The Master’s Legacy
Thursday, March 29, 2007
In 1966, Bud Evenson, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright and a talented architect in his own right, designed a house in Monterey that’s as much of a one-of-a-kind today as it was then. Evenson has said his design was influenced by Wright’s ideas (as many local homes were at that time) and defines the house as “Frank Lloyd Wright done simply.”
The simplicity translates to a pure elegance. Redwood and golden granite provide the form, with the intentional help of daylight and moonlight.
The exterior construction involves at least nine massive, widely spaced redwood beams (which resemble huge C-clamps) that start under the extended eaves and are cantilevered out from the front of the house. From there, they descend against the outer edge of the full-length deck, and tuck underneath it. The effect is an engineering and visual wonder. Where Wright controlled views of nature by scaling windowpanes down, Evenson’s redwood frames and wide glass walls produce a particular feeling of sheltered openness to nature.
The roof is a high slant toward what Evenson calls ‘the right hill’ (clay and deteriorated granite) into which the entire house is built. Aside from irrefutable sturdiness, building into the earth provides temperature control through the range of seasons. The roof’s shape is transposed into a soaring ceiling with narrow but deep redwood beams and wide spans of fir in between each. The woods throughout the house are fir and redwood, weathered to a silvery poise.
Evenson returned recently, the first time since he sold the house to friends long ago, and inspected places that would indicate any flaw in his design after forty-one years. He found not one. In all that time, owners have known the home’s solidity and the poetry of coupling the solace of nature and manmade beauty.
While Bud Evenson visited, another prior owner of the home (from 1976 to 1986), Joy Ware, arrived for the pleasure of just being there again. To the casual onlooker, a profound sense of admiring attachment remains with people who’ve known this house intimately.
The purely geometric works of Frank Lloyd Wright don’t necessarily engender sentimentality, but clearly Evenson’s do. Proof of the enduring appeal of the house is the length of time each of its owners has lived there. Michael and Lynn Blakey have owned the place for more than 20 years. They say they are selling only because they’re parenting their two grandchildren—one an infant—and recognize the need for a more suburban neighborhood.
The pleasure they’ve felt is not only in the main design, but also in Evenson’s choice of particulars. Wide double doors at the front entry, which open to a living room where the golden granite fireplace and chimney, built under the peak of the ceiling, create a lyrical edifice within the well-planned/unplanned-looking
Evenson continued the granite from the hearth to both ends of the living room at approximately four feet in height. In spaces between the perfectly scaled stones are cisterns of earth for plants, indoor trees, orchids, whatever. The fireplace, the room, the house, the play of light inside and out, all can be described in the vernacular as totally awesome.
Price: $879,000. 4 Castanda Place, Monterey. Contact Sheila Wilson (622-4818) and Dale Thies (622-4817), Sotheby’s International Realty.