This old house really is

This door was formerly the front door, but when the road the house faced was repositioned, it became a side door.

Jim Musulin moved with his brother and parents into this home in 1973, and traced its history back to the 1880s.

By Andie King

Jim Musulin took issue with the statement that the old schoolhouse at Villa Park Elementary is the oldest building in Villa Park.It may be the oldest commercial building, he admits, but the house he and his mother Carole live in outdates it -- by decades.

The Musulin’s comfortable, white tongue-and-groove “Victorian farm” home was built sometime between the 1876 grant deed and 1880, when the land was still within Los Angeles County. 

The family purchased the home in 1973, when husband and father Robert Musulin, an L.A. police officer, determined to move his family away from the crime in Torrance to the safety of the rural community. The home sits back from the street, on a one-half acre plot. Carole Musulin recalls more than 62 trees on their lot, a five-acre orange grove next door, and a single-lane road in front. 

The 3,000-sq.-ft. two-story home boasts a cellar, the original dormers, and a lovely verandah that wraps around on both floors.  The home has nine-and-a-half-foot ceilings in every room, allowing the air to circulate; a tin ceiling, the original counter tile, deep sink and faucet in the kitchen; original wood molding around the doors and picture molding beneath the ceiling; an original wood stove and fireplace, and a gas wall heater (disconnected). All of the light fixtures, including a pin-drop chandelier, are original to the home, as are the sconces, doorknobs and hinges. 

At one point the Musulins replaced the foundation. Workmen commented on the wide pine floor boards and original square-headed nails of an earlier, by-gone era. In 1920, a front parlor area was added, and the former front entrance was repositioned to become the side entrance to the home. The ceiling in this “new” addition is open, showing the beams and rebar. The wooden floor is protected by a large round rag rug, handmade by Carole. 

A 2,000-sq.-ft.-barn also sits on the property.  It has two stories, plus a loft, and a weighty tongue-and-groove garage door that had to be painstakingly cranked open. The property’s large, circular driveway was dirt -- and turned to mud when it rained.  When the family chose to pave it, Jim recalls that the workmen excavated too deep, creating a need for over 57.5 yards of concrete. “The trucks were lined up down the road,” he laughs. 

Carole, who added the “e” to her name at age 13, a la Carole Lombard, will turn 90 in July.  She was once active in the Villa Park Women’s League, leading the “patch and craft” activity. She wrote poetry and ran a decorating business, BC Interiors. 

The gracious Musulin home has survived the elements and natural disasters for over 130 years, a true gem in the Hidden Jewel. 

MAY 2017