Thursday, July 10, 2014

Carmel Heritage Society House and Garden Tour 2014 - Door House and Forge In The Forest

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Door House
Forge In The Forest 

In 1906 Frank Devendorf of the Carmel Development Company was busy meeting the needs of his clients by building homes on the lots he was selling in Carmel. To meet demand for building supplies, Mr. Devendorf arraigned for dismantled houses to be shipped from San Francisco to Monterey. These houses could then be quickly reassembled on lots in Carmel.  

One shipment from San Francisco contained only doors from Victorian houses that had been destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake.  What happened next may prove that age old adage "necessity is the mother of invention."  

John Columbus Stevenson, a widower from San Jose, decided to use the doors and build his family a vacation home.  Using 32 identical solid wood four-panel doors he lined his 22 by 13 square foot house inside and out with doors.

He also built two other houses adjacent to his Door House on Lincoln between Ninth and Tenth, although they were not made from doors. (The Door House is to the right in the picture below).

In the 1920's the Stevenson family sold the house to James and Harriet O'Hara.  From 1937 to 1960 O'Hara family member Janet Carroll and her husband George L. Carroll lived in the home.  Janet was the first post-mistress of Pebble Beach and George owned a store in Carmel.  

The Carroll's deeded the house to their granddaughter, Mrs. Bruce Fergusson, in 1960. The Fergusson's were Carmel retailers.

In 1995 owner Ron Thomas decided to build a bigger house on the property. 

Enid Sales, then president of the Carmel Preservation Foundation, declared that the house was historically significant and should be saved.  Mr. Thomas sold the home to the foundation for $1 and Sheila and Wynne Hutchings provided their lot on Mission between Alta and Vista Avenues for the house.

The Carmel Preservation Foundation hoped to restore the home so that it might be "used for low-income housing, a public facility or a permanent office space for the foundation." (1)  The picture below shows the lot on Lincoln after the Door House was removed. 

Carmel's Planning Commission designated the Door House as an "historical resource" on June 28, 1995. 

The hope to restore the Door House did not materialize, and it remained sitting up on moving blocks for three years at which time, the City threatened to demolish it if it was not moved or restored.  

The current owners of Door House saved it from demolition by agreeing to "adopt" the home and move it to their property.

"The house's "final resting place" will be on the property owned by Dr. Fred Nelson and Dr. Karyl Hall...who have "adopted" this wanderer." (2)

On June 2, 1998 Door House was once again transported through the narrow streets of the forest. 

Today it happily resides having been loving renovated inside and out by its "adoptive parents."  

A miniature replica Door House created by the current owners sister-in-law graces the front garden. 

Inside knotty pine paneling and a quaint kitchen for one have been refreshed and updated.  

The door set in the wall
 of Victorian doors leads to a tiny bathroom.  

Off the kitchen dining area a bedroom with 

 brick fireplace finish off the
 charming 286 square foot cottage. 

A bit farther down the drive way past the Door House sits our last house of the day, Forge in the Forest.

A darling replica of Forge in the Forest, made by the sister-in-law of the owners, acts as a mail box.

The lot on which Forge In The Forest resides was purchased in November 1923 by Edna M. Sheridan from the Del Monte Properties Company for $10 in gold coin.  The original house (shown in the picture below) is believed to have been built around 1926.  

John C. Catlin 

John C. Catlin was born in 1870 in Sacramento.  His father Judge A. P. Catlin a member of the State Senate in 1854 designed the legislation that established the present site of the State Capital in Sacramento.  John followed in his fathers footsteps and studied law, practicing for 30 years before he grew bored and decided to take a year off and travel in Mexico.

Before he arrived in Mexico he stopped in Carmel and ran into an old friend Garnet Holme who was putting on a play in Santa Cruz.  Holme asked Catlin for some help. Catlin ended up never going to Mexico but settling in Carmel that same year, 1922. 

Though it is not known when Carmel's "Famed Blacksmith Mayor" (mayor from 1932-1934) John C. Catlin moved into Forge In The Forest, it is known that he lived in this house until he died in 1951.

Mr. Catlin never went back to the practice of law.  He found much more satisfaction in his creative outlets such as stone carving, drawing, and blacksmithing. 

In 1923 he established "The Forge In The Forest" for Blacksmithing and Horseshoeing at Juniper and Fifth. The old forge is now home to the restaurant Forge In The Forest. 

Mr. Catlin also had a small forge in the garage of his home. 

The decorative gate to the right of the garage door is some of his work. 

He is also responsible
 for much of the stone work
 on the property.  

Master blacksmith Francis Whitaker worked alongside Mr. Catlin in his garage forge and his forge on Junipero. In 1948 Catlin would sell the forge on Junipero to Whitaker. 

Both men felt their metal work should not only be functional but decorative.  Mr. Whitaker's work is also found on the property. The side gate


and boot cleaner at the base of the stairs as well as interior sconces and candelabra are his work. 

The current owners, who purchased this property in 1990, added to the eastern elevation.  

The addition appears seamless to the original structure. 

Here are a few more highlights. 

Part 1 - First Murphy House, Los Abuelos, and Studio for Florence Lockwood
Part 2 - The Fields' House and Walker Home by Frank Lloyd Wright House

(1) Wolf, Paul. "Early Carmel Home's fate in limbo." Carmel Pine Cone, May 1, 1995.
(2) Press Release, "Door House, Finally, To Move Again." Carmel Preservation Foundation, May 28, 1998.


All photographs by L. A. Momboisse unless otherwise noted below: 

Following Photographs courtesy of home owners of Door House and Forge in the Forest: 
- Photograph of John Columbus Stevenson.
- Black and white photo of Door House with two women (one possibly daughter of Stevenson) c. 1906 - 1909.
- Black and white photo of Door House with second house possibly built by Stevenson.
-Black and white photo of Door House on Lincoln.
-Color picture of lot on Lincoln after Door House moved.
-Color picture of Door House on blocks at second location on Mission.
- Color picture of Door House being moved to final location on Pescadero.
- Color picture of Forge In The Forest before addition.   

Carmel Heritage Society House and Garden Tour 2014 - The Fields' Home and Walker House by Frank Lloyd Wright

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The Fields' Home
Hatton Fields

Nastovic a builder to the Russian aristocracy and Nicholas II fled Russia after the Revolution in 1917.

In the early 1920's Nastovic probably found the newly incorporated village of Carmel-by-the-Sea very attractive. The Carmel Development Company had sold many lots but they were in need of homes.  Michael J. Murphy and Hugh Comstock had already established themselves as master-builders, but there was room for one more.  

On June 15, 1926, the Pine Cone reported, "Six houses to go up in Hatton Fields at once, designed by A. Nastovic the man who was famous for the monument of Alexander III in Moscow."  

In the aerial photo above taken sometime in the 1940's, one of those houses, the Fields' Home can be seen...

to the left of what is said to have been the beginnings of a "fast food" restaurant which never came to be. 

Nastovic's 1927 construction in French Normandy style remains very authentic to this day.

The Carmel Stone entrance,

all windows and doors (except for one
 in the first floor dining area) are original.

Nastovic incorporated unique architectural features in his home.  Most distinctive are the "Z Doors." In fact The Fields' Home has 28 of them.  

These "Z Door's" were made with Douglas fir planks overlaid with more Douglas fir planks in the shape of a Z.  All held together with metal pegs.  

Another unique element found in this home is the use of the Gothic arch, 

which is found repeated throughout the great room,

 even the 55 inch wide fireplace and
niche above contain this element.

The only significant interior renovation made to Nastovic's original plan was the removal of a wall between the living area and the kitchen.  (This wall can be seen below in a "before" picture.)

With the wall gone the downstairs living area 

becomes a very inviting great room.  

There many more charming elements to The Fields' Home, like the third floor turret room. 


which the owners refer
to as Rapunzel's Room.  

The turret room, decorated with vintage hats and hat boxes does bring to mind those words from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair,  

so that I may climb the golden stair." 

Mr. Nastovic built at least six homes in the Hatton Fields area of Carmel during the late 1920's. These homes found in a cluster around Seventh and Hatton are easily identified by their prominent "Z Door."   Unfortunately the depression brought Nastovic's building career of these stately homes in Carmel to an end.   

The Cabin on the Rocks
Walker House
by Frank Lloyd Wright 

In 1918, Mr. and Mrs. Willis J. Walker, San Francisco socialites, purchased 216 acres of land for $150,000 from John Martin (Mission Ranch).

The Walkers subdivided the land into what they called the Walker Track, and sold  many of the lots.  But the ocean front acreage was deeded to Mrs. Walker's sister Clinton Della Walker.

"Della Walker was a childhood friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, and when she asked him to design a seaside house for her, he was 84 years old.  He didn't know that, so he accepted the challenge (his only ocean house), and personally supervised its construction... 

"Make it low," said Della, "so my neighbors' views will not be interrupted."  He did that, and now the prow of the house, on Scenic Drive near Martin Way, drives ceaselessly into the waves that buffet Carmel Bay. 

It is designed like an ocean liner, facing the tireless sea. 

The living room, slightly sunken, looks across the deck through stepped-down windows, like a Captain's bridge." (1)

"I want a house," Mrs. Clinton Della Walker wrote to her old friend and architect Frank Lloyd Wright, "as durable as the rocks...

and as transparent as the waves.

Her phrase captured Wright's imagination. For almost five years the octogenarian "dean" of American architects worked on and off on Mrs. Walker's challenge. 

The result was a home that, since its completion in 1952 has been one of the show places of the Monterey Peninsula." (2)

"In the design, Wright wholly departed from the conventional four-cornered concept of rooms.  There isn't a square corner in the house. 

The culmination of this dynamic approach is in the hexagonal living room...the stepped-out windows, leading up to the wide roof overhang...the home's construction is of Carmel stone, supplemented by cedar plywood on interior walls and ceilings.  This wood came from the mills of Mrs. Walker's son in Susanville...Heating is by radiant floor units...built-in furniture includes...a couch along the living room view windows...Mrs. Walker added only a few pieces...such as the Japanese fish net balls." (3) 

Mrs. Walker was also responsible for the Mermaid Sculpture on the deck. 

How much did the house cost?  This is a question Mrs. Walker says she can't answer because she didn't really keep track of it.  She says, however that it is insured for $25,000, "which I think is enough." (4)   

" Della doesn't live there any more, but the house will last forever." (5)

Here are a few more highlights. 

Part 3 - Door House and Forge In the Forest
Part 1 - First Murphy House, Los Abuelos, and Studio for Florence Lockwood

(1) Smith, Al. "Carmel Legends."  Carmel Pine Cone, (June 13 - 19, 2014), Section RE p. 2.
Hall, Thorne. Editor, Publisher, Owner. "Houses of Distinction-Frank Lloyd Wright's Blend of Stone and Sea on Carmel Beach." Carmel Pacific Spectator Journal, September 1957.(3) Ibid.
(4) Ibid.
(5) Ibid. Smith, A. "Carmel Legends."


All photographs by L. A. Momboisse unless otherwise noted below: 

- Black and white areal photo c. 1940 of Fields house, courtesy of the home owners.  
-  Color picture of the Fields living room before renovation courtesy of home owners.  
- First two black and white photos of Walker House - Hall, Thorne. Editor, Publisher, Owner. "Houses of Distinction-Frank Lloyd Wright's Blend of Stone and Sea on Carmel Beach." Carmel Pacific Spectator Journal, September 1957.
- Black and white photo of Della Walker, courtesy of Della's great-grandson.