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Spreckels Mansion may undergo renovation after 2 deaths

February 28, 2012 | 10:55 am

  The Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, where a millionaire's girlfriend committed suicide after his 6-year-old son died after a fall down a staircase, may undergo a major restoration, the developers are proposing.

The investment group that owns the 27-room estate has proposed a restoration project on its original 1907 design.

The oceanfront mansion made national headlines after Rebecca Zahau, girlfriend of millionaire Jonah Shacknai, was found hanging from a balcony last summer at the oceanfront property.

Two days earlier, Shacknai's 6-year-old son, Max, was rushed to the hospital after he fell down a staircase inside the Ocean Boulevard mansion.

Authorities later concluded that Zahau, 32, had hanged herself out of grief after learning Max was not going to survive his injuries. She had been home with him at the time of the fall while his divorced father was at the gym.

“It’d be nice to change the conversation, less sensationalism about the recent tragedies and more about what the house represents as far as a significant piece of architecture here in Coronado and a significant property in itself,” real estate broker Scott Aurich said.

Aurich is working with the firm that is selling the remodeled home. The group would like to replace the slanted tile roof with a flat roof for a sun deck.

The finished design would resemble the Glorietta Bay Inn, architect Harrison Albright’s famous design.

“It’s a significant historical asset. It was built by John Spreckels, the guy who basically built the [Coronado] Island,” Aurich said. “Taking it back to that original architectural style preserves the integrity and the rich history of the house.”

The sight is protected under the Mills Act, which means the city’s Historic Resource Commission has to approve any changes to the exterior.

It took the previous owner years to get approval for adding awnings to the windows and French doors to the living and dining rooms. The plan will come up for discussion during a March 7 hearing.


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-- Walter Morris, Fox5 San Diego