The Guasti Villa

Category: Architecture
Published on Sunday, 06 June 2010 13:33
Written by Renee Montgomery

Bulletin! Bulletin! If you’re not taking advantage of two estates in our community, regularly open to the public, you’re missing a treat.

The Clark Library grounds with large lawns, walkways and statuary, at Cimarron and Adams, is open for public strolls during the week. What better way to de-stress the day?

You should also be aware that the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens and The Movement Of Spiritual Awareness (MISA) and its building--the former Guasti  Villa—are also available for tours, meals or simply hanging out on an almost-daily basis.

In 1910 Mr. Gausti an Italian immigrant who helped develop one of the first California vineyards into one of  the world’s largest, commissioned Hudson and Munsell to design the mansion in the Beauz Arts/Italian style. The impressive home features most of the original lighting fixtures, doors and moulding, rare bronze stair-rails, a hydrolic elevator, solarium, servants quarters, carriage house, and porte de coucher, Marble, imported from Italy came along with some artisans who were responsible for the carved wood paneling  and handpainted murals adorning the ceilings, illustrated with cherubs holding grapes and other heavenly images.   The bedroom of Guasti’s only surviving child reflects the boy’s muscular dystrophy in a then-state-of-the-art therapeutic shower.  

In 1937 Busby Berkely bought the home,
turning the basement wine cellar into a film editing studio among other refinements.  Then in 1944 the Los Angeles Physicians Aid Association, acquired the property as a retirement home, adding two wings.   The current owners, the Movement of Spiritual and Inspirational Awareness (MSIA) purchased it in 1974 and engaged in a faithful  and loving restoration after much damage caused by the 1994 earthquake. 

While the home originally looked out onto rolling greens with citrus and avocado trees, it was the MSIA who developed the property into breathtaking landscaped fountains, a meditation garden and labyrinthe based on the one at Chartres.  Now the MSIA uses the home as the movement’s world headquarters but it mainly serves as a backdrop for special seminars, retreats, classes and visitors revolving around the beautiful grounds, labyrinth, and view.

Free tours of the home and gardens are offered Tues-Friday from 11-3 and are also accessible MWF after evening seminars.  The dining room (with cool chef) is open for lunch and dinner M-F at 1 and 6 pm.  So simply ring the bell (seriously) and make yourself at home with pond fish, turtles and staff at this exceptional oasis.