The Mayor’s House
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Former Monterey Mayor Dan Albert knows a lot about the Oak Grove house bequeathed him and his three brothers in 1996. Their parents once owned several lots in the neighborhood near the family home where the boys were being raised and in 1942 bought this 840-square-foot stucco house nearby. Within 10 years, with Monterey well into postwar expansion, massive construction of Highway 1 had begun too close to the new house and the Alberts decided it should be relocated a couple of blocks away.
Albert provides details with enthusiasm, sounding more like current events than memories. “When they moved it, the house was facing the wrong way on the lot and had to be turned. It had a garage under it that they got rid of, then built this separate one instead,” he says, indicating a one-car garage behind the house, shaped and finished in keeping with the flat-roof Spanish styling of the transplant.
Albert walks up the front steps to the exterior foyer, a high, semi-enclosed space with large arches on three sides, two of them windows. The door opens to the living room, where he describes what’s original and what was remodeled to make way for the 21st-century family (all new wiring, plumbing, on-demand water heater, stacked washer/dryer, hardwood floors and dual pane windows throughout). The living room retains original hardwood floors, now gleaming, and the period fireplace that also functions as fine sculpture. It was built with brick-trimmed multi-toned stone, a side niche and large plaster chimney in an inverted geometrical funnel from mantle to ceiling, painted the white of the walls throughout. Windows line the opposite walls, daylight burnishing obtuse rectangles along the floors.
“Relatives in the trades used their creative judgment remodeling, like opening this up,” Albert says, indicating a full dining room separated from the living room by a wide archway. “This was originally walled off from the living room but had three doors on the same wall going to each bedroom and the bathroom,” Albert says. It seemed better suited for a Marx Brothers routine—so now, the big rooms are a continuance of each other and only one door remains, going to the hall where two bedrooms bracket the bath. The bathroom was kept original, with its masterfully integrated storage.
In each bedroom the light is wonderful, from three narrow horizontal windows high above eye level. The bedrooms and hallway floors are warm hardwood (different compatible vintages) and the bath has pale stone tiles.
The kitchen is floored with larger stone tiles, as is a secret dining room, a fabulous space beyond it. Once a back porch, it’s now a very private dining/family room with a long wall of windows viewing the backyard, rooftops and sky, scenes on view from the kitchen as well. A table for six or more near the windows would crowd no one, and people can be served directly over the kitchen counter just above the stainless sinks. The kitchen appliances are also stainless and with warm wooden cabinets and storage drawers plus the pale stone floors, pleasing phases of warm and cool moods arrive and morph as the day moves along.
Looking through scenes of the past only his family can enjoy, Albert says: “My wife and I were the first tenants after this house was moved. We gave birth to three of our four children here.”
PRICE: $739,000. 656 Park Ave., Monterey. Contact Pam Pantzis, Shankle Real Estate, 917-4898.