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Inside California’s ‘Butterfly House’ listed for $998K

If Lisa Frank were to vomit the color wheel all over a house — you’d have 309 Ninth St. This eye-grabbing property, nicknamed the P.G. — because it’s in Pacific Grove, California — Butterfly House stands out so much, it has its own entry in Atlas Obscura.

And now, it’s listed for sale. The asking price for the two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,334-square-foot house adorned with hundreds of butterflies: $998,000.

It’s a steal considering Zillow’s “Zestimate” is $1.02 million. Or it’s a scam considering the property was purchased for $37,500 in 1977 — about $191,000 today.

Granted, the house was just an ugly little caterpillar at that point. When the original owners, J and Sonja Jackson, purchased it, it was in such poor condition that the floor collapsed one day while J was washing dishes in the kitchen. Fed up with living in an abode that was falling apart, the retired school counselor took a hammer to the house and brought it down to its studs so he could rebuild it himself.

Multiple butterflies adorn the home's bright exterior.
Multiple butterflies adorn the home’s bright exterior.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
Even the garage comes decked out in butterfly patterns and bright hues.
Even the garage comes decked out in butterfly patterns and bright hues.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
A foyer leads inside.
A foyer leads inside.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA

The metamorphosis into the cozy cottage it is today took nearly two decades. J started decorating the house in the 1990s when Sonja, the secretary of the Blind & Visually Impaired Center of Monterey County, began suffering from a degenerative eye disease. Despite the fact she was losing her eyesight, they discovered she could still see bright colors. J immediately went out and bought the brightest paints he could find.

Thanks to Sherwin Williams, and her husband’s labor of love, Sonja wasn’t left completely in the dark.

Of course, it’s hard to miss the butterfly theme. Why butterflies? J wanted to pay homage to Pacific Grove’s unofficial mascot: the Monarch butterfly. What’s more, the property — which is just four blocks from the beach — is only a mile away from the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Many of the home’s butterflies were handmade by J in his on-site workshop. He spent an average of six hours a day making them.

Even this bathroom comes with a bold blue tone.
Even this bathroom comes with a bold blue tone.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
More colors that extend inside.
More colors that extend inside.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
A bedroom with a view into its ensuite bathroom.
A bedroom with a view into its ensuite bathroom.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
The kitchen.
The kitchen.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA

Most of the flutter is found on the exterior of the home, where there’s a sign above the two-car garage that reads, “P.G. Butterfly House.” But there are also butterflies to be found in the bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathrooms and basically every living space. If you were to walk through the house and take a drink every time you saw a butterfly, you wouldn’t be able to walk in a straight line.

“I love the eclectic artwork,” said listing agent Arleen Hardenstein of Sotheby’s International Realty – Pacific Grove Brokerage. “One whimsical section flows to another — it’s very sparkly, fun and pretty.” According to Hardenstein, J passed away a few years ago, and Sonja is selling the home because her needs have changed.

Needless to say, prospective buyers have to be either colorblind or a fan of bright colors to live here.

“A buyer has to love this house and be willing to live in a bit of a ‘fishbowl,’ ” said Hardenstein, who factored in the décor when pricing the home. “The P.G. Butterfly House is well known in the community and attracts a fairly constant stream of visitors who are curious to see it.”

A bathroom that doesn't shy from color.
A bathroom that doesn’t shy from color.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
A bright outdoor hangout.
A bright outdoor hangout.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA
Another angle of the exterior.
Another angle of the exterior.
Paul Black, Black Sky Photography, Pacific Grove CA

Naturally, neighbors haven’t always been fans of having a tourist attraction on their street. “I think it looks like a circus,” neighbor Wendy Davies told the Monterey Herald in 2015. “People drive by, some park in front of my house or block my driveway.”

According to J, one such spectator — who came all the way from south of the border — took a photo of the house to hang in his butterfly store in Mexico City.

“It’s amazing how many people drive by, stop, get out of their cars to look at the property and of course take photos [and] selfies,” said Hardenstein, who says they have a lot of eclectic homes on the Monterey Peninsula, but none are as unique and colorful as this one. Fortunately for Hardenstein, it has great bones.

“The home appears to be in good shape, and the interior is very comfortable,” she said.

So far, she’s received an “enormous amount of interest” from all types of prospective buyers who either love the home, love the story behind the home — or both. Haters — or negative Nancies hooked on neutrals — are gonna hate. After all, colorful cocoons aren’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for Lisa Frank personified, good luck finding a more perfect property.

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