Issue #45
News for the Neighborhood #45
Old Towne Property
The stately home on North Shaffer has evolved over the years after a series of different homeowners made their own unique additions to the house. Current owners Jim and Leila Langston have added the finishing touches, including the brick walkway at the entry. According to Leila, a Cooper’s hawk began nesting in the 100–year–old ash tree this spring.
Old Towne Property

In the living room, a 1919 Wurlitzer player piano takes center stage near the windows. The piano originally belonged to Jim’s aunt and uncle. Leila keeps her collection of copper luster pitchers in the small cabinet to the left.

Old Towne Property

The opulent and ornate fireplace features a hand–carved mantel and enormous mirror, which was already in place when the Langstons purchased the home.

Old Towne Property

With the help of craftsman Bill Buck, the Langston’s transformed the kitchen into a stunning showplace that imparts a nostalgic feeling. Marble countertops enhance the vintage look. The antique farmhouse table came from the couple’s son–in–law, whose grandparents brought it to California from South Dakota in 1950.

Old Towne Property

Beadboard paneling and detailed trim define the guest bedroom. The hand–stitched antique quilt was made by Jim’s grandmother and aunt many years ago.

Old Towne Property

The iris tiles found throughout the bathroom add to the home’s eclectic look.

A little house that began as a 600–square–foot Victorian in the year 1888 eventually evolved into the 3,500–square–foot showplace that it is today, thanks to the contributions of various homeowners through the years.

Located at 159 North Shaffer, the elegant, two–story residence has been added onto over the decades, even as recently as the 2000s when a former owner, Rick Roeder, thought about making it into a bed and breakfast. Purchased last year by Jim and Leila Langston, the eclectic residence reflects many slices of Old Towne history and lifestyles.

“It’s a hodgepodge of a lot of people’s great ideas,” said Leila. “One owner came along and transformed the atrium into a dining room. Another owner turned the attic into a master bedroom. It’s got windows from every different period, a kitchen that was originally the garage and a stairway that was once the kitchen. But somehow it all works. It’s not your ordinary house.”

According to Leila, the house still retains some original components from the 1880s, including the windows and one door in the living room and bedroom. Unfortunately, the home is no longer deemed “historic” because of the many add–ons over time, but the Langstons are determined to maintain the home’s unique history, nonetheless.

Although much of the property was in great shape when they first purchased it, the kitchen was in desperate need of remodeling, said Leila. Redone in the 1970s, the kitchen featured worn–out, old cabinets that were “hanging by a thread.” The Langstons decided to gut the room down to the studs.

“We found a craftsman from Irwindale, Bill Buck, who specialized in old houses,” she said. “He was able to do something that was true to the history of the home, including building cabinet doors that are inset – the mark of high craftsmanship. We installed marble countertops to enhance the old look.”

Leila says that the home, built in 1888, was physically moved to North Shaffer in 1922 from a place of unknown origin. In the 1950s, the widow of William Hart – a prominent Old Towne resident after whom the Hart Park is named – lived in the home for almost nine years. In 1972, Jack Selman purchased the home and the property behind it, removing 50 feet from the other home so that he could expand the North Shaffer house. Subsequent owners made continuing additions to the house, including Laren Gartner and Edna Bayliff, founders of

Citrus City Grille, who favored the color red in their paint choices.

“We still find bits of red paint here and there,” Leila said.

During their remodeling process, the Langston discovered layers of history, especially in the living room where they uncovered the original Douglas fir flooring from the 1880s.

“We removed some newer wood flooring that had been put on top of it, and then we had to scrap off layers of sticky, gooey paint. There was a checkerboard pattern, and underneath that, many more layers of paint. When we took up the floor in the living room, we could see where the original wall once was.”

Leila says that after they moved in, the entire home needed upgrades, so they installed new heating and air conditioning, as well as updated the electrical. They also decided to leave much of the modern additions intact, including the incredibly fancy tile in the bathrooms. In one bathroom, the tiles with iris designs even extend to the shower, which also features stained–glass panels depicting irises in the door.

“I would have never chosen it myself, but for some reason it works,” Leila said. “Everything is big and impressive about this house, including the fancy fixtures and the two–story fireplace with an ornate wood carving that fits the high ceilings.”

The couple’s interior design choices focus on local artists. In the family room, Native American themes take center stage, highlighted by the work of artist and family friend Frank Zamora. Watercolors by their daughter grace the walls in the dining room, master bedroom and kitchen. The living room showcases California impressionist landscapes by Dori Dewberry.

Outside, the Langstons installed traditional brick on the patio, walkway and driveway. Featuring an exterior and private interior yard, the property offers plenty of space for family gatherings.

“We like to spend time on the patio,” Leila said. “Whenever we have guests, it seems like we always end up on the patio.”

Both retired, Jim and Leila enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Old Towne Orange. As a designer, Jim found plenty to appreciate about their new home. For 15 years, Leila taught elementary school, and for 21 years worked for a publishing company writing children’s textbooks. She loves to garden, read and study history.

For the Langstons, the best thing about living in Old Towne is being able to walk everywhere, including to church, the drug store, the post office, and especially the library, which is right across the street.

Leila also enjoys walking with a neighbor and marveling at all the cute homes and flower gardens in Old Towne.

And speaking of neighbors, by coincidence, the Langston’s next–door neighbor, just happened to be their gardener 25 years ago when they lived in Villa Park.

“He was a teenage kid then, and now he’s all grown up with four daughters! It’s nice having good history with people.”

Old Towne Property

Leila and Jim Langston relax on the upstairs deck that overlooks their Old Towne neighborhood on North Shaffer. Leila says that two neighborhood cats, Casey and Bootsie, enjoy the deck too. “You can usually find at least one of them asleep on the lounge chair on nice, sunny days,” she said.

Old Towne Property

Published in the May/Jun 2011 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Karen Anderson, Photograph by Will Hare

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