"Maps to the Stars Homes" can be purchased on any street corner in Hollywood, and tour companies make a living driving bus loads of people past celebrities' houses. But there are very few stars' homes which allow visitors inside the gates for a public tour, and only one such estate which was owned by a living superstar.
Yes, you can now tour Barbra Streisand's former ranch estate in the hills above Malibu.
Ms. Streisand's $12 million estate consists of 22 1/2 lushly-landscaped acres accented with sycamore, oak, walnut and pine trees, picturesque bridges and gardens, and a stream flowing through the property.
Barbra abandoned the estate following a particularly rough season of fires and floods in Malibu (the compound was on the market for five years before she opted to donate it to the Conservancy.) But the bad weather wasn't enough to keep her away from the area - she recently bought another home in Malibu.
But a peek at Hollywood glamour doesn't come cheap. The 90-minute tour of the estate and tea on the patio costs a steep $30 per person. But even at that price, there is still a waiting list of people to take the tour. (Due to complaints from their wealthy neighbors, the Conservancy is obligated to limit the number of visitors - yet they need the income to maintain the large estate - which explains the high admission fee.)
Barbra maintained five very different homes on the compound:
These five homes are surrounded by lushly landscaped meadows, featuring flowering fruit trees, colorful gardens, stone walls, brick walkways, picturesque bridges and bubbling streams. You might even spot an occasional deer.
But don't expect to see Ms. Streisand's furniture. While you can still glimpse Barbra's hot tub in the Deco House, and her espresso-maker and stove in the Peach House, she took most of the furnishings with her when she moved out.
Tours are given only on Wednesdays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and only by advance reservation (along with that $30 price of admission.) The tour consists of an hour and a half docent-led walk through the Barn, the Peach House, the Art Deco House and the grounds, followed by "a leisurely tea with scones and shortbread" on the patio of "The Barn." For more information contact Marsha Feldman at (310) 589-2850 ext. 144.
Want to get married in Barbra's back yard? You can do that too. The Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies (as it is now known) also offers the estate's gardens & meadow for wedding rentals.
Interestingly enough, Barbra has recently asked the conservancy to take her name off the estate. It seems that she intended it to be used as "a small conference center for scientists, academics and environmentalists," and she objects to it being opened to tourists as a semi-public park. In January of 2000, she said in a statement, "I am not in agreement with the proposed use of the land, my name will no longer be affiliated with the property.''
But while her name may be off the official title of the property, its history remains the same, and tourists will no doubt keep flocking to see Barbra's former estate.
Getting there: the gated, 22 1/2 acre compound is located in remote Ramirez Canyon in Malibu, in the hills above Point Dume (a few miles west of the Malibu Pier and the Malibu Colony.) To reach the estate, you drive down a bumpy private road with 11 speed bumps and ford two different streams. But the estate is open to visitors by advance appointment only, and only on Wednesdays. And they encourage car pooling. Phone the Conservancy for reservations and exact directions to the estate.
[You can watch a video tour of the former estate at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8VsNdP5Dvc.]
[Or see more photos of the Streisand Estate at http://members.aol.com/bjsreunion/thirdway.html.]
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