally inhabited by Native Americans, including the Tongva people (AKA Gabrielinos), the land was part of the Rancho San Rafael. A small farmhouse was built there “the late 1800s”.
The family of Albert and Constance Braasch moved to Eagle Rock in 1914 after their San Francisco based furnace and radiator company was either destroyed in the 1906 earthquake or in a 1909 fire. Sometime in the late 1910s or early 1920s, they purchased a swath of land that included the 1800s farmhouse, and was the width of our lot and from the now Hill Drive up to the ridge behind the now freeway CA 134. They subdivided the land and then in 1923, they commissioned a 35 year old Paris-born architect, Jean-Louis Egasse, to design, build and landscape the house and yard that you see today. As far as we know, this was Jean-Louis’ first house that he built on his own. He built two other houses in LA – one a stone’s throw away at 5320 Hilltop Road (1926), the other in Echo Park (1924) at 2306 Effie St – and then moved to Laguna Beach where he built several houses and other buildings.
Two of Albert and Constance Braasch’s working gas-fired heaters are still in the upstairs bedrooms (but we don’t turn them on). Constance Braasch was a painter and piano tutor. She had already been organizing semi-annual piano recitals before the house was built, and continued having semi-annual recitals though at least the 1950s, most of which were held at the house. The grand entryway with its 330 cm (11 foot) tall stain glass window was most likely used for both piano tutor sessions and the recitals, with a built-in upright and grand piano in the center of the room. The murals, floral wall designs, stain glass and wood carvings are Constance’s handiwork or at least her inspiration. The Braasch family lived here until Constance passed away in 1977. We have met with a great nephew and great niece of the Albert and Constance, with the great nephew visiting the house in October 2016.
The second owner lived here off and on, but mostly off. Instead, he rented the house, both piecemeal and in its entirety. The most famous tenants were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Ben was familiar with the area since he had attended Occidental College. He convinced his childhood friend, Matt, to write his “Good Will Hunting” screenplay in Eagle Rock. In September 1993, the two aspiring screenwriters, actors rented this entire house for $12,900 for the first month and $2,150 for each month thereafter through March 1994 – plus, they had to pay a security deposit of $4,300. They were allowed to have up to two more roommates for that price. One of the possible roommates listed on the rental agreement was younger brother Casey Affleck. The previous owner stated that he either made or was making a short film, set here. Of the three known to live at the house at that time, all three were future Oscar winners!
After being unoccupied for six years while on the roller-coaster real estate market, David & Myanna purchased the house in February 2012. In 2013, we made contact with Jeanne Egaase, the granddaughter of Jean-Louis Egasse. She is a Spanish teacher at Irvine Valley College. While she knew that her grandfather had build several houses and other buildings in Laguna Beach, and that he had lived in Eagle Rock, she did not know about this house. We invited her over for an afternoon, ironically the same day that Ben Affleck won Oscars for his film Argo. Jeanne Egasse had not known her grandfather too well due to a family strife, but she recalled visiting him in his house in Santa Barbara, which he built several “stairs to nowhere”, interior areas with exterior windows and shingles and secret passageways.
Nowadays, the house has come to life again. The garden has opened up so the house is again very visible from the street. There’s still a lot of work to fix things, but we’re working on it!