A Third Duncan?

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 6:24pm.

You might have blinked and missed it.

Last week, a new listing popped up at 1160 Duncan.

But it wasn't Duncan Ave. And it wasn't Duncan Place.

It was Duncan Drive, east of Sepulveda.

Duncan Drive? How many Duncans do we have here in MB? And why?

We get at those questions in our new video, posted right here below.



That 4-minute video also captures the rather awesome panoramas from 1160 Duncan. But if you're more of a reader, here's the basic story.

Yes, we have Duncan Ave. and Duncan Place west of the highway. Duncan Ave. is a nice, wide street on a gently sloping part of the hill, from which lots of homes pick up good ocean views. Duncan Place is an alley, though we have seen some very decent views from some homes along there.

But Duncan Drive is east of the highway, in 2 segments. One part looks like a continuation of Duncan Ave. across Sepulveda, just rebranded.

The Duncan Drive where we find 1160 Duncan Drive is a small, curving, semi-private, street with just a few homes on it. A big "No Outlet" sign warns off passersby: Locals Only. 1160 is in yellow on this map.

There are, at most, 8 homes on the block, some with addresses on Kuhn Drive instead of Duncan Drive. The hill slopes down to the east, opening up a pretty tremendous city/mountain panorama for homes on that side of the street. (Our video shows these off from the back deck at 1160 Duncan Dr.)

These 3 Duncans in MB are named for Col. Blanton Duncan, effectively the town's first homeowner, who bought major chunks of land – nearly 200 acres – in the area in the late 1800s. (The name "Manhattan" was not given to our town until 1901, by another new landowner; "Beach" was added much later.)

Col. Duncan was the son of a Kentucky congressman and both a Civil War soldier and profiteer. For a time, he literally made money printing money – Confederate money – apparently managing his businesses with quite a heavy hand. Much later, he decided Southern California was better than the defeated South as a place to retire.

Being new to town, Col. Duncan didn't realize there would be no life east of Sepulveda, so he built a house and ranch pretty much at Sepulveda and Duncan (all the Duncans) on the east side of the highway. Rather than ocean views, this would have treated his family and guests to mountain views and maybe some hints of (littler) downtown LA.

A good, online local history says of the likely shape of the Duncan residence:

Mr. & Mrs. Duncan lived well in Kentucky and would never consider shabby housing.  They were accustomed to entertaining.  One would have to take into account that the house was built on top of a 50 to a 70-foot sand dune.  It was probably two stories with a porch, comfortable, spacious and large enough for entertaining.
There are all kinds of great rumors, tales and myths around Col. Duncan's property and activities, most of which the MB Historical Society calls BS on. But it's delicious to imagine a giant beacon on the property to signal ships, secret tunnels out to the beach, the systematic murder of each smuggler to deliver a load of whatever contraband, hidden stashes of gold bars and – no less – tales of a haunting at the Duncan residence.

We should all be so lucky to inspire mythologies like that.

Meantime, here in the current day, 1160 Duncan Drive offers a little slice of history – well, 18,300 sq. ft. of land – on this largely unknown street, with those very rare views to the north, east and even south, for $2.649m. The 1965-era structure on site seems unlikely to survive the transition.

Soon it will be time to write the next chapter on this particular part of Duncan Drive.
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