One day when the spirit moves you, take a drive or a walk (better) to the intersection where Norumbega and Shamrock intersect at Greystone. Nestled on a triangular piece of land behind a row of trees and a wood fence is the French-Norman cottage known as, “Le Chateau des Reves” (for the non-French speaking, The Castle of Dreams). Built by artist Frederick Melville DuMond sometime around 1920 (the exact date is unknown), the house is located on the boundary line between the historic ranchos Santa Anita and Azusa de Duarte and sits at a location once thought to be a stagecoach stop. The most dramatic exterior feature of the house is a circular tower on the south side, and five windows in the second level of the tower provide an abundance of light and ventilation to the room.
DuMond was born in New York to French parents but studied art in Paris. He moved to California in 1910 and eventually settled in Monrovia where his parents lived. He married Louise Kerr who was also a painter, and the current owners have a picture of their son, who became a physicist, in a group photo with Albert Einstein taken at Cal Tech. The elder DuMond was an internationally known painter and became noted for his paintings of the American Southwest. He lived in Monrovia until his death in 1927 at the age of 60. He passed away only a few hours after receiving word that “Dawn,” the painting he considered to be his masterpiece, was to be hung in a French salon in Paris.
In June 2010, sixty members of the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group held a meeting at the home and received a personal tour of the house and grounds. The current owners, Gay Mitchell and Gary Falasco, have lived there for one year, having purchased the cottage from a family member who had resided there for the previous 42 years. It was a rare treat for MOHPG member, who are accustomed to visiting the best vintage homes that Monrovia has to offer. The house has never been on the MOHPG annual home tour, so only a handful of people in the community have ever seen its interior. Gay and Gary have begun a modest restoration which is true to the artistic talent and original design of DuMond.
Stepping into the living room from the front door, one is immediately struck by the medieval flavor of the space. The thick, wood beams (DuMond felled the trees and hewed the beams himself) contain decorative and whimsical carved figures – one each of the joker, the judge, the monk, and the devil. A six foot square mural of “Old King Cole” adorns the sloping ceiling on one side of the room. DuMond’s artistic and creative talent is obvious throughout the rest of the house, as evidenced by the many painted wall murals, including one in the shower! The peaceful atmosphere inside is augmented by the recently certified wildlife habitat on the outside.
A special thanks to Steve Baker who has researched the early history of the house and to current owner Gay Mitchell who provided documents and pictures of the DuMond family.