Home for a while – Casa Grenville
May 5, 2020

Since things are running behind at Casa Louise, I thought it might be fun to post about some of the wonderful homes we rented over the years. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family and I had been visiting beautiful San Miguel for almost ten years before we found the place we wanted to make our own. One of the most romantic homes we stayed in was Casa Glenville, which we rented for several years. It was the former home of the British actor and film director, Peter Glenville, who achieved acclaim in the late fifties and early sixties for his work on numerous films.

When you stepped through the main gate onto this property, it was as if you had stepped back in time — a romantic anomaly in a world that keeps moving toward modernity. It possessed a distinctly old Hollywood aura about it with a little bit of Grey Gardens tossed in. A home frozen in time. We all loved its wonderful sense of drama and romance. These two images are from the main entrance and I’m sure you can see what I mean — all that lush cascading greenery, paired with the vine-covered trellis over the front patio and the meandering paths leading to secret gardens and nooks beyond the door.

The house came with a wonderful sheepdog named Lennon who became fast friends with my sister's dog, Moo.

When I say secret garden, I’m not being overly descriptive. The house had two parcels of property. The first contained the main house built up the cascading hillside and featuring a stunning stone facade at the rear. Off to the side, an old wooden door led through an ivy covered stone wall into a totally separate area. And what lied beyond the doors? Magic.

The highlight of the secret garden was this stupendous 30 ft. long swimming pool. A pool so beautiful it was photographed by Bruce Webber and featured in Kelly Klein’s eponymous book Pools. I spent many hours swimming back and forth through the arching fountain sprays of water along the pool’s edge.

The pool was flanked by an allée of trees and another vine covered patio on on one side side. On the other side, the tiered stone steps led to the Hollywood Regency style, two story domed casita. This is where I stayed for my visits with my family. Its living room featured a large ceramic statue of a camel that was apparently a gift from Peter O’toole who had received it from the crew on the set of Lawrence of Arabia! Perhaps it was too exotic for Peter’s tastes but it fit perfectly at the bottom of the curved staircase in the glass front casita at Casa Glenville.

Here is a shot of my view from the top of the casita steps to the town beyond the allée. It was a wonderful site to take in every morning.
On the right is one of the staircases in the main house featuring swagged, green silk rope railings with huge end tassels: quintessential old glamour!

And of course there was a terrific site line to the hot air balloons flaoting across the skyline with the rising sun each day.

The first floor dining room was wrapped in a whimsical lace-inspired printed wallpaper, which you don’t see very often in SMA. It also featured a weighty wood table fit for a medieval feast along with the seashell capped bookshelves that San Miguel is famous for.

On colder days, my family would gather in the living room in front of the wood fireplace. The room was filled with a striking collection of antiques and oil paintings and I loved how although it was formal in decor, it was also wonderfully comfortable.
Such a special time in my life to spend so many beautiful days and nights together with my immediate family. I sincerely hope that Casa Glenville will stay frozen in time forever as it really is a bit of design history … and magic. We need more magic in the world.