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Jazz-Age Los Altos mansion knocks $4.9 million off price

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Former undertaker’s home turned nunnery now seeks $7.98 million

A fountain in front of a four-story Italianate mansion with a Mission-style tower and tile roof. Courtesy Kathy Bridgman

The four-bed, five-bath (four full plus four half baths) house at 220 University Avenue in Los Altos popped onto the market over a year ago asking $12.9 million. That was grand ambition, but then, this is one grand home.

“Sheltered by gates and magnificent gardens, the circa 1926 palazzo showcases classic Italianate style,” boasts the latest ad, which also plays up the “romantic gardens with reflecting pond, waterfall, and spa.”

Last year, a report to the city council assessing 220 University’s historic value praised its “high degree of integrity due to the house reflecting the key characteristics, workmanship and materials of the period revival architecture” and credited “master architect Perseo Righetti” with its design.

Righetti and his partner August Headman designed San Francisco’s Native Sons Building on Mason Street as well as a number of other very Beaux-Arts works around the city.

The original owner, Frank Marini, was of all things an undertaker. After he died he left the place to a local women’s university where it served as “a weekend retreat” for nuns from the Order of the Sacred Heart.

The 2016 assessment seemed suitably impressed with undertaker Marini’s stately undertaking:

This grand house boasts half round multi-lite casement and double hung windows, high ceilings, and a third floor center monitor room. In addition, the house has a beautiful first floor window that serves as the base for a second floor balcony equipped with wrought iron railing, as well as concrete baluster rails complete with urns that welcome one to the front facade.

It does appear, however, that its Gilded Age charm no longer attracts the gilded fortunes it once did, as the latest in a series of price breaks has knocked the asking down to $7.98 million-plus in this most recent offer, a discount of nearly $5 million from its 2016 ambitions.

Still, there must a buyer somewhere with deep pockets and an appreciation for Righetti. If it was good enough for the sisters of the Sacred Heart, surely it has the makings of a modern Silicon Valley sanctuary?