Log Haven sits back from 8th Ave. Behind a grape-stake fence . Its setting is informal and heavily planted. Mature shrubs and trees surround it.
Its official name is Dr. Lane’s Log House. It is one of the half-dozen log cabins remaining in Carmel. These were built mainly as vacation homes and meant to blend in with Carmel’s wooded setting.
The first record of this cabin is in 1907. In 1912, photos emerge showing the two-story wing to the south.
The cabin sits on a larger parcel of land and between 1931 and 1944 , four more residences are built.
The cabin is first owned by a Stanford physician, Dr. Levi Cooper Lane
and Dr. Virginia Wickliffe Smiley.
Ida Johnson, Carmel’s first librarian, also lived in the house at some time.
It was in the early 40’s that LaFrenz subdivided and developed them commercially as La Playa’s Cottages by the Sea. – Kent Seavey
They are still a part of La Playa when I first discover them. When La Playa puts the cottages up for sale, a local couple, Farid and Cheryl Assemi buys them. Cheryl has admired them for a long time. “After looking at them for so long, finally getting to go through them, I feel a little bit like Goldilocks,” Assemi observed. “And I decided I really like being an innkeeper”.–The Carmel Pine Cone, November 2011
The front door opens off a large stone patio.
The patio has changed under Cheryl ownership and the iron furniture
Has been replaced by wicker. I love the look
The plantings are thriving under her supervision
The main level has this comfortable looking living room ( love that dutch door)
Formal Dining room. Look at the stairs and coffered beam ceiling
And King bedrooms
And full bath. It is so well done with the pedestal sink and the cute little marble-topped dressing table.
On to my favorite room. The kitchen done in vintage style.
I have a guest author today, Danica’s Shoes, two small suede “Dora Mary Janes”.
When I arrive in Carmel this time and let myself in the cottage, I hear a tapping noise. The shoes are on the dining table tapping their toes impatiently. It appears they have a story to tell me and this is the way they tell it.
“Danica brought us to Carmel. When it is time to go home, we hide under the bed and are left.
The women who clean the house find us , dust us off and put us on a shelf for FOREVER.
This is boring, so one morning we decide to hop down. We put on our favorite socks, the ones with the bows on the back, and head to the kitchen.
We get our plate and find a muffin and a pluot to eat for breakfast.
We put on one of our Dora movies but can not get interested
So we go out to the Garden.
And knock at the door of a tiny house but no one is home to play.
We get our sand bucket and decide to go to the beach.
The street seems too busy so we take the small paths we find as we go along.
Some are mossy.
One has a Toad House, thank goodness he was not home! We hate toads.
Other paths have flowers
Or interesting stones.
This one has pretty petals on it and we can hear the ocean.
It is a long walk but we finally arrive at the beach stairs.
We pass a dog just finishing his walk.
This is so much better than the shelf. People notice us and ask what we are doing and seem to understand we are just here to have a good time.
We forgot how hard it is to walk in the sand but on we go .
There it is! The Beach!
We go down to stick our toes in the foaming surf and are almost swept away. The water feels fresh and cold.
It is time to go home but the stairs are steep. We remember that the last time we were here Danica’s daddy carried us up.
At the top of the stairs we rest a bit and admire the view.
We see a lost yellow shovel and almost take it with us until we remember Danica’s favorite color is pink.
We visit with some “Hello Kitty” flip-flops
Sit on a bench.
And look at the pretty shells on the paths.
On the way home we cut through some back yards . One has this spider!!!
And one has lots of toys.
We are really getting tired so we stop at a blue bench and swing our feet for a while.
We cut through some hidden courtyards.
They all seem to have dog dishes
And we begin to miss our dog at home. She is big and lets us play on her.
A dog named Hudson spots us as we look in the door of his shop and sees how worried we are. He invites us in and holds us gently in his big paws. We feel better after we talk with him.
So we press on. We are so tired when we finally reach our house
That we collapse on the porch and take off our socks.
Boy! What a story we will have to tell Danica when she comes back to get us.”
Many thanks to the shoes for sharing their adventure with us. The story does have a happy ending. The shoes are reunited with Danica, but never forget their trip to Carmel.
It is a lovely morning and I have the car, so I decide to drive up to the NE area of Carmel. This area is extremely hilly ( as in I cannot see over the steering wheel as I climb the hills).
I have been in the library again learning about more homes on the Carmel Register of Historic Places and am heading to a spot where there is a cluster of six homes.
I park in the middle of my treasures, step out and lock the car. Hmm. The home across the street is the cutest cottage- but not on the register.
The owner is out sweeping leaves and pine straw off her driveway.
I meander over to admire her succulent plantings at the base of a huge pine.
“You are in the middle of lots of homes that are Historically Designated.”, I say.
“How did you get excluded?”
And this is when Sibyl Johnson replies, “ I call it “Hysterical”Preservation and I petitioned to have my house removed from the list.” And so she did.
In 1938. Mrs Fleisher obtains a building permit to build a one story guest house and garage using day laborers.
“Its style suggests old New England in its use of a saltbox roof form designed in log cabin mode. It is consistent with the ongoing penchant of Carmel’s owners and builders to employ whimsically combined features associated with a variety of styles in to a single home to create a unique and eclectic whole.” Kent Seavey
A saltbox is a building with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back. I can see this on the front part of the house. This “whimsical” design lands it on the Historic Register in 2001.
It sits at the rear of a deep lot, surrounded by mature redwood trees, oak and pine in a natural landscape setting.
The owners inherit this 640 sq ft. house from their mother. In May 2003, they wish to remodel this 640 sq. ft. cottage and need permission since the home is on Carmel’s Historic Register of Home.
They appeal . “Our house was not built by a recognized master builder, designed by any architect, representative of any specific architectural design, lived in or owned by any famous person nor does it meet any other definable Historical criteria, other than “whimsical”.” Rodney R. Johnson
Apparently “whimsical” is not enough to merit its inclusion on the list and it is removed.
But I love whimsy and ask if I might photograph her garden as we chat.
Sibyl gardens by “benign neglect”. It works wonderfully. She plants and if it survives – good for it.
By this time , I am moving up the path through spires of acanthus so thick I can hardly see the cottage.
Lavender and Agapanthus are happy campers.
There are several artichokes
And short paths.
Closer to the house, it becomes more orderly. There is a raised open porch fronting the house where touches of red are repeated.
The deck reveals Sibyl’s artistry in window box plantings,
Pots and accents. It is here that the whimsical construction becomes clear in the horizontal logs and vertical board and batten.
I like the bird statues. One is obviously more of an early bird that the other who looks grumpy about being awakened.
I walk back down the front path and Sibyl invites me to step into her studio ,once the garage.
Sibyl holds a BA in Education and Fine Art as well as a Master’s degree in Education. After a long career in the classroom she can finally paint full-time and live in her family’s Carmel cottage.
She works in oil, watercolor, pastel and shows me some of her work.
“The Chief Executive of a republic is expected to govern in the public interest and not for his own enrichment or that of his family and friends. The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle, and doing what is right and just.”
Ah, if it were only that simple to decide what is right and just. In June 1920, The City of Carmel-By-The Sea adopts an ordinance declaring it is to be primarily a residential city, wherein business and commerce are subordinated to its residential character.
It is only after being in Carmel for 20 some years that I realize the incredible amount of work and good will it takes to keep this tenuous balance between residential and commercial interests.
Until 1946, the City conducted business from rented space in the Philip Wilson Building.
In 1946, the city council accepted an offer by All Saints Church to buy the church, rectory, parish hall and 2 vacant lots for a permanent city hall. No changes were made until 1953, when architect George Wilcox reworked the building. Other additions were added later resulting in this “dignified shingled complex of steeply-pitched projecting bays”- Kent Seavey.
The current city hall blends in with its residential neighborhood.
And the struggle to balance “the art element” with the “business element” continues.
When I google “who was the first mayor of Carmel?” I am surprised to find that Clint Eastwood pops up. Although I am sure he was not the first mayor, he may have been the first to put Carmel on the map.
He only served one term and ran because City Hall had stymied his development plan for the Eastwood Building.
He did get his building and much more in the process.
“We got things built- beach walkways,
A library annex which had been waiting 25 years and so on. I approached it from a business point of view, not a political one.”- Clint Eastwood
He also made it easier to renovate property, got a tourist parking lot built and remodeled The Mission Ranch, preserving the precious landscape it was on from being used for 80 condominiums.
When we move to Carmel, Sue McCloud is mayor.
She holds that position for 12 years as Carmel’s leader and then retires. She deals with the issues of the future of the fire service, regional water problems, the proposed sale of the Flanders Mansion and a tough economy. A former CIA Agent, she is a mayor faced with many controversial issues.
How does one keep diversity of shops and restaurants in a town only 1 mile square?
How does one decide which buildings are historically significant
and which can be altered
How does one satisfy residents who want home mail delivery while others like things just the way they always have been, with residents dropping by the post office to turn the antique brass knobs on their antique oak mailboxes?
Today I am again heading to city Hall. The door to the council chambers is open
And I take a moment in chambers.
Back out, I head to my usual spot in Community Planning and Building.
I take time to enjoy the new landscaping funded by a grant made by Constance Meach Ridder.
The railing resemble tree branches
A patio outside the door is a great spot to take a moment to enjoy the fountain and beautifully planted garden.
And of course, being Carmel, there is a hitching post for your dog.
I am in the door and up to my usual window where Margi Perotti , Code Enforcement Officer and Leslie Fenton, Administrative Coordinator, kindly take time to find the folders of homes and businesses I am blogging about.
They deal with problems about a parking space.
Resolve issues on signage.
And handle Building Permits.
Among 1,000 other issues.
Carmel’s newest Mayor, Jason Burnett, happens to be here today and we have a short chat.
35-year-old Burnett lists his home phone on the city Web page, and passes out business cards with his cell phone number.
“Burnett is a native of Carmel Valley, the son of two Monterey Bay marine biologists who helped found theMonterey Bay Aquarium and used him as the model to size the exhibits to child’s eye level.
His grandfather is David Packard, co-founder of Silicon Valley tech giant Hewlett-Packard.
After a month in the mayor’s chair, he’s already started making good on his campaign promises of more transparency in city government. In May, he held his first monthly roundtable meeting with residents, and he gave council members the power to put items on the agenda, rather than vetting them through the mayor’s office first.
“The reason we don’t have mail delivery in Carmel is because this town is designed to create community at places like the post office, so we take care of each other,” he said.
Burnett has enlisted “Fast Food Nation” author Eric Schlosser, to help establish an outdoor food market in Carmel with the local growers and fishers from the area.
“We live in this incredible bread basket, and we don’t have a farmers’ market!” he said.
It’s one of the first things on his mayoral to-do list.”
So to all mayors, councils, and citizens – Thanks for all your efforts to keep Carmel primarily residential while trying to let business and commerce prosper. Not easy but certainly worth your efforts.
A Pristine Beach
A Thriving Culture
The Golden Bough
The Sunset Theater
The Carl Cherry Center
The Carmel Art Association
Public works of Art
Two Public Libraries
Diversified shopping tucked into charming courtyards
and Preservation of Historically Important architecture
In 1928 , eastern investor, W.O. Swain convinces The Carmel City Council to allow him to develop a small, five-unit subdivision based on the English garden city plan. Mr. Swain rearranges his lots and the cottages so that instead of standing on narrow wedges, city fashion,they are grouped together with a feeling of spaciousness about them as in a park. He shortens and widens the lots. And he asks Hugh Comstock to build them. The five houses form the largest single concentration of Comstock fairy-tale cottage left in Carmel.
I would love to see this open shared garden plan, but when I investigate, I find each home has fenced in its own garden.
Roger and Kathy Sanger, the owners of Fables, mention that they have restored their cottage garden and invite me to tour it and share it with you.
The Sangers are proud of their little treasure and are restoring the house as well. In fact most of the Comstock’s are being updated.
I peer through the branches of the oak tree and see little Fables
I descend from street level already liking the ivy being trained along the railing and under the eaves of the cottage.
This patio tucks into the front yard sheltered by the oak and the Carmel Stone wall. It is not visible from the street right above.
From here I look to the south and see the patio
Of Doll’s House
It is easy to see how this once could have been a shared open space.
Fables opens to the south side- not to the street.
There is the traditional Comstock porch light. A delicate tracery of vines is being trained on the trellis.
The Sea Horse door knocker is polished.
I don’t remember this name plate. It is handsome.
They have a door bell shaped like a bull’s head. The bell hangs from the horns.
I peek over the gate. A charming patio sits at the SW corner. The latticework walls covered with vines gives it privacy from Doll’s House directly to its south.
There are lots of little accents to discover such as these lights.
Bold colors add punch.
From here I can look up and see the wonderful
Windows on the south side.
To the east I have a framed view of the front yard
And to the west the back patio
Opens up to the back yard. Beyond the fence is the garden of The Birthday House.
The frog soaks up the sun
Potted plants hang from the garden walls
And fun accents tuck in everywhere I look.
Back up the path and stairs
I go next door north to The Birthday House.
Love the bench
The back garden consists of a deck ( see Fables over the fence).
And a lower patio. I glimpse the roof of Honeymoon next door.
I admire the north profile of the home
And then go west down the hill to Honeymoon.
New roof, recent fence . How about this gate?
A small patio tucks into the front yard
And a handsome garden is beginning in the side and back yards.
I can easily see how they could share yards.
Wish I could have seen this in the 20’s. Perhaps a shared rope swing for the kids , a picnic table , a vegetable garden and some chickens. I bet the kids talked to each other from open bedroom windows.
The garden city movement is a method of urban planning that was initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by “greenbelts“. The garden city would be self-sufficient and when it reached full population, another garden city would be developed nearby. Howard organized the Garden City Association in 1899.
As I photograph gardens and talk with their owners, it becomes clear that not all Carmel gardens enjoy equal growing conditions although all are in Zone 10 A.
Gardening zones are determined by temperature. But here wind, salt air, and sandy or rocky soil play a huge role. And these conditions can be quite different just 3 or 4 blocks in from the ocean.
The gardeners of Cypress House
And Kuster -Meyer House
Have less protection from the elements and they choose their plant palette accordingly.
5 blocks from the beach, # 5 Casanova has many more plants to choose from.
As does the Lincoln Green Inn.
This trip, I notice this lush garden.
I am so impressed that I leave a note on the front door asking if I might photograph the garden. The owner, Teri Morrell calls back. She laughs when I tell her I am amazed at the variety of her plantings. She jokingly says that they live in the “Banana Belt”. A Banana Belt is any segment of a larger geographical area that enjoys warmer weather than the region as a whole.
This is a very talented gardener. Let me show you around.
This is what I refer to as a “plantswoman’s garden”.
These tend to be highly dynamic gardens as the latest must-have varieties and hybrids keep claiming their place in the border. So much is going on that the design is crucial, but temptation frequently thwarts the good intentions of the master plan.
Seats and arbors are a good way of punctuating planted areas, while a network of paths makes the borders inviting places to meander through. The charm is that these gardens are labors of love, with hours spent cherishing them.
This is the front entrance to Teri’s garden. It is clearly defined by the rose covered arbor
Irish yew and boxwood hedges form the parterre beds that delineate the front of the garden.
The path work lends structure, although it is fast disappearing in spots where the plants spill about happily.
I push past a climbing rose
And start down the path to my left
The bench at the end serves as a focal point as I wind my way through pink hydrangea, purple heliotrope, verbascum, wallflower and dahlias. The bees are in seventh heaven.
A birdbath is tucked into the dense plantings.
Now I make my way to the right of the trellis.
I pass pink roses and Alstroemeria
And this amazing sight. Boxwood, barberry, yew, heliotrope, pink and orange roses and yellow santolina in bloom.
There is another entrance from the driveway marked by a conical boxwood.
I love this mix of roses and lochroma
The garage window box shows off fuchsia, fern and Abutilon.
The stacked stone arch between the house and garage invites me to the large patio.
The patio is level with the house but a narrow planting bed is reached through this arch covered with clematis and roses.
Could these roses be happier?
I surprise a quail and her babies. She flutters off the birdbath
And quickly moves them into the Santa Barbara daisies .
Surely the birds must love this garden with multiple birdbaths and sheltering plants.
I follow the lower path to the garage and climb the stairs back up to the patio.
As you can imagine, the scent of the roses is is delightful.
The flagstone path going back to the driveway is bordered by azalea, camellia, roses, purple senecio, and pink abutilon.
Isn’t this a lovely sight. Thanks Teri for letting me tour.
“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”
Elizabeth Armstrong has been watching Hugh Comstock build homes and she likes what she sees. In 1928 , she asks him to build her a cottage. It will cost $1,900 and be 18 by 36 feet in size. She builds on a lot near his other homes and names it “Our House”.
“The Santa Fe frontage now masks much of the cottage behind mature shrubbery and trees.
The garden is formal with trimmed hedges and planting beds traversed by Carmel stone walkways.” Kent Seavey
“Our House” has the distinction of being the only Comstock home to be replicated for a second client, Elspeth Rose whose “Sunwise Turn” cottage on Palou is commonly called the “TheTwin on Palou.”
“Both are irregular in plan and the exterior wall are textured stucco , over felt.
There is a large, exterior gable wall chimney of Carmel stone centered in the east elevation .” Kent Seavey
This is reinterpreted in Sunwise Turn.
“Our House” sits on a narrow lot and opens to the north side.
It is typical of many Comstock’s that they do not open on the street side. Elizabeth’s choices of lighting,
shutters and window boxes are much more feminine in appearance than Elspeth’s.
Each have a wide bank of windows on the entry side.
The Armstrong house has only a narrow space in front
While “ the twin” sits on a pie shaped double lot and has room for a meandering path and cottage garden.
I retrace my steps to see the south side of the cottage. I dearly love the pink stucco and green window boxes and shutters with heart cut-outs.
The grape stake fence displays potted plants in a tangle of vines.
A huge tree protects the house.
French doors with shutters open to the patio.
“In 1940 , Hugh Comstock adds a guest house at the SW corner of the property and in 1958 a small addition to the rear of the original kitchen connects the main building to the guest house.” Kent Seavey
I am now back around to the east street-facing window .
Down the path
Past a rustic bird house
And through the gate.
This little cottage is part of the Comstock Historic District. This district has the highest concentration of Comstock’s homes during his most imaginative period between 1924 and 1929.