gold rushAlways a hotel, this week’s gold-rush era historical shelter in California also has its place in history as the location for an office and stage stop for an express company that ran mail across the country.

The site of the current Hotel Sutter, located in Sutter Creek, California, was first home to the American House Hotel, built in 1851. It served as a stop for Adams & Co., later Adams Express Company, which pre-dated Wells Fargo.

Sutters Mill

Sutter Creek is named after a local creek, which in turn got its name from a local prospector, John Sutter, who discovered gold nearby in 1848, triggering the California Gold Rush.  Sutter owned a sawmill where the mother lode was found, and after fortune hunters began trampling his land, he decided to prospect, too, moving to Sutter Creek to begin his own mining operation, using his servants to mine, something that drew the disapproval of the miners also working to find gold. Eventually, he returned to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento and never mined again.

By 1852, Sutter Creek had a post office. Two years later, it was a town. In 1913, it incorporated.

Over time, the town became a boomtown, moving from gold mining to quartz mining until 1942, when most of the gold mines were closed during the war.

In 1865, disaster struck the town of Sutter Creek when fire ravaged the business district, burning the American House Hotel to the ground. It was rebuilt, and went through several name changes — the American Exchange Hotel, the Belotti Inn, and now the Hotel Sutter.

And while gold mining doesn’t happen in Sutters Creek anymore, there are plenty of nearby wineries and breweries, restaurants, and shopping. And the area that was once known for gold is now known for having land perfect for growing grapes, making Amador County a go-to place for a more dressed-down wine country. (more…)

EllwoodCraig Ellwood wasn’t always Craig Ellwood, but the Clarendon, Texas, native became renown under that moniker as he made a name as a premiere modernist architect. His homes, often considered works of art (and rightly so), are perfect blends of spare, midcentury German Bauhaus architecture and the more informal California sensibilities of the state he called home longer than the Lone Star State.

Born John Burke in 1922, his family left Texas and found themselves in Los Angeles by the mid-1930s. After joining the Army Air Corps in the forties, he, his brother, and two friends set up shop as contractors under the name Craig Ellwood. Not long after, Burke changed his name to Craig Ellwood, and began night classes in structural engineering.

He opened his own firm, and began to make a name for himself. Despite never having a license as an architect, he was a sought-after guest lecturer and continued to create residential and commercial masterpieces until he closed his shop in 1977 and moved to Italy. He died in 1992.

One of those masterpieces is The Smith House in Los Angeles. Built in 1958, it was restored this year under American Institute of Architects fellow (and former Ellwood associate) Jim Tyler’s guidance. It is now on the market. (more…)

Perhaps you, like me, continue to be intrigued by the “tiny house” trend.  For one exclusive area of Malibu, California, the tiny house thing has been more than a trend for more than 50 years.  Welcome to Paradise Cove, one of the most photographed and filmed parts of the greater Los Angeles area.  Paradise Cove is unique, not only in Malibu, but for all of the beach communities along the Pacific Coast Highway. Paradise Cove is, in simple terms a trailer park — a very fancy trailer park.

Fans of Grease, The Rockford Files, and pop culture junkies, stick around. We’re going to dish all the dirt on Paradise Cove.

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Leona ValleyA California midcentury modern with views for days, tucked into an 11-acre property studded with pine, in the heart of a newly-designated AVA (American Viticultural area) designated area sounds like an amazing second shelter — especially when you see all the room it has for entertaining. (more…)

basic instinctOne of the stars of Basic Instinct is for sale.

The California home where parts of the 1990s thriller were filmed got a lot of attention as one of the more stunning sets in movie history. It is on the market – and the buyer will have not only a piece of cinematic history but a home with gorgeous, jaw-dropping views of the ocean and Point Lobos. (more…)

Cabin-80-12

Thirty miles from the grind of Los Angeles, in the middle of the dense woods of Santa Anita Canyon, sits a tiny cabin. Like where this is going?

Built in 1918, the cabin was home to Mike Pauro — a musician known as ‘Ajax Moon’ — a poet and fiddler for whom the spot is now named. Fiddler’s Crossing. Reminds us of something out of a folk story. And if rustic is your thing, you could buy a place in that story for a mere $50,000.

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Pebble Beach Golf Links. Photo by Bart Keagy

7th Hole, Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Photo Credit: Bart Keagy)

Trade representatives from Monterey County, Calif., hosted a media dinner I attended recently, making an excellent case for the coastal area two hours or so south of San Francisco, plying us with agricultural products from the region.  It was a knockout meal, not surprisingly, as the area is home to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Salinas Valley (nicknamed the “Salad Bowl of the World”),  and numerous California-caliber restaurants and wineries.

Eating local here is as good as it gets.  (Full disclosure: the dinner included fabulous abalone, lamb, artisanal cheese, glorious produce, fine wine — and, yes, it was comped.)

Today’s post features one of the premier residential communities in Monterey County: Pebble Beach.  It’s a bucket list golf destination for many, with more than half-a-dozen golf courses, including  Pebble Beach Resort’s famed Spy Glass Hill, The Links at Spanish Bay, and Pebble Beach Golf Links,  rated the No.1 public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest Magazine,  and a frequent setting for the U.S. Open.

Much of Pebble Beach is gated, open to the public willing to pay the $10 toll to drive the renowned 17 mile scenic route that winds along its shoreline. Homeowners and resort visitors on this road enjoy some of the most spectacular oceanfront views in the country. Housing prices in the area reflect the stunning beauty.

Soak it up, viewing housing options in a range of prices:

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