He built a house that was a replica of his home from Cuba. Arnaz designed the 4,400-square-foot, Spanish-style home himself. He grew up in a wealthy family in Cuba, so the house reflected that. His dad was mayor back in Santiago and a member of the Cuban House of Representatives. Arnaz’s new house sat on a hill and had a panoramic view of his property, which included his horse-breeding farm. This was in Eastvale, Calif. At the time, it was an unincorporated area in Riverside County near Los Angeles.
Arnaz had this inscription above the front door:
Benvenidos a la casa de Don Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III . That translated to “Welcome to the home of Mr. Desiderio Alberto Arnaz and of Acha III.”
Arnaz Kids Loved Visiting Horse Ranch
Desi Arnaz Jr., the only son of Desi and Lucy, loved visiting the ranch. He and his sister, Lucie, spent weekdays with their mother in Los Angeles and weekends at their dad’s horse ranch.
Arnaz Jr. told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that he thought his dad wanted to reimagine his childhood in Cuba. Plus, the kids had room to roam. There were huge holiday get-togethers, featuring guests like Bing Crosby and Jimmy Durante. Plus, cast members from “I Love Lucy” would visit.
“I had horses and go karts,” Arnaz Jr. said. “Back then we were the only people out there. It used to be all horses and cattle farms. It was fun.”
Arnaz also said: “He loved animals and he loved nature. One of the great things my father gave to me is an appreciation of nature. He’d look at a sunset and say, ‘God really outdid himself.’”
Local Businessman Saved Desi Arnaz Home
The elder Arnaz died in 1986. He’d already dissolved his horse breeding business. But the house still was on the property. Bert Altfillisch’s assignment was to demo the property and clear the way for a cheese factory. So Altfillisch saved the home divided into three sections and moved it to his property across town. Altfillisch bred and trained race horses.
Altfillisch died in 2006. His son inherited the home. By 2012, most of the property was set to be developed for residential homes. But Altfillisch stipulated that the house could not be torn down. Jurapa Community Services, as part of the Santa Ana River Trail Extension Project, bought the home in 2015 for $2.5 million.
It’s still being renovated. Richard Welch, director of the city’s Parks and Community Affairs Director, told the CBS affiliate:
“It is one of the few things left in Eastvale with some history to it.”
The Desi Arnaz home is in Phase 2 of the renovation project.
Once it’s finished, the home will be used for a variety of community events, including weddings. And all will know about the original owner, Desi Arnaz.