Home Tour: Craftsman, Then and Now

| September 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

by Arlene Hauser

Thoughtful design emulated the natural environment, and imposed a high regard for quality materials and mastery in craftsmanship. Photo is courtesy of Pat Harrison Photographic Art.

Mission Hills Heritage is holding its Thirteenth Annual Historic Home Tour on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Eight, rather than the usual six, homes will be on view, each reflecting a different aspect of craftsman architecture. Visitors will explore both interior and exterior features, and docents will provide historical details.

During San Diego’s rapid growth in the early twentieth century, craftsman homes first became popular. Influenced by the British arts and crafts movement, architects and builders embraced its philosophy, one that valued natural materials, skilled carpentry with select woods, and native stone. The craftsman aesthetics’ thoughtful design emulated the natural environment, and imposed a high regard for quality materials and mastery in craftsmanship.

Useful decorative art, often handmade, was the style of the era, expressed in the creation of beautiful furniture, ceramic tiles, textiles, painting and pottery. All perfectly complimented these artistically crafted homes.

In 1905, local interest was kindled by the Marston house, built by William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill, at the north end of Balboa Park. Although wealthier clients could hire an architect to design a custom residence, families of modest means could purchase a design from a plan book and hire a builder to construct a house. Entire kits were available locally at specialty lumberyards. Because of the population boom after World War I, one-story bungalows were the most popular style in the 1920s. Mission Hills has a wide range of craftsman homes, from the small kit bungalow to the large custom masterpiece, as well as many that have been enlarged through the decades.

On the 2017 tour, a variety of craftsman homes will be open; four are historically designated. Although primarily built in the first part of the previous century, its comfortably warm and inviting style continues to be built, and one of these new treasures is included on the tour.

Making minor or extensive renovations to meet families’ needs do not automatically disqualify homeowners from attaining either historic designation or qualifying for the Mills Act. Useful guidelines have been established, giving flexibility that help maintain the character and charm of their century-old neighborhood. Information regarding these guidelines will be provided.
Complimentary refreshments will be served at one of the homes featuring Mission Hills Heritage’s almost famous homemade cookies and lemonade.

Advance tickets to the Home Tour are encouraged. Purchase them online to save $5 at brownpaperticket.com/event/3043428. Day-of-tour tickets will be $30 for MHH members and $35 for non-members. All tickets will be at Pioneer Park, 1521 Washington Place, San Diego, 92103. For membership and additional information, please visit: www.MissionHillsHeritage.org.

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