By: Jeffrey Hard  •  Thursday, March 26, 2020

Historic Riverside ‘watchtower’ house, with ties to Mission Inn, lists a year after selling

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A year after it sold, the historic William E. Porter estate is again up for grabs.

The asking price is $2.25 million.


Set behind gates on nearly 3 acres, the 7,380-square-foot residence — designed by lauded Mission Inn architects Arthur Benton and Robert Spurgeon Jr. when orange groves ruled the area — has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a fourth-story tower room.

The mansion was initially known as La Atalaya, Spanish for “the watchtower.”

Designed by Benton and constructed in 1913, the mission-style home was built for retired Philadelphia banker George B. Linnard, according to archival newspaper clippings and the book “Adobes,  Bungalows and Mansions of Riverside California Revisited” by Esther H. Klotz and Joan H. Hall.


They also show Linnard sold the property in 1917 to Porter, president of the Southern Sierra Power Company, later renamed the California Electric Power Co.


When a fire ravaged most of the structure in 1924, Porter brought in Spurgeon to rebuild it. The property at 5800 Hawarden Drive, completed in 1925, is now owned by Altura Credit Union.


Records show the company purchased the home in January 2019 for $2 million, down $399,900 from its original ask in February 2017.

Brad Alewine of Compass said Altura planned to use the home as a corporate retreat and a conference and event center. But making the necessary modifications to permit such use as required by the city’s Cultural Heritage and Planning departments were “impossible to accomplish,” he said.


Instead, Alewine said Altura decided to make “improvements to make the property more appealing to a new owner and offer it for sale.”

But it’s largely unaltered.


The house opens to a spiraling three-story rotunda stairway with an ornate wrought-iron handrail. Beamed ceilings and fireplaces distinguish the living and dining rooms from the rest of the interior.


Among them is a music room, library and large kitchen with a butler’s pantry and a breakfast room.


Other interior features include an elevator, intercom and wet bar.


Outside, there’s a greenhouse, guest quarters and views of the surrounding city and distant mountains.




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