Iconic Sea Ranch Retreat

For sale—original 'Binker Barn' designed by MLTW and now on the National Register
Fridays on the Homefront
Now on the market is one of the first of 17 original ‘Binker Barns’ built at Sea Ranch. The three-bedroom, two-bath home (front view above) was designed by William Turnbull, Jr. of MLTW and built by contractor Matthew Silvia as one of three ‘spec’ homes for prominent Sonoma realtor Sanford Binker. All photos: Paul Kozal
Fridays on the Homefront
Front deck.
Fridays on the Homefront
Interior of entry.
Fridays on the Homefront
Loft view.

An iconic Bay Modern home now listed for sale has the distinction of being on the National Register of Historic Places despite being augmented repeatedly—albeit tastefully—throughout the half-century since its construction.

“I think they did a beautiful job of keeping with the aesthetics,” says Hanne Lisberg of Lisberg and Co., who listed the home at 35292 Timber Ridge Road in Sea Ranch for $1.325 million earlier this month. The realtor noted that this is hardly surprising considering the personal connection of the owners to the Sonoma County community and its designers.

“I remember him fondly,” Marty Abell said of William Turnbull, the ‘T’ in MLTW, the Berkeley firm that master-planned Sea Ranch on the former Del Mar Ranch in 1963.

Abell was an architecture student at Cal when the community began, and his first design professor was Turnbull, whom he calls “an excellent instructor, a very good guy and a fantastic architect.” In fact, one of the homeowner’s student projects was “to design a recreation center up here in 1968.”

For Abell and his wife Susan, this is the second home they have owned in Sea Ranch, which they’re selling in order to move closer to their daughters in Davis and son in San Francisco.

“It’s a remote place, there’s no doubt about it,” Abell conceded of the coastal community, describing it as 90 minutes from a stoplight “in three directions—north, south and east.”

As the 1968 house neared the minimum age of 50, the Abells hired preservation planner Brad Brewster to prepare its 40-page nomination for the National Register. In December, it became the only Sea Ranch home so honored.

A big part of its claim to fame is being one of the first of 17 ‘Binker Barns’ built at Sea Ranch. This three-bedroom, two-bath was originally built by contractor Matthew Silvia as one of three ‘spec’ homes for prominent Sonoma realtor Sanford Binker.

“These were [possibly] the only 'spec’ houses that Turner ever built,” said the architect’s former student.