LOS ANGELES — Perched on a rock, steps away from the gentle waves licking at the shore of Santa Barbara, 20-year-old Michael Jimenez allowed his eyes to wander up an oceanfront cliff, to a majestic estate nestled in a grove of cypress and eucalyptus trees. He shuddered.

For decades, legend has swirled around the manor known as Bellosguardo, where every blade of grass seemed to be in place, but no one ever seemed to be home. Among young people like Jimenez, who grew up here, there were whispers about an abandoned orphan, about spirits from the nearby cemetery. You’ve heard the ancient legend of the girl who was born with every privilege, but cursed with the face of a pig?

“It’s got to be something like that,” Jimenez said. “Nobody’s going up there.”