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 destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. 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.
Albert and Constance Braasch owned a furnace and radiator company. Two of their working heaters are still in the upstairs bedrooms (but please don’t turn them on). Constance Braasch was a painter and piano tutor. The murals, floral wall designs, stain glass and wood carvings are her handiwork or at least inspiration. She had a grand piano in the entryway, and at regular intervals her students would have piano recitals for their parents in the house. The Braasch family lived here until Constance passed away in 1977. We have recently been in contact 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 those roommates may have been younger brother Casey Affleck. We don’t know if he stayed her, but the previous owner mentioned to us that he either made or was making a short film, set here.
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 Laguan 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!