The Homes of the Arts and Crafts Movement
Famous Arts and Crafts Homes
The Castle at San Simeon (c. 1919-1937) – Julia Morgan, architect
The Perfect Location
The spot William Randolph Hearst chose was quite a distance inland from the coast, on land bequeathed him by his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and the original site of the family ranch and campsite established by his father, George Hearst, a miner who had struck it rich with the discovery of silver at the Ophir mine on the famous “Comstock Lode.”
Julia Morgan worked for nearly 20 years with W.R. Hearst to help him design and build his home, using her special reinforced concrete technique to provide stability in a region of high seismic activity. In addition, she incorporated elements of European design, from Moorish, French, and Venetian influences. According to the history, W.R. Hearst and his mother Phoebe had taken the “Grand Tour” of European palaces and castles when he was a young child, and thus Hearst’s dream was to come to fruition in his own castle on a hill with Ms. Morgan’s steadfast dedication and skill.
Julia Morgan’s other notable works include the former St. John Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, as well as the Asilomar Conference Center in Carmel. These structures seem to me more typical of the Arts & Crafts Movement than is Hearst Castle.
The D.L. James House in Carmel Highlands (c. 1919) – Greene & Greene, architects
While we were driving slowly down Highway 1 through Carmel Highlands, enjoying the cool air and aquamarine color of the surf below, my husband called my attention to the long stone fence running for some length along the edge of the road. As he is an architect, he recognized the stone fence as the hallmark of the famous Greene & Greene House of Carmel Highlands. We pulled off the road and walked back to get a better look. Sure enough, it was the Greene & Greene House, constructed almost entirely of the same native rock from which the cliff was composed. To my eye, I saw elements of a J.R.R. Tolkien “hobbit house” but in stone rather than earth, and distinct Mission-style touches in the bell tower and unique curving red Spanish tile roof.
The Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco
Bernard Maybeck (draftsman); A. C. Schweinfurth & A. Page Brown, architects
Before knowing anything about the Arts & Crafts Movement, I already knew what I liked. As a teenager growing up in Marin County, I made myself at home among the quiet redwoods and natural beauty that surrounded me in places like Mill Valley and Larkspur. There were waterfalls, ferns, and natural redwood forests interspersed with homes made of wood and glass that seemed to blend right into the natural habitat. I was particularly fond of homes that incorporated hewn stone, heavy timbers, and stained glass.
When I was looking for a place to have my wedding back in the 70s, a friend suggested the Swedenborgian Church near the Presidio Wall district in San Francisco. It was perfect!
I recently went back and visited the Swedenborgian Church, and discovered that a very well-known architect of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Bernard Maybeck, had been involved in designing the building. He is now one of my favorite architects—I’d feel at home in every building I’ve seen that he has designed!
Also designed by Bernard Maybeck, the Roos House in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, which demonstrates such distinctive Arts and Crafts features as the quatrefoil (four-pointed star).
The Arts and Crafts Movement on Amazon
Bernard MaybeckThe Arts and Crafts MovementJulia Morgan: Architect of BeautyGreene & Greene: Developing A California ArchitectureGustav Stickley’s Craftsman Homes and BungalowsPrairie Style: Houses and Gardens by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School