Luscious Lee Listing

While still rarities, another knockout home by East Bay architect Roger Lee is for sale
Fridays on the Homefront
While homes for sale designed by mid-century architect Roger Lee continue to be considered rare finds, the Northern California has seen three hit the market during the past 14 months. The latest one is another beauty, located at 73 Tara Road in Orinda. “It has never been on the open market,” said Karen Lum of Coldwell Banker, who will be holding another open house this Sunday, June 4 from 1-4 p.m. Photography: Open Homes Photography
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront

For at least the third time in 14 months, Bay Area homebuyers are taking aim at a gorgeous piece of mid-century modern architecture by Roger Lee, one of the region's favorite sons.

Despite the recent activity, homes by the architect are still rarities—since so few of his designs were built in the region.

"It has never been on the open market," said Karen Lum of Coldwell Banker, who listed the home at 73 Tara Road in Orinda on recently for a relatively modest $1.3 million. The property will be on open house from 1 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, June 4.

Like another recent Lee listing, the $1.1 million listing last spring at 440 Camino Sobrante, Oakland native and Berkeley grad Roger Lee designed the homes in the mid-1950s to give clients full benefit of lush Orinda greenery.

"He really takes advantage of the natural setting," Lum commented, citing a signature Lee characteristic. "You have a panoramic verdant view."

The Tara Road property, with three beds, two baths over 1,946 square feet, is considerably less costly per foot than the two-bedroom Wilkinson House on Camino Sobrante, which was 1,110 square feet when listed. (A third Roger Lee house, located in Kensington, was for sale last spring at $815,000.) The new listing does need some work though.

Both Orinda homes hit the market as single-owner properties offered by the families for whom Lee designed them. In this case, remarkably, the seller is the customer himself: longtime Oakland drug store owner Gene Yee, whose wife Elaine died last year, Lum said.

Lum said that when Lee designed the 1958 home for Yee, the client asked for a slightly wider entry hallway. She gleaned many such details from notes exchanged between the two that Yee still keeps.

Lum added that the property is virtually in original condition. At some point almost all of the original terrazzo flooring was removed to rehabilitate the still-operating radiant-heat system and was replaced by other tiling, but that is the only major change other than newer kitchen appliances. Lum added that the house is "historically interesting because he didn't build that many homes."