Founder's Grand Vision

Open the door to Villa Narcissa and step into a living history of Palos Verdes. In 1913, New York banker, Frank A Vanderlip, Sr. formed a syndicate to purchase, sight unseen, the 16,000+ acres that comprise the Peninsula. His first project was to be a fashionable seaside development on the bluffs above Abalone Cove. 

In 1916, he built his first home, The Cottage, and followed that, in 1924, with the two-story Italian Villetta, later renamed the Villa Narcissa, a guesthouse to welcome visitors to Portuguese Bend. In 1929, the Depression ended his ambitious dreams, including those for his own grand villa, based on the 16th century palazzo of Pope Julius III.

Instead, in 1946, the Villa Narcissa became a wedding present to his son, Kelvin Vanderlip, Sr. and wife Elin. In 1950, they enlarged the villa, creating additional bedrooms and baths as well as enclosing the staircase in a lofty entrance hall.

Today, the historic Villa Narcissa retains its Italian roots. Formal gardens complement the entrance door that is crowned by a replica Della Robbia frontispiece. A dramatic cypress-lined allee of 268 steps ascends to a Doric colonnade. Classic terracotta statuary adds warm elegance to the garden “rooms,” often secluded behind signature blue wrought iron gates.

Italian Renaissance furniture, family portraits, tapestries, and original art accent the spacious living room. Chinese red walls, antique books and collected treasures decorate the library. A Renaissance refectory table and chairs, needlepointed by Elin Vanderlip, highlight the intimate dining room. An outside patio “living room” continues to host delighted guests. The commanding view, that captivated Frank A. Vanderlip, remains intact.  Over 100 years later, the Peninsula still shows his influence in the Mediterranean architecture and gardens found throughout Palos Verdes.