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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Eagle Rock home that rises above the rest

Hill Drive has long reigned as Eagle Rock's premier residential street, with giant homes sprawling over gently rolling lots. But one home has long loomed over the others: the Bekins-Lane mansion. The home, built in 1927 by the founder of the Bekins moving company, sits atop 3-1/2 acres of gardens and is said to be Eagle Rock's largest home. Many residents who may have wondered what it's like behind the estate gates will get a chance to find out tonight when the current owners will present the story and photos of the French Chateau-style home during a meeting of the Eagle Rock Historical Valley Society.

Martin Bekins built the house to spend his retirement years with his wife, said historical society president Eric Warren. But Bekins lived in the house only a few years before passing away in 1933. The house was then sold to oil industry executive Willfred "Bill" Lane. In 1965, Emanuel and Maria Kvassay, immigrants from Eastern Europe, purchased the property, and the house remains in their family. One of the Kvassays' sons, Robert, began restoring the property in recent years, including some large green houses and other buildings on the estate he has named "Chateau Emanuel." "He's done a tremendous job," said Warren.

Warren, who grew up a few blocks from the estate, said the home has remained a mystery to many residents. But he recalls childhood visits to the house during Halloween, when the previous owners would offer up ice cream to neighborhood kids. "We would head there as the climax of our trick-or-treeting experience," Warren said. "It was a pretty good deal."

Tonight's free presentation will be held at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts at 7 pm.

Photo by A.H. Varble/Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society

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