Skip to content
August 14, 2011 / Linda Hartong


As Bill and I walk along Scenic Dr, we can not help but admire the silhouette of the Butterfly house jutting out into the Pacific. What a brave place to build a home  where the continent ends. This house must withstand some fierce storms as well as enjoy some spectacular views. Just keeping the windows clean of the salt spray would be a huge task.

The Butterfly house has been a destination for architects, contractors, interior designer and rubbernecking tourists since it was complete in 1951. It is designed by architect  Frank Wynkoop  and built at Carmel Point as a residence for the architect and his family. Constructed just four years after the Frank L. Wright -designed Walker House, the Butterfly House is noted in the Carmel Spectator in 1952 as one of two “Houses of Tomorrow” that represented the “ ‘first oceanside changes’ in Carmel’s aspect in some years.”

It is a one-story , mid-century Modern residence that sits on a rock outcropping above the Pacific Ocean.

The site encompasses two lots, The house is irregular in plan and built around an interior open courtyard.

The distinctive “butterfly” roof faces westward toward the water and the remaining roof sufaces are flat and covered with coarse gravel.

It remained in the Wynkoop family for four years, and do to illness,  is sold to the Kahn family, remaining their home for 50 years until going on the market in 2007 .

Time and the harsh environmental conditions took it’s toll on the exterior of the home. Many changes to the interior took place from the original design such as the demolition of the chimineyless circular fireplace in the living room and the covering over of a sunken seat area along the window overlooking the ocean. The interior Courtyard/pool area had been changed to a flagstone patio after filling in the original kidney-shaped swimming pool.

At the time, it is rumored that VP Dick Cheney had purchased  the property,  but this turned out not to be true.

Thor Wynkoop-architect( son of Frank Wynkoop)is contacted by the new owner and he and his brother Jay Wynkoop-architect provided design service as well as construction documents for the repairs and renovations.  Among other things, they added radiant heating, energy-efficient water and insulation systems and computerized window shades.

The Butterfly House is one of only five true ocean front properties in Carmel. It is anchored directly into the rocky shoreline , a perfect place for some of the most breathtaking view from Point Lobos to Pebble Beach.

It also gives its name to a dive spot that it over looks. A diving website says this site is dynamic, with large rock structures, sheer wall, small canyons and crevices full of sea life all guarded by a giant kelp forest near the shore.

An interior courtyard hides a lovely swimming pool. The pool seems a work of art to me both at night

and during the day while offering spectacular views of the ocean through walls of glass.

The open floor plan provides entertaining spaces that seamlessly from the interior to exterior. 

The bedrooms are small and enjoy the views

 This is not the house to buy if you like to walk around in the “buff”.

The bathrooms are also pretty spectacular

and one area has become a sitting room.

None of this is really visible from Scenic. We look down on the car park area as we walk.

This is more than a “million dollar view”. This view is a $19,200,000.00 dollar view. I guess if one can afford that, paying to keep those windows clean is “chicken feed”.


Leave a Comment
  1. Annie Westlake / Aug 15 2011 5:30 pm

    Spectacular, indeed. (But I’d still rather have a Comstock.) Thanks again, Linda, for taking me on one of your walks.

  2. jeanette sclar / Aug 19 2011 4:37 am

    What a breath-taking place! While I certainly have plenty of “buff” to walk around in, I much prefer not to. Probably because of all that buff!

  3. Thor wynkoop / Sep 29 2011 10:12 pm

    I enjoyed your article about the Butterfly house. It is always a pleasure to hear positive comments about my fathers design. He loved the challenge of every design he ever under took and his technical skills allowed him to dream big. I hope to some day meet you and if possible show you the inside of our family home.
    Looking forward to your future blogs on the Carmel area.


  1. Throwback Thursday: Frank Wynkoop & The Butterfly House

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: