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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Carmel House and Garden Tour 2012 (Hugh Comstock)


"Unless the Lord build the house,
they labor in vain who build."  Psalm 127:1

Carmel House & Garden Tour 2012
We could not have asked for a more glorious day as my friend and I set out for an afternoon of walking, admiring, laughing, enjoying and re-bonding.  In four hours we would tour seven homes on the 2012 Carmel House & Garden Tour benefiting the Carmel Heritage Society.  

Hugh Comstock
Carmel's Builder of Dreams
Two of the homes on our tour were built by Hugh Comstock, Hansel located on Torres Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, and Curtain Call, Junipero and Third.
"Hugh Comstock developed the Fairy Tale style of architercture with which Carmel has become closely identified.  Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1893, Comstock moved to Santa Rosa with his family in 1907. In 1924, he came to Carmel to visit his sister and met and married Mayotta Brown.  The two decided to remain in Carmel as Mayotta had a successful doll making business.  Comstock's career as a designer-builder began when his wife asked him to build a cottage for her dolls.  The "Doll's House" became the first of many Fairy Tale style cottages he would design and build." (Historic Context Statement Carmel-by-the-Sea, page 96)
Hansel
Block 60 Lot 10
Hansel is a one-and one-half story wood-framed Tudor "Storybook" style residence constructed in 1924, irregular in plan, on a concrete foundation, with exterior walls constructed with cement plaster mixed with pine needles placed over burlap that was nailed to the redwood walls. 
The outside this home is one of the most photographed in the Village, the inside however is another matter altogether. Built in a "Folk Tutor" style, by Hugh Comstock for his wife Mayotta, the Carmel Building Department records this structure costing $100 to build, "without labor" in August 1924.

In this 244 square foot cottage, Mayotta displayed her dolls, so that buyers could view them "in their own environment," a fairytale style house in the woods.
 
Hugh Comstock had no formal training in building, design or architecture, yet he built such a detailed little fairy book style cottage in Hansel, with a pointy steeply pitched roof covered in irregularly shaped cedar shingles "jig and scroll-sawn into a random staggered pattern", round Dutch front door of rough planks joined together with two wrought iron braces, a lopsided chalkstone fireplace reminiscent of an elfin hat when viewed from the inside living area, and uneven hand-hewn casings and moldings and doors and windows, that everyone wanted a Doll House of their own.  He would go on to build around thirty or so individual designs in Carmel Village, with 21 still in existence.

      Behind the crooked grape stake fence,

      beyond the gate, pass the Carmel Stone patio
                                              

complete with potbelly stove,
                       duck under the sprawling limb of an old oak tree
                                   with assortment of bird houses,
         
pass by beds of tall flowers,
an unusual patch of lawn,
and enter Hansel.
                                                   
                            

Renovated in 1993 by Congleton Architects, this cottage now measures a whopping 290 square feet. Every inch has a purpose. 

The bookcase at the entrance is a facade, made to look like old dusty books, but open sesame to find the mechanics for the entertainment center.
From the front door look left to the master bedroom (large enough for a twin bed), then center to the loft ladder, and right to the kitchen.
Off the master is the bathroom.
  
A better view of the bathroom is from the backyard through the window. From here there is also a view of the Carmel Stone fireplace in the living room.
From the backyard we have a glimpse of the tiny kitchen spice rack and cute itsy bitsy shed with pine tree cut out.
 
Curtain Call & Second Act
Block 27/ Junipero & 3rd 

Curtain Call is also a one-and-one half story, wood-framed, "Storybook" style residence, irregular in plan on a concrete foundation, but this time Mr. Comstock would mix it up a bit making the exterior walls of textured stucco.

The cottage was built in 1929 for Ms. Bertha L. Bowen. The name "Curtain Call" was given the cottage in the mid 1940s by another owner, Constance Ferris.  Ms. Ferris a San Francisco journalist named her home after the title of one of her books of short poems which were adapted for the stage, "Curtain Calls."

The current owner of this home meets the tour guests at the front gate.  She has graciously opened her charming historical cottage to the public, along with Second Act, the garage, that has just recently been renovated and restored. 
                         
The floor plan for Curtain Call is two parallel gabled wings, separated by a "hyphen" or hall that serves as the entry, topped by dormers and Comstock's signature steep pitched roof. 

Off the right wing facing east is a wooden deck with decorative "splat" railing.

Off the entrance in the left wing is an uncharacteristically large (for a Comstock) kitchen/dining area.  The best part - the view out the window to the Carmel Stone built in fireplace and through the oak, pine, and cypress to Pebble Beach and beyond!




When outside looking back into the kitchen/dining - WOW
The right wing houses the bedroom/study, bathroom and comfortable living area with high open beam ceiling and a Hugh Comstock fireplace.
One-half flight of stairs leads to a loft above the living area.

Walk outside the right wing to a second cozy patio with an equally incredible view through the forest to Carmel Bay and Pebble.


A double plus lot, allows for a charming garden
with exuberant and colorful Hydrangeas and Dahlias 

While Curtain Call sits back on the lot, Second Act, formerly the old garage, sits close to the front gate.  Here the original Carmel Stone interior has been flipped to the outside. 

 The inside is the ideal in-law apartment
or guest house with studio bedroom plus loft,
reminiscent of Hansel,
sitting area,
bathroom,
and fully appointed kitchen
                        with a hidden refrigerator (it is in the picture).

Next up, two homes of Michael J. Murphy.

___
Black and White Photos courtesy of Pat Hathaway, Historic California Views and Monterey Public Library,California History Room Archives









 
 


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