It’s too pretty in Dallas to leave this weekend, and half the town’s away on spring break anyhow. I think it feels a bit like Carmel By-the-Sea, CA, which has the best House Porn in the whole wide world. This is Hansel House, aptly named, one of the sprinkling of Victorian and other whimsical homes that have helped make Carmel such a museum of charming, beautiful homes.
Beautiful comunities start with thoughtful developers. James Franklin Devendorf was a San Francisco attorney who created Carmel as a haven for artists and intellectuals. What came first, the art or the money? Like any great land lover, Devendorf and his partner, developer Frank H. Powers, saw dollar signs in the sea-sprayed terrain. The two established the Carmel Development Company, which filed its first map of the city in 1903 and marketed to poets, writers, artists and academicians, who would create the kitschy ambiance the village retains today.
Green before it was even casually in vogue, Devendorf and Powers planted 100 cypress trees in the barren potato patches along the coast and right down Carmel’s Main Street. Then they invited in the builders. One of the first: a 16 year old from Utah named Michale J. Murphy.
Murphy built little Victorians, copies of houses in Utah. Murphy also began to add craftsman embellishments in the roofs and other handiwork.
In 1924, Hugh Comstock visited his sister in Carmel. He met Mayotta Browne, who made rag dolls, and married her. As Mayotta’s business thrived, she needed more space and asked Hugh to build her a cottage to use as a doll showroom. Hugh was not a builder, or even an architect, but he designed and built a whimsical little cottage for her. People loved his intriguing little creations, and clamored for him to build them cottages or stores. The little cottages seemed to grow from the ground they rested on. Hugh purposefully did not use a carpenter’s level, so the lines were untrue and the chimneys crooked, giving them an authentic, hand-made feel.
Hugh built his own studio in 1927, inspired by an English country house. The exterior walls are stuccoed and trimmed with wood, irregularly carved, at cornices, windows and doors. The roof is steeply pitched with irregularly-cut shakes. The narrow, tall chalk-rock chimney has a Gothic pot.
Let’s talk about Carmel real estate as an investment. During the 1920s, architect J.R. Murphy designed and sold collectible Carmel houses for about $100, lot included. Some 90 years later, his houses are still collectible, but sell for way more than $100. Here’s a restored 1929 Murphy house across from Carmel Beach and a short stroll to town. Unobstructed ocean views from three levels retains the original mahogany doors, S & S tile, metalwork, hardware, fixtures & fireplaces. Interior surfaces, millwork, beams, floors, appliances & amenities are stunning with six bedrooms, each with a private bath, and many unique indoor and outdoor gathering spaces. There’s also an exercise pool, loggias and a protected courtyard with a fireplace & pizza oven. Spacious detached two car garage and generous off street parking are rarities in Carmel. 5435 Sq. ft. of living space. Price — are you ready? $15,000,000.