Lovingly restored and expanded home is pure-form Frank Lloyd Wright.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The year 1906 saw the rise of an island in Monterey, not from the sea but from the forest above it, an outcropping surrounded by nothing remotely like it then, or now. There stands a Frank Lloyd Wright house, designed from his 1905 cabin drawings done competitively against another architect to show who was the better designer. When a gentleman came to the firm wanting a cabin in the forest built for his wife’s birthday, Wright handed over his drawings, and thus began a story of generosity, faith, respect and a burning passion that has culminated in pure-form Wright.
The couple enjoyed the cabin until 1948 when they gave it to a church group. During the 20-some years as a church, it also was offered as a home to needy families, a generosity that continued even when the church moved on. In 1985, a widowed mother needing income began accepting boarders in the two-bedroom, one-bath cabin, no longer in a forest. The first tenant was Riccardo Giuliano. Soon he, his wife, Laura, and their children bought the house. They have restored it far beyond any scale Wright envisioned. There are now four bedrooms, three baths and three fireplaces (living room, master bedroom and sanctuary).
“I became a Wrightophile while renting in ‘85,” says Giuliano. He has spent 20 years replicating Wright’s designs to the last detail. The Giuliano home is 3003 square feet made of redwood and Santos mahogany, the second hardest wood known, and massively heavy.
“We enlarged rooms that had become enclosed porches over the years,” Giuliano says. “And we built two additions.” Both reveal the perfection seen throughout, the first being the master suite with private library, the second a spacious one-bedroom, bath and office downstairs, which runs the length of the house. Giuliano says, “Here, I wanted Wright’s elemental concept of earth, air, fire and water.” After indicating the stone floor, Giuliano continues, “We have open-air windows (all windows and skylights in the house repeat Wright’s leaded-glass designs) and waterfalls bracketing the fireplace.” The room is profoundly silent. “This is a sanctuary,” Giuliano says.
Most important, he says, “is continuing the century-long love of giving. I restored the house through a connection with God and charity, making it a place for people to experience their physical, emotional and spiritual enrichment here. Everything is a reflection of wonder and beauty so that any point is one of meditation.”
The family has lovingly lived here through all restorations, yet the house could be a museum of Wright’s work. Evidence of such is visible just passing on the street. The facade is an unmitigated Frank Lloyd Wright design with his stunning leaded-glass signature windows. The foyer offers an original bedroom to the right and an office where a porch once stood to the left. The living room is a wonder with leaded glass and upholstery copies of Wright designs. All the wood is Douglas fir and plaster, meeting in precision, thereby eschewing caulking, among other absolute adherences to the restoration.
For example, the kitchen is a masterpiece of 1906 Wright combined with today. There’s a Dacor eight-burner stove and oven, a Miele dishwasher and GE Monogram refrigerator. And, like in all rooms, there are storage spaces that seem hidden within the walls, disguised as part of them. Beautifully etched copper rims the counters, and double doors open to the deck with bay views and a hot tub. Frank Lloyd Wright surely would approve of his Monterey island
Price: $1,875,000. 106 W. Franklin St., Monterey. Contact David Bindel, John Saar Properties. 238-6152.