Born in London, England on Sept. 22, 1874, Major Coote was a career army officer and a veteran of both the Boer War and WWI. Upon retiring from the military, he inherited the Coote estate at Ballyfin, Ireland. By then the staff had been halved and then some. The land was being redistributed by law, obliterating the remnants of the feudal age. Ballyfin was no longer the pride of a man’s title. In other words, he couldn’t afford it. And so this huge plantation
which was self-sustaining and highly productive in its day, was passed on to a Roman Catholic teaching brotherhood, the Patrician Brothers. They founded Ballyfin College.
I would love to know the story of how Sir Coote then settled in Carmel, CA in 1932 and took up painting as a hobby. In 1934, he asks Hugh Comstock to build a two-story Tudor influenced home.
It is an example of English Arts and Crafts Architecture and costs $9,500.
In 1935, he adds a Studio for $418.00
Although this home is lovely, it is a far cry from the Coote estate at Ballyfin, Ireland that he inherited in 1920 .
He only lives in this home for 7 years before his death in July, 1941.
I have hunted for this home for some time and finally find it this trip. It sits back from the street. The sparkle of the leaded glass windows catch my eye.
I am up to the front door
where I rap the knocker
and admire the porch light,
and the plantings.
When I find the original elevations, it look much more like a cottage. It is simpler. Now additions and plantings obscure the original design.
I love the way Mr. Comstock has provided a “sectioned” view to show what lies on the other side of the walls. It is like looking into a doll house.
When no one answers, I start around to the side gate. I am tempted to join the “window peeping” ducks, but refrain.
and I push my camera past the bells on the closed gate.
and snap a few shots of the garden.
I backtrack past the garage
to the studio on the north
And ring the bell.
No one answers so I follow a path past two small cottages.
I love the ornamentation.
Wow! Serious gardeners live here. There is a wonderful garden shed
and potting bench tucked away behind a huge oak tree.
What a charming house and patio.
Later at city hall, I find this is an addition and the original home looked like this.
There is even a cross-section drawing so we can peer through the walls.
The back patio is a work of art with its brick walls and floor, wrought iron furnishings and potted plants.
Along the south side of the lot is a mixed border.
This is more formal than most Carmel gardens and reminds me of the formal borders I have seen in England.
Later, at City Hall, I find the landscaping plan.
As I research on the internet, I find that Sir Coote’s estate in Ireland had a magnificent garden with bog, vast lake, deer park and “gardens in the antique style and extensive and elegant”.
The afternoon sun warms the south side of the house.
I pass a fountain
on the way to the gate
Which bears a small metal marker “ Grays Gate”.
The original plans show a smaller home. The first floor is quite elegant with a curving staircase, beamed living and dining rooms and large kitchen.
I love the second floor plan. Each spouse has their own dressing room and bath.
How very civilized. Scenes from Downton Abbey play in my head.
Major Cootes’ former home is now a 5 Star Country House Hotel in Ireland.
I would love to know more of this story.