Main Content – November 2022

Southern California Home of Late Music Industry Legend Hits the Right Note for $3M

A Southern California home owned by a music industry legend is now available for the first time.

The late Donald James Leslie, inventor of the Leslie speaker, built this five-bedroom home in Altadena in 1958 and raised his family there. The residence came on the market a couple of months ago for $3 million.

But first, let’s amplify Leslie’s background. The Leslie speaker and amplifier was designed to modify the sound of an instrument like an organ.

After Leslie began manufacturing the speakers in 1941, they became an integral element of electric organ sound and added a familiar vibrato to the instrument.

“He would have world-class organists come to the home and play the pipe organ that’s actually installed in the home,” says listing agent Michael Bell, of Sotheby’s International Realty. But Leslie didn’t stop at installing a pipe organ within the walls of his personal residence.

“Another incredible part of this property is what we’ve been calling a wall of sound—or a wall of instruments. It’s about 15 feet wide, 3 feet thick, and it’s full of instruments that are directly tied to the pipe organ.”

It’s just one of the signature Leslie touches in the 4,162-square-foot midcentury home, which hasn’t changed much over the decades.

“The home really is a time capsule from the ’50s. The kitchen was remodeled probably in the ’80s,” Bell says. “Everything in the house works very well, but it probably needs to be freshened up by the new buyer.”

Leslie’s children “have commented many times to me that over the years they never really realized how good they had it. They never went to anybody else’s home as kids. Everybody came to their house. It’s one of those homes,” Bell says.

Friends and family enjoyed the pool, tennis court, and other amenities on the sprawling property.

An additional half-acre lot is available for $1 million.

“Leslie bought the adjacent vacant lot as a buffer. The kids would go out there and go camping or ride their bikes,” Bell says. “It’s a very tranquil location.

“The perfect buyer is probably somebody who is looking for a legacy home and the last home they ever want to buy. That’s what Don Leslie built for himself,” he says. “Hopefully, it will be somebody who really appreciates the legacy of Mr. Leslie and would like to keep the pipe organ in the home with the music instrumentation room.”

In addition to the organ with the Leslie speaker, there’s a large bar in a prominent location with the Leslie logo and a compass on the floor.

“We’ve had a number of Realtors® check on their phones with their little compass apps, and they said it was fine,” Bell says with a laugh.

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