A Timeless Quality
Thursday, July 13, 2006
First impressions can be joyous. And when the really good impressions prove better than imagined, it can lead to unadulterated delight. Regarding houses, people may seek their preferred era of construction, and when found all original and still perfect, it can be a living dream.
First impressions of Rick and Melissa Magno’s 1920 house are as good as they get, starting with the neighborhood. Willow Street continues for blocks and blocks with houses and lawns impeccably cared for. They were built during different decades, resulting in the unusually pleasing mélange of Maple Park.
The Magno home has great 1920s elements throughout, such as the wide rectangular front entry set into an archway, plus gracious big windows particular to the era. Picture windows that usurped most of a façade weren’t common ‘til the ‘50s.
“The house had everything we wanted,” Melissa says, “built with integrity and the best materials, big rooms, ceilings 10 feet high [in all but the master], a great kitchen, special dining room and the bathroom—it’s just so unbelievable.” (It’s a three bedroom, one bath.) Bathrooms built in the 1920s were frequently so large they may secretly have been intended for dance parties with flappers and bootleg whisky iced in the tub. The Magno’s bath, for example, consists of two large rooms on either side of an expansive archway. The loo and tub are in the rear, the sink and a wall of built-ins in the first section with oodles of remaining floor space. A fair guess is 12 by 16 feet. Each section has a door, one to the main hallway, one to the master.
The living room is also two big spaces divided by a full-width archway, each section illuminated by a lovely arrangement of windows. It’s remarkable how wide and thick the door and window frames and baseboards are, most likely slabs of redwood and refined to perfection. The fireplace surround is an elegant use of the same, all painted with smooth, thick layers of gloss-white paint, a look achieved only by diligent freshenings over eighty-some years. Original brass hinges on the doors are nearly sculptural by today’s standards, the doorknobs the original glass in many instances.
The dining room is entirely separate, really ideal, with double doors off the main hall, masterful built-ins and a swinging door to possibly the most entertaining example of full originality in the Magno’s house.
Their kitchen is huge, really beautiful and rare with a cast iron sink two feet across within a heavy porcelain counter. The faucets are from day one. The windows reveal a side yard.
The property has three plush grassy yards. The front lawn is all that’s visible from outside because a tall wooden fence hides the wide side yard, which in turn has a white picket fence separating it from one of the deepest backyards imaginable in a city neighborhood. There one discovers the freestanding studio with full bath, great windows and a great aura of potential. It has been Melissa’s office and is deliciously private from the street, neighbors and the main house as well.
Attached to the back of the studio is the original single-car garage, currently a workshop. The driveway broadens at the top for boat or RV parking plus two cars. If one pauses to take in the whole property—its remarkable layout, its like-new originality and each unique detail—the lasting impression is of a home with at least 80 years to go if it’s blessed with families like the Magnos.
Price: $635,000. 27 Willow St., South Salinas • Contact Kevin and Lisa Spedaliere, Coldwell Banker Gay Dales Realtor, 776-3136.