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January 24, 2011 / Linda Hartong


In 1924 Hugh Comstock came to Carmel to visit his sister Catherine and her husband, George Seideneck, both artists and members of the struggling Carmel Art Association.
While in Carmel, Hugh met Mayotta Browne, who successfully made and sold rag and felt dolls, called “Otsy-Totsys.” Hugh and Mayotta married that year. Buyers from large cities came to place orders for the dolls, which soon filled their house to overflowing. She asked Hugh to build her a cottage to use as a showroom. Hugh was neither a builder nor an architect, but he loved to draw and tinker. He designed and built with Mayotta a whimsical little cottage, Gretel, on Torres near 6th, inspired by the watercolor illustrations of the British children’s book illustrator Arthur Rackham.

The little cottages seemed to grow from the ground they rested on. Hugh purposefully did not use a carpenter’s level, so the lines were untrue and the chimneys crooked.

Hugh’s own studio, built in 1927, corner of Santa Fe and 6th, was inspired by an English country house. The exterior walls are stuccoed and trimmed with wood, irregularly carved, at cornices, windows and doors. The roof is steeply pitched with irregularly-cut shakes. The narrow, tall chalk-rock chimney has a Gothic pot. This is a “sneak peak” at Hugh Comstock’s studio which later became his wife’s residence. It has a beautifully kept garden that discourages the photographer and tourist. Nevertheless….

The lovable little Otsy-Totsy dolls that Mayota made, quickly outgrew the Comstock home. They were seated, stacked and strewn everywhere in the the house. As a result, Carmel’s first fairytale home was built especially for them – with all the charm necessary to delight the hearts of the beholder who know the joys that were contained within.”

Taken from the book -The Fairy Tale Houses of Carmel- by Joanne Mathewson

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are copyright (c) Linda Hartong. All rights reserved.

You may not use any image on this site without my written consent. If you are interested in using a photo from my website for any purpose, please send me a quick message and let me know which photo(s) you are interested in.


Leave a Comment
  1. Monica / Feb 1 2011 8:21 pm

    Gorgeous little homes. All magical.

  2. L Holden / Sep 17 2012 12:29 am

    i want this for my mother n law cottage…..who has the plans?????? Love it!!! I’M SERIOUS.

  3. gpsammons / Oct 1 2013 10:23 pm

    spent many hours working next door to the Tuck Box in the 1980’s to mid 90’s. Best pie on the Monterey Peninsula, Mother ran the restaurant, daughter Gale retailed jams and jellies out of the little house up the stairs. Glad to know more about Hugh Comstock via this website. Thanks

  4. Robert Toms / Nov 4 2017 1:13 pm

    I’d be interested in using some of your images on the site for inspiration as I’m writing a fantasy fiction novel and need some ideas for some of the buildings

    • Linda Hartong / Nov 9 2017 4:25 pm

      Thanks for your interest but my photos are not available for this purpose. Best of luck with your novel

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