By Caitlin Rother
BREAKING NEWS: I'll be signing DEATH ON OCEAN BOULEVARD, my book about this case, on Saturday, March 11 at 1 P.M. at the Barnes & Noble in Escondido, 810 W. Valley Parkway, 92025.
The historic beachfront home known as the Spreckels Mansion has been in the public eye for years, most recently as the site of Rebecca Zahau's controversial death by hanging in 2011.
When I first wrote about the mansion makeover in 2021, chronicling the dramatic changes to what some Coronado locals call "the murder house," it was one of my most popular blog posts.
I'm doing this update now, because the mansion has gone through yet another set of dramatic remodels, so much so that it doesn't even look like the same house, at least to me. You can see the transformation for yourself in the photos below.
In the years after Rebecca's death, I watched as the house went on and off the market, with a sale price between $16.9 million and $17.5 million. In 2020, it was taken off the sale market and was as a monthly rental for $80,000, then $60,000. I later learned that it had not just been taken off the market, but sold -- for $11 million -- right after the COVID shutdown hit back in March 2020.
As I interviewed people about the history of the house itself, I learned that modifications were made to the interior by the people who owned it after Rebecca's boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai, but I could see the changes in the front yard for myself. Six mature palm trees were planted in the front yard, and other landscaping was added behind a new stucco wall and iron gate, which lent it more of a secure feel.
The next set of owners removed and uprooted the recently planted palm trees, and filled the front yard with rocks. This was taken in the late afternoon, so it looks yellowish, but it's actually more cream-colored.
Here it is in 2022, undergoing renovations. Notice the striped awnings and the decorative iron gate are gone. This is a side view:
With a temporary mailbox at the center, which is now gone, and some new paint:
Here's how it looks today:
And here's a historic photo of the house, built originally in 1908, as featured on the cover of my book about the case, DEATH ON OCEAN BOULEVARD: Inside The Coronado Mansion Case. (Click on the title to order.) This is how it used to look, totally open, with no locked gate or wall and a big lawn: