Integrity of 1910 Salinas home reflects the contractor’s high standards.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Adecade ago, Bill and Simin Grimm bought the 1910 house to refurbish and live in while they fixed it up. Then, they stayed. Impossible as it seems, during their house hunt they asked to see several early-1900s houses, one being Steinbeck’s, but no realtors responded. Simin Grimm says, “We got stood up, refused, our phone calls weren’t returned… it was frustrating.” All things in good time; today this house is their treasure.
It’s a California neo-classical, tailored and serenely handsome in its own artistic genus, though often confused with bungalows or craftsman-style homes. Contractor J.J. Bevans was roundly praised for the integrity of his work and use of his natural architectural design sense, thus holding his place in Salinas history. Bevans’ houses weren’t identical but decidedly recognizable: their square footprints containing 1-1/2 stories, hipped roofs and centered dormers, and deeply recessed porches balustraded by symmetrical columns. Each was framed with clear heart redwood, the exteriors done with narrow lengths of shiplap siding– particular cuts in the same piece of wood making flush joints. Bevans’ brilliant reputation was earned by his uniquely staunch construction.
The Grimm house reiterates that unequivocally. Two years shy of a century old, standing through earthquakes et al, it nevertheless required no structural amending. Even original oak/pine chevron floors whisper nary a sound, the walls as solid as ever.
Entering the home lands a visitor in the time of its birth. Coved ceilings are 15 feet high, the walls trimmed with thin crown molding a yard beneath. Doors and windows are framed with deep, wide, hard oak, each top lateral piece a miniature mantle. Obtuse long bay windows are lovely.
One of Bevans’ acclaimed ideas is the flow from room to room, sometimes between one another. Each doorway opens to the short hallway centering the interior. Three bedrooms and two baths, formal parlor, living room, dining room, butlers’ pantry, kitchen and large open area with a door to the back porch occupy the main floor (1,830 square feet). The basement (post and beam and entered from outside via a predatory “watch-your-head” descent) became Bill Grimm’s shop during love’s labors. One example: He opened the attic and expanded it into a single 440-square-foot room complicit with the above dormer. Delightfully, lots of clear heart redwood 18 inches wide and 20 feet long found behind the lath was used to widen the floor.
Downstairs, examples of some cool details are the big telephone room with built-ins, an iron claw-foot tub (not original) in the master bath, as well as the original 1910-sized stove surround of narrow sea-green tiles in the living room.
The gardens on the 8,700-square-foot lot seem casual but are magnificently designed for opulent privacy. Huge avocado, redwood, willow and holly trees are visually impenetrable and divinely shady. A plenteous grape arbor (seating within) is a favorite of Simin’s. “The leaves are delicious and I make dolmas with them,” she says. Only a booklet could articulate the variety of stunning plants and flowers, a garden that risks fostering some sort of blessed addiction.
Full disclosure: the extreme seclusion is important; apartment buildings line three sides. Although currently being gentrified and reconstituted, the neighborhood remains mixed-use, Simin says.
The Grimm’s home is an island on California Street West, the best possible example of what a city residential/mixed-use location can be.
Price: 599,000. 218 California St., Salinas. Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty. Contact Sharon Christensen, 915-4514, or Jack Hoss, 214-9799.