latimes.com — After Diana and Stuart Livingstone purchased this two-story brick Italianate estate home in Old Towne Orange from a Catholic missionary in 1987, they realized they had stretched themselves to the brink of financial disaster. The timing couldn’t have been worse: the stock market crashed that year, and Diana found out she was pregnant with the couple’s second child shortly after they opened escrow.
To recoup some cash, they rented it out for two years before beginning the monumental task of updating the property, which was built in 1923 by Dr. Arthur Domann, one of the city’s early physicians.
While the white oak floors were stripped and refinished, the Livingstones along with their two small children, an infant, a dog and a cat squeezed into the small studio apartment above the garage.
The kitchen was gutted and redesigned. Next came a 600-square-foot addition, which became the master bedroom and bathroom on the first floor.
Along the way, they discovered several rarities and loads of custom details: birchwood in the grand entry is stained in red mahogany, Batchelder tiles surrounding the fireplace in the east-facing library, a shower system dating back to the late 1920s, large French pocket doors and a v-shaped area in the full basement where wine was once stored.
Meanwhile, Diana scoured Southern California to locate, restore or replace hundreds of pieces of vintage hardware, including faceplates, door knobs, handles and vent covers.
In the library and the stairway, several panels of stained glass hark back to when the priests lived in the home.
On the second floor, a section of the ceiling was removed to expose a dormer window, allowing sunlight to flow into the stairwell.
The final phase took place in 2004 when architect John Killen designed the outdoor kitchen-bar area, a stone wall with a gate to reduce the noise from heavily trafficked Shaffer Street, an open-beam trellis pavilion with ledger stone columns, and a Mission-style fire pit. While the main house is more formal Italian, the pool area is rustic Mediterranean.
Since the Old Towne area has long been a magnet for filmmakers and television producers looking for unique settings, it’s not surprising the owners were contacted by a location manager from “Ghost Whisperer”, a CBS television series that first aired in 2005. The opening and portions of the pilot were filmed at the home.
Last year, the city of Orange awarded the property Mills Act tax savings status.
Location: 515 E. Maple, Orange 92866
Asking price: $1,799,995
Previously sold for: $305,000 in 1987
Size: There are four bedrooms, three full and two half bathrooms in the main house.
Lot size: 16,603 square foot double corner lot
Additional features: The outdoor kitchen/bar area includes a stainless steel gas cooktop, refrigerator, sink, storage compartment and a 42-inch flat panel TV; salt water pool and custom spa; dual zoned heating and air-conditioning systems, tankless water heater, motor court with space for six vehicles, the carriage house consists of a double-car garage with an apartment on the second floor.