Hill's Dream House on Market

Woodsy Carmel house was home to master from the 'Second Bay Tradition' Henry Hill
Fridays On the Homefront
Designed by renowned Bay Area modernist architect Henry Hill, this rustic 'hidden gem' residence in Carmel was also Hill's family home for the past 50 years. It's now for sale. All photos: J. Bushnell Photography
Fridays On the Homefront
Fridays On the Homefront

Bay Area architecture is sometimes divided up into three ‘Bay Traditions,’ and one of the most interesting new listings on the market right now is the dream house of one of the Second Bay Tradition’s foremost practitioners.

“The house is a complete step back in time, into that mid-century modern period,” said Jonathan Spencer, listing agent for architect Henry Hill’s onetime residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the incorporated part of greater Carmel. The three-bedroom, three-bath home was recently listed for $1,595,000.

“It’s never been for sale. It was built in the ‘60s [1966 to be precise], and this is its first time on the market,” said Spencer. He spoke last Saturday after what he termed a successful open house for the home, whose quixotic address, in typically Carmel fashion, is Lopez 3NW of 4th.

Most of the estimated 500 homes designed by Hill are in the Bay Area, but he designed quite a few in Carmel as well. He and his wife Heather bought a parcel of land there in the early ‘60s that was subdivided and sited with three houses of his design. Two went to business partners of Hill’s, and the Hills moved from Berkeley in 1971 to the third house, which is the only one for sale.

From the late 1920s to the early ‘40s, the Second Bay Tradition combined the International Style—which Hill learned at Harvard under Walter Gropius—with woodsy, Bay Area vernacular. Sometimes called ‘redwood post and beam,’ it was pioneered by Gardner Dailey, William Wurster, and John Elkin Didwiddle, the latter an early employer and later a partner of Hill’s.

The tradition is well represented in this 1,842-square-foot home, with its elevated vertical form, faded cedar exterior, cork and tile flooring, and eye-catching modernist living room. Surrounded by decks under twisted oaks and Monterey pines, it was profiled in the ‘60s in a House & Garden Building Guide.

“It’s a treat, just an absolute treat,” bubbled Spencer. He said the “very whimsical” living room design is probably the home’s best feature, but hastened to add, “You’re also four blocks from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Carmel Beach!”
CA-Modern magazine Features Editor Dave Weinstein talked to Jane Hill in 2005 for a San Francisco Chronicle story about her father’s architectural style, which he termed “flamboyant modernism.”