It must have been exciting to be in San Diego at the turn of the 20th century when there was little more than possibility and the power of ambition. Many of those who succeeded built homes on what is now known as Bankers Hill — a residential area on the hills above downtown, with sweeping views of the bay, the airport, Coronado and Mount Soledad.
What stands out about this small area is the number of homes that were built by San Diego’s finest architects of the day, young professionals who went on to innovate and advance architecture in the West and contribute much to San Diego’s most beloved buildings. The names include notables such as Irving Gill, William Hebbard, Richard Requa, Carlton Monroe Winslow and Frank Mead.
Bordered by two deep ravines that are spanned by charming footbridges, Bankers Hill is south of Hillcrest, west of Balboa Park and just east of Interstate 5.
I recently completed the lazy person’s version of the San Diego History Center’s self-guided walking tour of Banker’s Hill by driving around looking for these historic properties.
I was not disappointed.
Victorian, Craftsman, Revival, California Bungalow and Emerging Modern are among the many styles. What was remarkable to me was that so many of the properties and the land they were originally built on remain intact.
All Out on Renovation
The home featured is at 3100 Brant St. and is on the market for just shy of $4.5 million. It was built in 1908 by William Hebbard for Charles Fox. Little is known about Fox except that he came from Iowa in 1905 at the age of 38 and had real estate offices in downtown San Diego. Referred to as a “landmark estate” in the listing by Elizabeth Courtier of Willis Allen Real Estate, it has 8,695 square feet, 6,000 of which were added in 2006 in keeping with the original character of the house. The San Diego Historical Resources Board declared that the home is a “very good example of Craftsman architecture” and designated it eligible for the Mills Act in 2009, which entitles the owner to significant property tax savings.
Courtier has been certified since 2001 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an expert in the intricacies involved in representing historic properties. She has represented a large number of properties by well-known local and international architects, including properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This Brant Street estate sits on one of the best pieces of land — just over an acre — in the area, Courtier said. It’s at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, and when you “walk in the front door and see the ships in the bay, planes landing at the airport and the lights of the downtown skyline, you are immediately aware that you are in a very special home.”
“No expense was spared,” Courtier said of the renovation. “There was an artisan on-site for one year just to build the front and back stairs.”
More for Sale on the Hill
There is a historic property at 3226 Curlew St., also built by William Hebbard, for sale at $4.9 million. Built on a half-acre, it is a 7,595-square-foot Italian renaissance estate built in 1912.
Down along the canyon at 3232 Dove St. is a beautiful walled-in redwood Craftsman, built in 1914, for sale for $1.95 million. The pictures of the grounds on the real estate websites show a serene, Zen garden designed by Sarah Brightwood.
The property is on a half-acre lot. Public records show the home was originally priced at $2.9 million in June 2013 and reduced to its current asking price in December 2013.
For those of you with more energy than this writer, I highly recommend the walking tour of Bankers Hill. It’s worth a trip back into the elegance of San Diego’s past.
Email information on luxury real estate to Stephanie R. Glidden at email@example.com.