TODOS SANTOS, MEXICO — The house known as Casa Dracula is the largest, most famous and one of the oddest-looking residences in this beach town near the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, a favorite among both Mexican tourists and expatriates.
Built in 1852, Casa Dracula was given its name by a group of Californian filmmakers and writers who bought the property in 1985 and turned it into a vacation retreat.
Built in 1852 by Antonio Domíngues, a businessman who made his fortune with sugar cane, the house was given the name by a group of Californian filmmakers and writers who bought the property in 1985 and turned it into a vacation retreat.
“Long before the ‘Norteamericanos’ purchased the house,” the imposing, uninhabited structure — with bats flittering in and out of its high gothic windows at dusk — “acquired a reputation as the local haunted house,” said Rex Weiner, a writer and co-owner of the house.
The other owners are Gordon Chaplin, a novelist; Éva Gardos, who wrote and directed the movie “American Rhapsody”; and Page Sciotto and Ashley Hair, are the descendants of Susan Cooper.
Before his group bought the house, Mr. Weiner said, a geological survey team sent by the Mexican government had occupied the house, apparently in search of rumored hidden treasure. “They had a helicopter parked in the back,” Mr. Weiner said. “When they failed to find gold and the money ran out, the chopper disappeared. Soon the team followed. A couple of years later we moved in.”
The 465-square-meter, or about 5,000-square-foot, home sits on about 1,000 square meters of land, which the owners’ group bought for about $100,000. They now have listed the property for sale at $3.5 million.
Mr. Weiner said his group had made improvements over the years, including replacing the upstairs floors. They also inserted a support beam under the cement roof, placed a rain-resistant skin over it and installed a gutter under the eaves. The addition of an upstairs bathroom was the only major change, which cost about $15,000.
Casa Dracula was built from adobe brick. The roof beams were cut from black palms, harvested more than a century ago in the nearby mountains and naturally termite resistant. The two-story structure has four bedrooms under its 4.3-meter, or 14-foot, ceilings.
On the top floor, there are three bedrooms, a foyer, a salon and a bathroom. Two of the upstairs bedrooms are large, rustic spaces with thick exposed beams supporting the ceilings. There are views of the Sierra de La Laguna Mountains to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The water is a 10-minute walk away, though the sound of the surf reaches the house.
The ground floor has two large, multifunctional rooms that have been used as a showroom for a furniture importer, an art gallery and, once in a while, to project movies. A palm tree shades the outdoor courtyard, where there is a large dining table. A separate structure includes a kitchen and bedroom. A grove of fruit trees, including mango, papaya and lime, is on the property.
Mr. Weiner noted that Todos Santos had changed slowly, but significantly, since he and his friends bought the house.
“Only recently has the street outside Casa Dracula been paved and a new street sign erected,” he said. “Spanish used to be the only language in town. But now in the markets, on the beaches and around taco stands you hear French, German, and Italian, in addition to English, due to the sizable expatriate community that has settled in.”