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Sometimes the trouble with being incomparable in real estate is that, well, there are no comps.

Take the one-of-a-kind modern home at 804 S Bayfront, Newport Beach, CA 92662 as a prime example.

Curved beam accentuates fir ceilings. Source: Los Angeles Times via Mid-Century Modern Remodel

In the two years since the 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2,100-square-foot home has been on the Newport Beach real estate market, it has seen four price drops, from its original list price of $5.495 million down to its current list price of $4.495 million.

Tidy utilitarian kitchen. Source: Los Angeles Times via Mid-Century Modern Remodel

The home was designed in 1980 by legendary architect John Lautner, who created some of California’s “sexiest” modern structures, including The Elrod House, home to James Bond in “Diamonds Are Forever.”

While the Rawlins House — named for the original owners, arts patrons and philanthropists Bob and Marge Townsley Rawlins — was never featured in a 007 flick, it has been a part of southern California’s architectural history.

Written about here by Mid-Century Modern Remodel blogger Rebecca Gonzalez, the Rawlins House, with its curved roof, open space and lack of conventional walls, endures as the most urban home ever built by the Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice.

In the late 1970s, the Rawlins decided to return to Southern California to retire, and acquired the last unbuilt bayfront plot on Balboa Island, Newport Beach. Having lived for two decades in a modernist ‘Eichler’ house, they chose architect John Lautner to realize Joseph Eichler’s notion of ‘bringing the outside in’ on a waterfront plot 30 feet wide and 70 feet deep, hemmed in by other houses. The result was a very individual, open-plan building of wood and concrete, with all of its curved seaward end filled by glass panels that could slide aside at the touch of a button. Initially resistant to Lautner’s insistence on providing the two-story house with an elevator, they were later glad that this allowed them to spend the rest of their lives there.”

Indoor/outdoor is the name of the game for Rawlins House. Source: Los Angeles Times via Mid-Century Modern Remodel

But when Marge Rawlins passed away in 2009 (Bob died in 1993), the home was listed for sale. Despite the history and uniqueness of the home, a 2010 poll in the Orange County Register all but predicted that the $5.495 million list price would be a tough sell.

 22 percent of respondents predicted the house would sell for less than $5 million, and 67 percent thought it would sell for under $4.5 million.”

 

Listing agent Cory Weiss of Partners Trust Real Estate said the home has been freshened up.

Recent thoughtful updates and restoration accentuate original features such as Douglas fir ceilings, ceramic tile floors and a copper balcony and roof. With spectacular waterfront views of Newport Harbor from all living areas, this house is a true Modernist escape.”

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About the Author

Laura Vecsey is a former sports columnist, news reporter and politics writer and has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union and Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was also a regional editor with Examiner.com. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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