Gems of South Mission Hills

| September 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

Mission Hills Heritage Presents its Fourteenth Annual Home Tour

The Torrance Street house has lots of character and will be open for guests to view.

Mission Hills Heritage will be hosting its 14th annual Historic Home Tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, September 22. It is a collection of eight houses, eclectic in style: Craftsman, Prairie, Spanish, and Tudor.

The Craftsman house is probably the most common of Mission Hills. Originally a style with British Arts and Crafts roots, the style swept over America in the early 1900s. So popular, plans in every size from cottage to mansion were available. Ready-made kit houses were available for purchase with all parts included and an instruction book that advertised the average man could build one in 3 months. Several companies sold the kits, most recognizably, the Sears catalog. But the master builders of Mission Hills, for the most part, made their own designs and some developed particular trademark elements that are found oft repeated.

The Prairie style is said to be the only uniquely American style of architecture. It was developed by a group of Chicago architects, with Frank Lloyd Wright being the primary driving force and master of the genre. It flourished here between 1900 & 1920 and then rapidly faded in popularity. It emphasized long horizontal lines that echoed the Midwestern prairies of its origin. These houses have deep overhanging enclosed eaves resting on large corbels. The porches are partial or full width and often have massive squared support columns. Most in Mission Hills are two story and have smooth stucco finishes.

The Spanish houses in Mission Hills encompass Mission Revival, Spanish Revival, Monterey and Hacienda styles. These houses were at the height of their popularity and primarily built in the 1920s and 1930s. The interest in this style developed from the film culture of Southern California, the proximity of Mexico, and nostalgia for the California Ranchero and land grant culture of our past.

The Tudor style in Mission Hills is actually a Sothern California fabrication with various elements drawn from English medieval architecture. It became a briefly popular style in Hollywood in the early days of the movie industry, originally developed by set designers. They were called Storybook houses and sought to embody a romantic theme. Many more of them are to be found in Los Angeles, but they made their way to San Diego as well.

Each Master Builder active in the early 1900s in Mission Hills built houses of many different styles. There are whole streets of small and large Craftsman, and rows of large Prairie houses with some Storybook houses sprinkled in their midst. There are enclaves of predominantly Spanish houses also, but because the style came a bit later, they also appear randomly throughout the area, built in remaining empty lots. By the beginning of World War II, most available land was fully developed.

The tours always include complimentary, almost-famous homemade cookies and beverages served at one of the houses.

Advance tickets for the Home Tour are encouraged. Purchase them online at before noon on September 21 to save $5.00 on each ticket. Day-of-tour purchases will cost $30 for members and $35 for non-members.

Will Call and Ticket Sales will be located at 1437 Torrance, opening at 9:30 a.m. and closing at 2:30 p.m. Only cash or checks will be accepted.

For complete details and membership information, please visit:

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