Recognize these colorful California beach homes? Bright blue one hits market for $5.45M

The bright blue unit at the end of the iconic complex of colorful houses lining Capitola Beach in Northern California has hit the market for the first time in 50 years for $5.45 million.

Unit 12 is part of the famous and historic residential seaside resort known as Venetian Court. The vivid beach property is one of the most recognizable places in Santa Cruz County.

The two rows of pastel houses, built as condominiums beginning in 1924, were designed to bring some of the charm of Venice, Italy, to Capitola. The residences were listed in 1987 on the National Register of Historic Places. They were built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style with Mediterranean influences.

“The image of the waterfront, pastel Venetian Court has become symbolic of not only the city of Capitola, but also the seaside beauty represented by the entire state of California,” listing agent Jerid Kiedrowski, a Realtor with Allen Property Group, said in an email to the Sacramento Bee. “Over the past century it has withstood its fair share of storms, prohibition and the Great Depression to remain a representation of the California Dream.”

Unit 12, at 1500 Wharf Road, is nestled between the Stockton Avenue Bridge and the Capitola Wharf. The home has a private balcony overlooking the Capitola Esplanade and Monterey Bay, and is just steps from the beach.

The light-filled apartment, built in 1930, spans 1,926 square feet, with two bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs and three bedrooms and one bathroom downstairs.

In the 1920s, oil millionaire Henry Allen Rispin envisioned a second Venice in Capitola, according to the National Register of Historic Places. His dream to bring a touch of European charm to the California coast became Venetian Court, also known as the “Venetians.”

“The complex’s fanciful, yet functional design has been a Capitola landmark since its completion, one that has influenced local architectural styling through to the present,” according to the official list of historic places.. “It typifies the resort development in Capitola during the rise of the automobile. It was one of the earliest motel and condominium developments in the state.”

Kiedrowski said Santa Cruz County classifies the homes as attached, single-family residences.

“It’s probably most accurate to describe the Venetian Court as California’s first vacation home complex, which is also celebrating its centennial anniversary this year,” he told The Bee. “The units are wood frame construction with heavy stucco siding and flat roofs featuring parapet walls and small towers with pyramidal caps. Balconies, tile detailing, repeated plaster arches and relief work depicting smiling gargoyles and dolphins add touches of charm.”

The contemporary pastel paint distinguishes each unit from the next “and adds Mediterranean warmth,” Kiedrowski said.

“Each unit is designed to be unique and different from the rest,” he added. “Any changes to the Venetian Court have been primarily internal remodeling and have not affected the buildings original architectural integrity, as they were originally built approximately 100 years prior.”

The same family has owned Unit 12 since 1976, Kiedrowski said. The family also owns the adjacent Venetian Hotel, which manages the home through its rental program.

The unit used to be the same color as the hotel, but was painted a vibrant blue color earlier this year, Kiedrowski said. The National Historic Register designation prohibits changes to the building’s exterior, other than color. Inside, the unit has been thoroughly remodeled.

“Unit 12 was never intended to be part of the adjacent hotel/vacation rental complex and the owners have decided to offer it back as a single-family home, as it was originally intended,” he said. “Many of the adjacent owners are families who have owned their homes for decades, past down from one generation to the next.”

Kiedrowski noted that Unit 22, “the iconic pink home on the opposite end of the court,” was the most recent Venetian Court residence to sell, going for $2.9 million in 2016.

“Since then, one of Capitola’s other iconic homes, known as one of the Six Sisters (at 112 Esplanade) sold for $4.2 million back in 2021,” Kiedrowski said. “Each of these units is slightly smaller than the size of Venetian Number 12.”

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The blue unit at the end of Venetian Court is for sale in Capitola, California, for $5.45 million.
The blue unit at the end of Venetian Court is for sale in Capitola, California, for $5.45 million.
The historic Venetian Court seaside vacation resort on Capitola Beach.
The historic Venetian Court seaside vacation resort on Capitola Beach.
The view from Venetian Court Unit 12.
The view from Venetian Court Unit 12.