'King of the Round House' - Page 2

One of six circular houses by mid-century architect Leon Meyer is on East Bay market
Fridays On the Homefront
One of Leon Meyer's other Oakland hills round houses, while
under construction. Photo: courtesy Jonathan Taylor
Fridays On the Homefront
Leon Meyer and wife Patricia also enjoyed living in their own Oakland Hills round house. Photo: Morley Baer (courtesy Estate
of Leon Meyer)
Fridays On the Homefront
Nighttime shot of a Danville round house by Leon Meyer.
Photo: courtesy Jonathan Taylor

"It makes the house seem so much larger than it is," she says, conceding that finding suitable furniture and hangings for the curved, three-inch-thick, tongue-and-groove redwood walls was "definitely a challenge." Nonetheless, she says, after a while, "You sort of stop noticing it's round."

One of the home's greatest features is the sweeping bay views, oriented southwest toward Alameda and including the approaches for all the major airports. "I used to joke with my friends that I could see their planes come in," says Tomlins, who says she bought the home for $570,000 and did considerable restoration maintenance.

Taylor says six Meyer round houses still stand in the East Bay hills, plus a library and preschool in communities nearby, and many noncircular homes and commercial buildings as well. Meyer and his family lived in a round house on Balboa Drive in Montclair, where he built numerous homes. Melvin Court, built in 1967 for the Nolan family, was apparently the second and final one with a folded-style, zig-zag roof.

"He was really underappreciated," Taylor says of the architect, whom he met and interviewed two years before Meyer passed in 2003. "He was just a great guy...There was no whimsy to what he did."

Taylor's own career has been guided by contact with architects like Meyer and famed Desert Modernist Albert Frey, and he describes a similar experience for the Melvin Court architect.

"He [Meyer] was studying at Cal Poly, and he went to hear Frank Lloyd Wright speak at the Marin Center..." says Taylor, "and it was an epiphany. I think he [Wright] changed his [Meyer's] career goals."

Meyer's company, Taylor says, prepared components of the round houses at an Oakland warehouse and shipped some of them for construction in Hawaii and other states.

Of course, other Bay Modern architects designed round houses, such as the Corbetta House in Los Altos and the Harkleroad House in Marin. Still, aspects of Meyer's designs, such as their barrel design and magnificent settings and views, make them stand out.

"They are the only round houses that are truly round. Everything's formed," says Taylor. "There are no straight doors [or windows] in this house."

"Of all the Meyer houses, this is one of the best ones," says Taylor of the Melvin Court model. "I'm sure some mid-century modern nut is just going to go crazy for this."

For more information about the 46 Melvin Court round house, contact listing agent Rebecca Erdiakoff and click here. By the way, the Sunday June 14 open house is from 2 to 4:30 p.m.