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Tiburon ‘castle’ asks $3 million

Hillside redoubt near Lyford’s Tower comes with wild history

Photos courtesy of Lauren Ramsey, David Schwartz

They say that your home is your castle, but nobody mentions what happens to castles when they funds run out, landslides bury the whole thing, and 100 years later buyers are poking around your former bootlegging cellar during a weekend open house.

As far as castles go, 34 Linda Vista Avenue in Tiburon is a relatively minor redoubt at four beds, two baths, and roughly 3,200 square feet, all of it on the market to the tune of $3 million.

According to the ad from realtors Lauren Ramsey and David Schwartz, the property dates to “around 1890, when Tiburon was but a speck on the map,” the product of “a German immigrant living in SF and working as an architect [who] decided this was the perfect spot to build a castle.”

The ad doesn’t go into further detail, but it turns out that unnamed German Immigrant was architect Gustav Behrnd, working at the behest of Benjamin Lyford, a local doctor, embalmer, and Civil War surgeon.

Tiburon regulars probably recognize his name from the nearby, Norman-style Lyford Tower, which Atlas Obscura says was meant to mark the entrance to Utopian hillside development that Lyford sadly never managed to actually start.

Unfortunately, as a sales video from 2013 explains, funds on what’s now 34 Linda Vista ran out during construction and the abandoned “castle” ended up slowly buried by its Tiburon hillside, until a future property owner accidentally uncovered it in 1925 and set about the first of its many renovations.

The house’s second story isn’t original to the Bernd, and it goes without saying that neither are the bulk of the interiors. Only the exteriors of the house and its two-foot thick concrete walls maintain the original atmosphere, although the old place still has plenty of atmosphere to go around.

For example, in 2013 the property’s former realtor, Shana Rohde-Lynch, made much of the property’s hidden tunnels, secret rooms, and disguised passageways. It turns out these cloak-and-dagger touches were not an attempt to playing up the castle’s mystique, but more likely practical additions for the purposes of discretely storing bootleg liquor during the prohibition days.