Val and I found home in June 2015, around the time we were married. In fact, our realtor Susan found it for us, to our everlasting gratitude. It wasn’t on the market, but she knew that Cade and his partner were thinking about moving to a one-story in Palm Springs. Susan arranged a visit with Val. She fell in love with the place, and so did I when I visited later.
The place was built in 1968. The architectural style, we learned, is “Monterey Colonial.” I knew nothing about it until I happened across a paragraph in Kevin Starr’s 2005 California: A History:
Starr wrote about “gentlemen traders” in the “hide and tallow trade in the 1820s and 30s.” The trade involved shipping “manufactured goods to California” from the east coast, “sea otter pelts to China”, then back to California with “Chinese goods to pick up cattle hides and tallow for shipment back to Boston.” One of the “maritime trading elites” in Spanish and later Mexican California was Thomas Oliver Larkin of Massachusetts, recently of Charleston, South Carolina.
Larkin was a “storekeeper and trader,” and a “skilled carpenter … who built the first two-story house in California.” The house combined “adobe walls, a second-story veranda similar to those in Charleston, and a tile roof. The resulting design, subsequently known as Monterey Colonial, in and of itself expressed the fusion of Mexican and Yankee people’s and traits that was occurring up and down the California coast.”
Our place lacks the tile roof and adobe walls, but it has the salt-water pool that Val dreamed of. The pool’s built around a magnificent olive tree that she’s determined to harvest one of these years. We’re on a hilltop at about 3,200′ elevation, chill enough in winter to enjoy the fireplace.
Cade and partner were not connected to the internet. I was relieved to discover that we’re located on the edge of FIOS coverage. Our fast connection allows me to work at home, which I dearly enjoy.
The front of the house faces north, providing a vista of the San Bernardino mountains. At 11,500′, Mt. San Gorgonio dominates the panorama, and always recalls a stout hike to its summit.