This House Puts the Fun in Funicular

Funicular: a grade-separated fixed guideway transit system powered by a cable traction designed for steep inclines. A funicular uses two counterbalanced passenger cars attached to the opposite ends of a cable, which is looped over a pulley at the upper end of the track.

A funicular’s two cars move in concert: as one ascends, the other descends simultaneously, an arrangement that distinguishes a funicular from other cable-guided transportation systems — e.g., a single-car inclined elevator.

I saw my first funicular while I was going to school in Pittsburgh. The city has two inclines going from the top of Mt. Washington to the river below. It’s a pretty cool form of transportation. Here’s a short video if you’ve never seen one:

So based on my limited experience, I just assumed funiculars were just another form of public transit. I would have never guessed that individual homeowners might have one.

Well that guess would have been wrong.

In the Mansion section of the WSJ, there was a story about a home in Malibu, once owned by singer Kenny Rogers, that was for sale. Perhaps its most unique feature is that it has its own funicular.

To me, that does not look like a classic funicular, as defined at the beginning of this post, by Wikipedia. I only see one cable car. So it’s more like a single-car inclined elevator; but funicular sounds much better.

The house was once owned by the late country singer Kenny Rogers. Mr. Rogers, who owned the house in the 1980s, installed the funicular only to be slapped with a $2 million fine from local authorities, according to his wife, Wanda Rogers. “Kenny had no idea he was going to get in so much trouble,” Ms. Rogers said when reached by phone.

Sitting on nearly 3 acres, the five-bedroom main house is located on a single level with vaulted ceilings, herringbone floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the gardens. At the entryway, a wall of frosted privacy glass turns transparent at the touch of a button, revealing an office and study, a large patio and lawn and views of the ocean. The property also has a dance studio and a recording studio.

The grounds also include a three-bedroom guesthouse, a swimming pool, a waterfall and koi pond, a sports court and a guard house. Residents and guests can use the funicular or adjacent steps to access the property’s large oceanfront cabana, which has retractable ceilings, a wet bar, a built-in barbecue and fire pit.

Here’s where the funicular brings you when get to the bottom:

If the property appeals to you, it’s all yours.

For the bargain price of $125 million.

I guess funiculars are expensive…



45 thoughts on “This House Puts the Fun in Funicular

      1. What a good idea! Yes, you should do that! I decided you could buy the house. 🙂 Will be looking for an invitation to the convention!


  1. $125 million ha ha ha…. Sorry. I know it is LA but I still can’t imagine it. I’m sure the cabana alone would cost more than I could dream of. I think the funicular would add to the property value though. Without it getting to the beach would be challenging and downright dangerous after a couple of cold ones.

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    1. It seems like a simple slide could get you down, and then use the step to get back up. It would be good exercise. But I guess if you’ve got the money, a funicular is the way to go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree his elevator does not necessarily meet the definition of a funicular. But when you can buy a home for $125 million, you get to call it whatever you want! Great post, Jim!

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  3. We used to go on one of those when I was a kid. It was in a place called Folkestone, where we moved when my parents divorced. Being Brits we just called it the ‘cliff lift’ though. I took my older daughter on it when she was about 7 – the cranking and screeching noises from the moving parts terrified her! I always enjoyed the sense of excitement at whether the chains would break and we’d all plummet to our deaths 😉

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  4. I love when Kenny’s wife said, ‘he didn’t know he was going to get in so much trouble for this.’ I’m guessing there must have been a permit or two pulled when building this, and perhaps a bit of a warning then? all that being said, wow. my fav feature is the frosted glass wall that turns transparent at the touch of a finger.

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    1. I wonder what came first, the cable cars or funiculars…
      I’ve never been to San Fran, but when I do visit, riding a cable car is a must.

      And a quick calculation, at 4% annual interest and 30 years, your monthly payment would be about $537,000…

      Can you imagine the commission the real estate agent makes on this?

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      1. SF is a definite is must do, Jim. I’ve been a few times for business, but was fortunate to spend some free time taking the cable car down to Pier 39.

        Pro-Tip: Do not try to take a Selfie while grabbing on to a bar hanging out laterally …

        Thanks for the quick mortgage calculation. I’d be short about $535K the first month. 🙂

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  5. I also laughed at the comment from Kenny Rogers’s wife. “Kenny had no idea he was going to get into so much trouble.” Sounds like the opening line of a novel—”Borden had no idea he was going to get into so much trouble when he started a blog.”

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    1. I am surprised that the Wall Street Journal hasn’t come after me for sharing so many of their stories. They probably know I don’t have $2 million to pay as a penalty…

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  6. just made me blush…haha…The house of my dreams I suppose a girl has to the cabana but the touch to change the glass and view window…wow…


  7. Years ago, I was in Pittsburgh near the old Three Rivers Stadium. I was intrigued with the funicular operating on the other side of the river. I appreciate learning more about it.

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