Part I: Man of Yesterday...
Like millions of Americans, family man Peter Trepp has an Audi Q7 SUV parked in his driveway. However, it’s his other car that has heads turning...
The Pacific Palisades resident is one of only 450 Americans (#111, to be exact) driving the prototypical Mini E, the electric version of BMW’s popular Mini Cooper.
“I saw the car at the L.A. Auto Show in November 2008,” Trepp told the Pacific Palisades Patch. “I learned there was an application process. I thought to myself, Why not?”
Since May 2009, Trepp has been tooling around the Palisades in his EV, which he re-charges in his garage (instead of a gas tank on the rear-side of his Mini E, there's an electric plug) and uses to commute to work or ride with his son to the Ralphs on Sunset and Carey.
Trepp is no stranger to recycling. In November 2009, Trepp had Verengo Solar install 28 panels that generates 6.5 kilowatts of electricity in his historic Spanish colonial-style house, which, like his vehicle, is a head-turner. Yes, even the Trepps’ home itself, in the heart of the Huntington Palisades, has been re-purposed.
Shortly after buying the home in 2005, he and his wife, Suzanne, learned that the core section of their house, built in 1928, was originally the office for the Santa Monica Land and Water Company, which sold property and water rights throughout what is today Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Santa Monica, and Brentwood. As head of Land and Water Robert Gillis, developed the pocket in between Santa Monica Canyon and Pacific Palisades that is today known as the Huntington. The office became incorporated into a residence in the 1950s. Two decades later, the house was expanded and renovated.
College sweethearts who met as business majors at UCLA, the Trepps married in 2000. They moved to the Huntington house from Marina del Rey in August 2005, and today, the Trepps share the home with their children, William, 8, and Phillip, 6.
When the Trepps made an offer on the house, the previous owners Larry and Gloria Dunn, informed them that they had resisted selling the house to developers, and they sold the Trepps the home on the condition that they wold not tear it down. The Trepps, who had no intention of eviscerating the charm of the Spanish colonial home, agreed, and, aside from installing solar panels and LEDs to generate electricity, redoing the patio, and adding some decorative touches to the interior, they left the edifice largely untouched. What is today Trepps' foyer, living room, sitting room and library (now attached to the master bedroom) comprised the original office. The foyer’s rotunda with the original hand-carved wooden beams, two iron-crafted wall sconces created by Forge Craft. The living room and sitting room have the original dark wooden floors and iron wall sconces. A bathroom and the two bedrooms belonging were once a three-car garage that has since been converted into the bedroom for the Trepps' boys.
Since moving to the Palisades, Peter and Suzanne have become an active part of the Palisades community. Peter serves as a board member at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA. Suzanne, who works in Pasadena as a money manager at Western Asset Management, is a member of the Palisades Junior Women's Club (PJWC) and serves on the Pacific Palisades Library Association board.
Last fall, San Diego-based author Jan Loomis met the Trepps when she came to the Palisades Library to promote her Arcadia Images of America book on Pacific Palisades. Loomis, who married to the grandson of Arthur Loomis, donated to the Trepps a photo of their house taken the year it was built. The Trepps discovered that their house’s exterior had remained intact, resembling the former Santa Monica Land and Water office building down to its three arches and the configuration of olive and palm trees lining their circular driveway. To add an exclamation point to that discovery, Peter restored the Land and Water Company sign (a recreation of the original) on the wall’s exterior near the entrance of his home.
The Trepps invited a curator and a tile expert from the Adamson House, which features decorative tile from the legendary Malibu Tile Company, to examine the orange-and-blue tile in their rotunda area. The Trepps learned that the vintage tiles came from Davies and McDonald, a short-lived manufacturer that only existed at the beginning of the Great Depression.
In September 2009, at a fundraiser for the La Senora Research Institute in Santa Monica Canyon, a facility that provides education about the early California rancho era, the Trepps met Sharon Reyes-Siebuhr and Ernest Marquez, descendants of the Reyes and Marquez families, respectively, who lived in the 19th century on the land that later became Pacific Palisades. (Last fall, the Trepps hosted the PJWC’s 75th anniversary party at their historic abode.)
The Trepps have not only embraced the history of their property, they’ve brought history full circle to their doorstep. Marquez signed the historical books he authored, about Santa Monica Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, in the Trepps’ backyard during the 2010 PJWC home tour.
Friday: Part II of II will take an in-depth look at Trepp's adventures with the Mini E, as well as where BMW's pioneer program has been and where it's going...