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Location: Montecito, Calif.
The Skinny: Inspired by the Dutch Colonial country estates in the hills outside Cape Town, South Africa, this Montecito mansion, known as Constantia, was designed by Chicago-based architect Ambrose Cramer as a wintertime escape for one of his Windy City patrons, the Meeker meatpacking family. Over the years since its completion in 1931, the magnificent structure passed to other local notables, like architect Jack Warner and philanthropists Stewart and Katherine Abercrombie, who are said to have hosted the Dalai Lama here on one of his American tours. The current owner, who purchased the property in 2006, has conducted an exacting renovation of the 9,800-square-foot main house and the sprawling Lockwood de Forest, Jr.-designed grounds. That must have been quite a reno, because now that very same owner is asking $17.5M, a solid $10.5M more than he or she paid back in '06. Regardless of the profit margin, this place has undeniably been restored to the standard that earned it a place in a 1979 issue of Architectural Digest.
· 1599 E Valley Road [Zillow]