From the

The former hunting retreat that Southern California Edison’s first president, John Barnes Miller, built around 1918 is for sale in unincorporated Claremont, listed for $3.5 million.

Three miles up Webb Canyon Road, Trails End Ranch offers a rare glimpse of early California from its nearly 51 wilderness acres, which include live oak, scrub oak, redwood, olive, peach and pepper trees, to name a few.

Although the single-level U-shaped, hacienda-style home was built before Los Angeles County started tracking building permits, a 1918 announcement by Southern California Edison said the company would construct a number of rustic redwood residences. “It is highly likely that Miller’s retreat was one of these houses,” said Tim Gregory of Pasadena-based Building Biographer.

Trails End caught the eye of plein-air artist John Gamble, whose oil-on-canvas depiction in 1929 is on exhibit at Laguna Beach’s Redfern Gallery.

For more than a decade, current owners Laura and Tom Miller (no relation to the ranch’s original owner) have made extensive improvements to the main house, the two guesthouses and the property’s infrastructure.

A 20-by-40-foot living room still has the original dark-stained clear-cut Douglas fir walls and beams. A burgundy carpet, together with a Canadian moose head — estimated to be nearly 100 years old — mounted above the stone fireplace, gives the room an authentic hunting lodge feel.

A sitting room off the living room was once a mudroom. The master bedroom was added after the home was built. The Millers gutted and remodeled the master bathroom and installed custom cabinetry, hammered-copper sinks and handmade tiles on the counter to retain the period look.

A guest suite and bathroom were designed in a pheasant theme with the sink and backsplash adorned in birds. The theme is a testimonial to the large number of species that can be observed from the property and a reminder that John B. Miller and his colleagues were serious hunters.

A retired accountant, Tom Miller has become an engineer since purchasing the property 12 years ago. He had 126 photovoltaic (solar) panels installed in 2004, which deliver power to all three structures. “For the main house, we paid $447 for the 12 months ending April 2010,” Miller said.

A 16,000-gallon reservoir came with the property, and he added two additional 10,000-gallon water tanks. Miller controls the amount of potable water coming into the tanks using a pump system.

Two additional hydrants were added to make water more accessible in case of a fire.

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The 1960s cement pool, its decking and equipment have been recently upgraded as well. After evidence of a black bear was found in the pool one day, Tom Miller reinforced the gates. “That’s part of the beauty of living on this ranch,” Laura Miller said. “We share it with lots of wildlife.”

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