Sometimes the simplest motivation births the grandest results. The impetus that inspired an oversized, award-winning addition of library space to one Baldwin Park home was elementary, really, said the owner.
“I love books,” Jack Schott said.
The new two-story wing provides a maple-lined haven for the Harvard professor’s ample collection, with styling inspired by the Ivy League college’s halls and the old Victorian home Schott grew up in. There are sections for American history – with a predominant predilection for past presidents, particularly Thomas Jefferson – psychology, research, and travel. Hardbacks are upstairs, paperbacks downstairs. On opposing walls lurk Sherlock Holmes-approved hideaways. Remove a painting of a Sherlock Holmes pub off a shelf, and you’ll find a secret handle to free the bookshelf from the wall exposing an extra storage closet. On the other side, a wall within a bathroom hides a secret entrance into the study masked by an oversized mirror. In the middle there’s a fireplace flanked by leather armchairs with a small stuffed hippo nearby standing guard.
“It’s a place where I can put the fire on, sit and have a glass of sherry, and dream about the old days,” Schott said.
Schott worked with the builders, PSG Construction, to make the library of his dreams a reality – and an escape from everyday reality. The library is home to its own kitchenette and full bathroom, so, Schott joked, there’s no reason to leave. The 1,100-square-foot addition won the Grand Award in the 2015 Parade of Homes for excellence in renovation and design. In the far corner of the downstairs sits a desk of the same model as the one where the Treaty of Paris of 1783 was signed. Only six of the desks were made, Schott said. One’s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another is used by the Speaker of the House. And then there’s Schott’s stationed here in Baldwin Park. From that desk, Schott continues his work not only as a Harvard professor teaching a few classes a year at his alma mater, but as a principal and partner for an asset management firm. “I often found that I learned more teaching than being a student. I look forward to teaching still,” Schott said. With nearly 50 years of experience behind the lectern, these days he teaches mostly behavioral finance.
The retired psychiatrist has made a career out of psychoanalyzing the psychology of investing. “I study how individuals function in the market,” he said. “Whether different kinds of people invest in different ways.” “Isn’t everybody fascinated about psychology?” he said with a laugh. “It teaches you how to understand your mind and the minds of other people. Who doesn’t want to know that?”
For nearly a decade, Schott served as a steward of the John Templeton Foundation, which “serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.” Schott roomed with Templeton’s son Jack at Harvard, and became a friend of the family, with Sir John Templeton eventually serving as his mentor.
When Schott is not working on helping solve the world’s big questions, you’ll often find him out on the lawns of Casa Feliz in Winter Park playing croquet, or out on the town with his wife Sally taking in a classical concert or theater performance. Or, these days you’re also likely to find him tucked up in his library brushing up on his Latin or perusing presidential biographies. The space, he said, like life, is still a work in progress. “The goal is to fill up all of the shelves,” he said surveying the wood-paneled room from carpeted bottom to top coffered ceiling, a grin spread wide across his face.Printable PDF Full Story with Photos