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Before the Fall: Mansions Built on the Cusp of the Depression

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Deep into the miracle decade known as the Roaring '20s, spectacularly luxurious homes were the standard for America's richest robber barons. Right up to 1929, swank residences were being constructed at a rapid rate—until Black Tuesday anyway. So with a spectre of a double-dip looming this week, let's take a look at these pre-Depression homes that—more than 90 years later—ended up as good investments for those who could afford to hang onto them. This Los Angeles mansion might be the ultimate example. Completed in 1929, Mi Patria is today a sprawling Bel Air manse with massively scaled rooms, a renovated kitchen, 35mm screening room, detailed tile work, and a $22.5M asking price.

? This brick Georgian in Houston was built by architect Cameron D. Fairchild in 1929 and has seen several high-grade renovations since, including a complete kitchen revamp. The entertaining rooms have the elegance of the pre-crash '20s and the well-trimmed grounds keep up the style. In light of all this, the third-floor bonus room—with its faux-wood paneling—could use some work. Not bad for $2.3M.

? North of Chicago in Lake Forest, Ill., this Tudor might be asking $3M now, but the listing claims the owners have dumped $3.4M into renovating the 5,900-square-foot manse over the years. So maybe this place isn't such a market stalwart, but it still manages to impress with a capacious great room and period details galore.

? The seaside wasn't forgotten in the luxe lead-up to the Depression (Gatsby, anyone?) and this waterfront residence outside of Boston in Beverly, Mass. is proof. Constructed of stone and stucco, it sits so close to the water that a wall seems to be the only thing separating lawn from surf. For $5.9M, the next buyer gets a 6,300-square-foot spread with an entire wing reserved for servants.

? In NYC real estate circles, 720 Park Avenue's famous neighbor on the next block, 740 Park, might hog all the glory, but since that building was completed in 1930, it doesn't quite qualify for our round-up. 720 Park went up in '29 and houses some truly massive apartments, the sort of places that qualify as mansions in the sky. This 14-room apartment sits on a high-floor with a 30-foot living room, three fireplaces, and five bedrooms. Everything looks to be in great condition and it better be, considering the $30M price tag.

· 256 Copa De Oro Road [Trulia]
· 4 Shadow Lawn Street [Trulia]
· 885 Maplewood Road [Trulia]
· 183 West Street [Trulia]
· 720 Park Avenue [BHS]