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villa vista circa 1994

Villa Vista circa 1994

The Braun house was built in 1929 as the focal point of a 44-acre estate. The architect, Edgar Vaughn Ullrich, was prominent in Southern California from 1924 until his retirement in the 1950s. Described by the architect as "California Moorish style" the home's size, condition, brick and tile work, unaltered details and condition combine to make it a significant structure. It is particularly typical of an impressive Southern California estate home conceived before the onset of the Depression. The Braun house is located in a mostly rural portion of Vista, California. The topography is rolling and much of the area is wooded (predominantly non-native species grown to mature size). The current remnant of the original estate is 2 acres which includes the house, five outbuildings and much of the original landscaping, walkways, and outdoor improvements. The house has always been used as a single-family residence. Any agriculture practiced on the original estate has ceased.

The Braun house (Now known as Villa Vista) is built in a capital "H" shape 53'6" across the face (front entrance) and 45'6" on the sidewalls. The roof is 26' from ground level to the peak of each tiled ridge. The "H" shape is irregular with the entrance inset 21' from the plane of the front wall. The inset at the rear of the building is only 8'.

The architect described the style of Villa Vista as California Moorish, probably due to the round-topped doors and windows, patios and reflecting pool, along with the outdoor staircase over the front entrance. Certainly the building has elements of mission revival architecture as well.

The layout of the building is simple with the center bar of the "H" a large open room on both floors. The downstairs contains kitchen, powder room, and dining room in the south wing; the large living room and a bedroom with bath in the north wing. The upstairs is completely symmetrical with 2 bedrooms each with full bath in both wings. In total, the house contains eleven rooms and six baths. A full height basement is located under a portion of the south wing. Interior access to the upstairs is by a single open staircase on the north of the central room.

The exterior walls are finished in stucco over partially masonry and partially frame construction. A 3' high red brick stem wall runs around the base of the building. Roof construction is of unglazed red clay tile of the "S" section variety with special decorative nosings and ridge pieces. The red clay material theme is carried to the window sills which are made of diagonally placed brick and the front and rear porches and steps which are brick and 4" square paving tile. The original fish pond in the front entrance area is also made of brick. The stairs to the upper entrance in front have tile treads and risers. Roof drainage is accomplished by, custom cooper gutters and downspouts. The rafter ends are exposed with decorative cuts.

Concrete castings are also used in the construction including the columns which support the rear upstairs patio (modified Doric, 11" base x 8' 6" tall). Some of the windows have decorative concrete outer frames set into the stucco walls. The windows are painted wood; on the ground floor the large arched windows have single fixed square panes with screened "drop in" transoms for ventilation. The upstairs windows are all of the double casement variety, opening out, with matched interior screens which opens in.

The arched doors (both single and paired) on both levels are naturally finished oak with large, single, glass panes. Custom brass door hardware is present throughout the house. The doors have single or double inward opening pine framed screens.

Wrought iron railings are used on the front entry at both levels and on rear balcony. Original metal supports for the awnings on the west side are present as are large cast metal light fixtures at several locations.

The interior construction details include rough finish plaster walls and ceilings in all rooms. In most rooms the ceilings are covered with picture rail at the start of the cove radius. Floors throughout are clear 3" red fir. The flooring is double pegged where butt joints occur. All extant interior doors are solid with eight coffered panels. A nonfunctional fireplace serves as a focal point at the center back wall on both floors. An elaborate columned mantel with polychromed detail surrounds the downstairs fireplace.


Alterations to the house have been relatively minor since 1929.




There are known to have been at least 10 outbuildings on the original estate. Five are extant including two double garages, a guest house, pump house and poultry shed. All of the buildings are the same construction as the house including the stucco exterior, brick stem wall, casement windows and red tile roof.

The subdivision of the property over the years has reduced the original 44 acres estate to 2 acres. This parcel includes the main house, its grounds and the five remaining original outbuildings.