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The Alverno Villa is a duplicate of the Villa Collazzi located on the outskirts of Florence, Italy. Villa Collazzi has been occupied for several centuries by the Bombicci-Fomi family, and legend has it that the Villa is the only one ever designed by the immortal Michaelangelo. In 1924, prominent Los Angeles physician Walter Barlow began building his dream house in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. The Tuscan-style villa reflected the Barlows' love of Italy - The facade a one-quarter scale replica of the Villa Collazzi near Florence. Pasadena architect Wallace Neff was commissioned to create the house that would be called the Villa del Sol d'Oro. The Villa has the elegant black and white tiled foyer with a curving stairway and wrought iron banister that became classic Wallace Neff touches.
Originally built on thirteen acres of trees and flowers overlooking the entire San Gabriel Valley, the Villa had five master bedrooms, four baths, ample help quarters, one of the first electric elevators in the area, porches on three sides, and spacious patios. On the grounds were garages, stables, a caretaker's home, a swimming pool, bath house, and tennis courts.
Marion Patterson Barlow sold the Villa del Sol d'Oro, after her husband died, to the Sisters of St. Francis in 1942. The Sisters used the house as a novitiate before building the existing school in 1960. Alverno Heights Academy graduated its first class on the Terrace in 1964. The name was changed to Alverno High School in the early 1970's.
Film companies frequently use the Villa as a shooting location. Legally Blonde, Unstrung Heroes, A Walk in the Clouds, True Lies, and Molly are some of the feature films made at Alverno.
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