Carmel Heritage Society Centennial Year House and Garden Tour 2016 - Part 1 - The Dunes, First Brick House, Greene Studio, Villa Scimmia

Carmel Heritage Society's Centennial Year House and Garden Tour was an other successful event. Thanks to the dedication of sponsors, Sotheby's International Realty, Village Corner, and Thomas Bateman Hood Architecture, as well as the Carmel Police Department on traffic control, and the numerous docents patiently directing tour guests at each property.  But none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the homeowners who year after year open their historic homes to the public.

Carmel Then/Now at First Murphy House 

This year was a banner year, with seven historic properties open (as well as First Murphy House with its new exhibit Carmel Then/Now).  If you missed this years tour come along while we recap the history and the highlights.    


The Dunes 

Matthew M. Murphy, a sea captain from Boston, built the first buildings in what became Carmel-by-the-Sea, between 1846 and 1871. One of these became known as The Dunes.

John Monroe and Ann Murphy

Around 1871, Matthew’s nephew John Monroe Murphy and his wife Ann along with their eight children made a homestead squatting on this acreage and found shelter in the residence his uncle had built.

In 1875, after a survey of the land was completed, John Murphy was allowed to formalize their family claim by paying the U. S. Government $1.25 per acre, and on May 20, 1875, John Murphy received patent deeds for his land signed by President Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1904, Ann Murphy, a widow, sold her property on Carmel beach to Frank Powers and Jane Gallatin Powers.  The Powers family lived there until 1920.

East elevation c. 1904

The original board and batten single story residence was a 12’ by 25’ rectangle with a fireplace at the south end of the property.
East elevation c 1911 with Frank Powers and daughter Lolly

Though it is difficult to capture the c. 1911 angle of the east elevation, it is clear that other than the overhang and the siding, 
The Dunes remains little changed from the front.

The original plank Dutch door with quatrefoil window and metal grill greets Carmel Heritage Society House Tour guests. 

Inside, the original fireplace built c. 1846 that would have provided both heat and cooking facilities for early homesteaders, still has cookware attachments anchored in the stone.   

The Dunes interior walls and ceiling exhibit their original redwood siding.  The exposed lower wall panels show a 12"+ wide circular saw pattern. This area of the home had a wood floor which was unusual for the era. 

As early as 1864 an 18' by 26' addition with a fireplace was built to the west off of the original rectangle structure.

According to Maude MacKenzie who purchased the property from the Powers family in 1920, the floor in this living area of the house (shown above) was dirt and a four foot ladder was used to climb from the living area to the front of the house. Today it is connected by stairs.   

Just prior to 1901 a third addition was completed adding 32 feet off of the north end of the original rectangle as a bedroom.  This would be the home that Frank, Jane, and their four children moved to in 1904. 

Two years earlier Frank Powers and Frank Devendorf, who together managed to own the majority of the lots in town, formed the Carmel Development Company. They filed a map of Carmel-by-the-Sea with the Monterey County Recorder and began to sell properties and develop the town. Together they are considered the co-founders of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  
Murphy/Powers Barn on Dunes c. 1905 

Frank and Jane immediately encountered the joys of living on the sand dunes with the continual drift of fine sand from the dunes through the walls and into their home.  Their remedy was to cover the board and batten with a layer of planks.

Years later while the MacKenzie's owned the property (1920 - 1956) they went one step farther and stuccoed the outside. Which is the kind of siding we see on the historic portion of the house today.     

Fast forward to 2015. Owning a historic home in Carmel-by-the-Sea to some may be an impediment, but actually it is a privilege, albeit a challenging one.

Current owners of The Dunes have lovingly and beautifully restored and renovated their home, as well as adding a kitchen, office, bathroom, and bedroom all while maintaining the historic nature of the property. 

The Dunes from the north west elevation 

From the northwestern elevation great care was taken to restore the same footprint of the house as when the Powers were in residence.  

2015 Addition and Restoration

The picture above from the west side shows the new addition with wood siding, done to distinguish from the historic portion of the home.

This new addition was creatively constructed leaving the c. 1864 wall, door, and windows intact on the southern elevation, allowing for the historic portion of the house to still be visible alongside the modern addition.  

Inside, the kitchen features modern appliances, a creative "sand dune" pattern backspash, and a peak at the original c. 1846 rock chimney with rock sourced from Pescardero Canyon. Those lighting fixtures over the east wall were originally kerosene or oil fixtures from the late 1800s that were electrified for modern use.  They add charm as well as serve as a reminder of the pioneer beginning of this home.

Current owners, since 1973, have embraced the charm and history of The Dunes.  


The First Brick House 

Santiago and Bellsario Duckworth signed an indenture agreement with Honoré Escolle in 1888, which gave the Duckworth Bros. 5% commission on each $10 lot they sold in Carmel City.  W. C. Little of Monterey surveyed the Escolle property, drew up a map of the township with 135 blocks divided into four tracks and filed the map with the country recorder in Salinas on May 1, 1888.  By December of the following year 207 lots had been sold with over half of the buyers being from San Francisco.

In 1889, Benjamin Turner arrived in Carmel after spending over two decades working as a brick mason in San Francisco.  Born in England in 1849, it is not clear exactly what brought Turner to Carmel City in 1889, but if I had to guess it had something to do with the large number of lots being sold that were now in need of buildings.
Ben Turner, daughter Emma Ohm, with baby, friend Elizabeth Aucourt, with baby
in front of The First Brick House

As an advertisement for his skills, Turner built his own house (the first brick house in Carmel) on Monte Verde between Fifth and Sixth out of brick.  The bricks were red except for the window and door casings, chimney, and all the wall corners, which were lighter in color. This can be seen in the undated photo above.  

Turner built a natural river rock wall at the front of his property to show his skill in rock work. This may have been what landed him the job of building the stone tower for Christian Jorgensen's home (now the La Playa Carmel) in 1904.

Though Turner's red brick house has been painted white and board and batten shutters with decorative cutouts have been added, his diamond shaped brick decoration is still visible under the front gable.   

An addition with second fireplace was added to the south as well as the front porch to the west. No dates for these additions were listed in city records. 

There was also a board and batten addition added to the eastern elevation, probably added in the 1940s or 50s.  Again city records are limited.  

From the exposed painted river rock on the inside of this room, it could be that this addition merely enclosed an earlier patio area. 

In the December 31, 1926 edition of The Pine Cone it was reported that "Mr. Benjamin Turner, a pioneer resident is seriously ill."  He died December 29, 1926 and is buried at the El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove. 

 To see pictures of the inside of Benjamin Turner's one bedroom, one bath First Brick House visit Alain Pinel.


Charles Sumner Greene Studio 

Charles Sumner Greene was born in 1868.  He and his younger brother Henry studied metal and woodworking at the Manual Training School of Washington University in St. Louis. In 1891 they each received a certificate for partially completing a program at MIT's School of Architecture. In 1894 the Greene brothers established an architectural firm in Pasadena designing residential bungalows throughout southern California.  One of their most famous was built in 1908, the Gamble House in Pasadena.
In 1916, Charles moved his family of seven (five children) to Carmel. A few years later, he purchased seven lots along Lincoln Street south of Thirteenth Avenue.  It was here that Charles built a U-shaped board and batten cottage for his family.  
Charles Sumner Greene Family Home Carmel

In 1918, Charles met wealthy businessman, D.L. James, and received a commission to build the James home in the Highlands.  His former homes were built of wood, this time Sumner would use stone.

Whether his use of stone in the D. L. James house inspired Sumner to use stone to build his own studio in 1923, or his obtaining a large quantity of used brick from the demolition of the Hotel Del Carmelo in Pacific Grove was the impetus I am not sure.  But in September 1923, Sumner took out a permit to build a studio out of brick on the eastern elevation of his current board and batten house on Lincoln.  

Charles Sumner Greene Studio 

In an article written for Architectural Digest in May 1989 daughter-in-law, Betty Patchin Greene stated, 

"Charles, short on cash but long on excellence, exhibited an unexpected streak of Yankee make-do... for the studio he employed used brick from a demolished hotel laid in Flemish bond displaying irregularities...

Centenarian redwood pickets discarded on a ranch combined with brick arches inspired by nearby Mission churches for garden walls and gates.  

Hand carved teak wood front door with tomato pattern

Scrap lumber went into trim, door pulls...

Entry to Studio 

Recycled tiles and glass used to finish floor of entry

Unfinished carving on wood panel in entry

Hand carved door to powder room  off entry 

Inside Powder Room 

 Inside powder room Biblical carving of "Susanna at the Bath" 

...and little molds used to impress designs on wet plaster. 

                                        Imprinting mold on top of wall bracket 1989 / Wall bracket 2015

Hand carved ceiling beams and imprinted plaster

A longtime San Francisco supplier gave hardwood flooring: beams came from a nearby redwood canyon.  These doors and trim he carved himself..."

The Charles Sumner Greene Studio was Greene's working architect studio from 1923 until his death in 1957.

 Studio sometime after 1957

Greene's drafting table was positioned under the extra large glass skylight. His daughter Annie Greene's grand piano placed close by for impromptu recitals. Annie was a featured pianist in early Bach Festivals.    

 Skylight 2016

Studio 1989

Studio 2016 

After Charles Sumner Greene died in 1957, his son Thomas Gordon Greene and daughter-in-law Betty Patchin Greene, lived in and became caretakers of the house and studio. 

Though the Studio which consists of the entry, powder room, storage room and great room remains little changed since it was built, the original board and batten house built around 1921 (shown earlier above in a black and white photo) was demolished in February 1966.  Thomas Gordon Greene replaced it with his own design, a board and batten and brick residence following the same U-shaped plan of the original.  This still stands today.


Villa Scimmia 

M. J. Murphy is credited by local historians for designing and/or constructing 300 to 350 buildings, both residential and commercial in Carmel. In 1926, he designed and built a primarily Spanish Eclectic style home for Carmel resident William J. Kingsland.  

Kingsland Building Permit - 1926

In 1927, M. J. Murphy constructed a 10' by 16' storehouse on the property for Mr. Kingsland and in 1929 he added a second single car garage to the front of the property. 

While the building has undergone renovations over the years with a remodel 1951, 1980, and again in 2000, most of this has occurred on non-primary elevations.   Today this home is still a notable work of M. J. Murphy.  

Villa Scimmia, which means Monkey House in Italian, stands up to its name as monkey images are found scattered throughout the property.  A Buddha Monkey sits on the stone wall greeting Carmel Heritage House Tour guests who stop by.   

Guests entered the intricately patterned antique French door with iron grille work and toured this exquisitely decorated and magnificent home.  

The garden areas surrounding Villa Scimmia were elegant, functional, cozy, and whimsical.

 A bocce ball court,

topiary monkey mural,

 two terraced patios with fireplaces, 

a fountain,

and the pièce de résistance,

an 85 year old Trumpet Vine -

 that literally wraps itself around the house,

 intertwining itself throughout the garden -

was in full bloom during our tour!  

 Next up Carmel Heritage Society Centennial Year House and Garden Tour 2016 Part 2 - Church of the Wayfarer, Curtain Calls, and the Mrs. Clinton Walker House by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Until next time Happy Adventures!

For more of my self-guided walks of Carmel

please see GPSmyCity

For an interactive map and guided walking tour covering many of our tours please be sure to download the GPSmyCity App from the iTunes store. The App covers an extensive library of articles and walking tours from over 470 cities worldwide, and now features articles from Adventures of a Home Town Tourist covering Carmel and Monterey (with more cities on the way).


Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook 

and Twitter

Photography by LA Momboisse unless listed below: 

Black and white picture of Photograph of John and Ann Murphy (Gloria Lester Collection)  History of the Murphy-Powers-Comstock Barn/Studio West of San Antonio Avenue Carmel, California – Prepared by Kirstie Wilde in support of an application for inclusion of this structure on Carmel’s Historic Preservation List – dated April 12, 1993 – Carmel-by-the-Sea Department of Community Planning and Building files. 

Black and white picture of The Dunes c 1904 courtesy of owners.  

Black and white picture of The Dunes c 1911 with Frank Powers and daughter Lolly who is Erin Lee Gafill’s grandmother, courtesy of Erin Lee Gafill - Photo by Edgar Cohen, Fassett Family Archives. 

Black and white picture of the Matthew M. Murphy/Powers barn built on the dunes which became Jane Powers art studio just north of the Powers house The Dunes - Photo Edgar Cohen, Fassett Family Archives. 

Black and white picture of the First Brick House courtesy of Harrison Memorial Library Henry Meade Williams Local History Department.  

Black and white picture of Charles Sumner Greene from Wikipedia.  

Black and white home of Charles Sumner Greene Family House, Carmel - Seavey, Kent. Images of America Carmel A History in Architecture. (Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2007), p. 63.

Black and white picture of the Charles Sumner Greene Studio interior Greene and Greene Virtual Archives.

Black and white picture of Charles Sumner Greene Studio - Historic Houses: Charles Greene, by Betty Patchin Greene - Harrison Memorial Library Henry Meade Williams Local History Department.  

Historical information on the Murphy/Powers property taken from History of the Murphy-Powers-Comstock Barn/Studio West of San Antonio Avenue Carmel, California – Prepared by Kirstie Wilde in support of an application for inclusion of this structure on Carmel’s Historic Preservation List – dated April 12, 1993 – Carmel-by-the-Sea Department of Community Planning and Building files.