Listing of the Week: Home with 'star' quality
Watch for this Long Beach, Calif., home on 'Glee' next month. The homeowners added an observatory and have seen stars of various kinds ever since.
When you do a major home renovation, there are certain things you are likely to include: a new kitchen, maybe additional bedrooms, updated systems.
In Long Beach, Calif., Dr. Gregory Szal and Regina Szal added an observatory with a specially designed telescope calibrated for their location. Over the years, the home has been the scene of numerous fundraisers, TV shows and commercials. In a few weeks, you can see it on "Glee."
Or, if you'd like to see it every day, it's listed for sale for $1.4999 million.
Post continues below
The 4,402-square-foot home has five bedrooms and 3.5 baths and is on nearly half an acre in the Los Cerritos neighborhood. It's in a traditional style, with lots of windows adding a modern touch. Check out the photo of the spa tub with a view. The property also has an outdoor spa, pool and guesthouse. You can see 31 photos and a video at the listing website.
The original house was built in 1936 and the Szals added the second story, including the observatory and a darkroom below, in 1985. Dr. Szal, an astronomy buff since childhood, and his family and friends spent hours over the years watching galaxies, nebulae and other deep sky objects. They watched comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crash into Jupiter in 1994 and watched Mars come closer to the Earth than it had been in 50,000 years in 2003.
Not only have the home and observatory been the setting for TV shows, commercials and fundraisers, but the room and its owners also were the inspiration for a setting and characters in novelist Jan Burke's "Hocus."
The author tells about meeting Regina Szal at a fundraiser after Szal placed the winning bid to become a character in one of Burke's novels. Burke writes:
Those of you who have read "Hocus" may recall that at one point in the book, Irene visits a couple in Bakersfield — the Szals — who help her unravel more of the mystery surrounding those who have taken Frank hostage. I liked the real life Szals as much — or more — than she liked the fictional ones.
If you're wondering whether you've ever seen the house, we can report it has appeared in "American Pie 2," "Red Dragon," "Annie’s Point," "Joan of Arcadia" and "Criminal Minds." It also was in the 2002 Charles Schwab Super Bowl halftime commercial, plus commercials for Safeway grocery stores, Armor All Car Wax and Huggies Pull-Ups Good Nites Underpants.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.