Belle House, Carmel Heritage Society,, Michael J. Murphy, The First Murphy House

Carmel Heritage Society House and Garden Tour 2015 – Part 1 – First Murphy House & Belle House

First Murphy House 
Lincoln and 6th Avenue

Eight houses were on this years House and Garden Tour. Our first house is home to the Carmel Heritage Society, The First Murphy House was built in 1902 by 17 year old Michael J. Murphy.

In 1900 Emma Murphy brought her 15 year old son and 10 year old daughter to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Emma had read about this new village and believed her son Michael, a trained carpenter, would easily find work.  By 1902 he was working for Frank Devendorf building homes in Carmel and became the chief builder for the Carmel Development Company in 1904. 

Over 300 buildings are attributed to Michael J. Murphy, The First Murphy House being his first.  Built for his mother and sister, The First House was moved through the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea two times and finally settled in its current location on Lincoln where in 1992 the house was completely restored by Congleton Architect AIA.  

Belle House 
4 NE of Ocean on Camino Real 

The Belle House sits back on a lot sheltered by the

rambling limbs of 23 oak trees that are almost 100 years old. 

Belle House was built by Michael J. Murphy in 1922 for J. Kleugel, an early building tradesman in Carmel. 

This Monterey Colonial style home with cantilevered balcony over the front entrance had remained little altered until the current owners lovingly restored the home – carefully adhering to its historical roots. 

The garage lean-to (which can be seen on the left side of the picture above taken in 2001) was added in 1930.  Today this is a galley-style kitchen

and breakfast room.  The ceiling beams are reclaimed wood from the lean-to garage and the 150 year old flooring and accent tiles in the breakfast room were reclaimed from other demolitions. 

The original garage doors were also re-purposed and now slide like a barn door 


separating the living/dining area from the kitchen.   

A cozy conversational area with fireplace 

and guest bedroom complete the first floor. 

From the outside, the foot print of the old lean-to garage has received a restoration/addition 

adding living space to the second floor – now a beautiful wall to wall master suite.  The bathroom features the original claw-foot tub 

while antique furniture and statuary

 whisper peace and comfort in the master suite. 

Just outside the gate to Belle House it is time to head north on Ocean Avenue and south on Dolores to Stonehaven.  

Next up, part 2 – Stonehaven, Pope House, and Banyon Hideaway

Highlights of the eight homes of the 2015 House and Garden Tour can be viewed in the following video. 

Google map of location of houses may be viewed here.  

Black and white photo courtesy of Carmel City Hall Building Department files. 

All the color photos by L. A. Momboisse.

Carmel, Carmel Heritage Society, Carmel History,, Michael J. Murphy

First Murphy House – Home of the Carmel Heritage Society

Michael J. Murphy

Born on June 26, 1885, Michael J. Murphy was one of the twelve children of Michael and Emma of Minden, Utah.  He grew up on the family cattle and horse ranch in Utah until his father’s untimely death in a horse accident in 1893. 

The ranch became too much for Emma and her five unmarried children, so she moved the family to Los Angeles.  Here Michael learned the trade of carpentry. 

In 1900 Emma learned of a small settlement starting up near Monterey, called Carmel-by-the-Sea and decided to take Michael and his ten year old sister Myrtle north for a visit. They traveled by train to Monterey and then took a stagecoach over the hill to Carmel. 

In 1902 Mr. Murphy built his first home, for his mother and sister.  By 1904 he had become associated with Franklin Devendorf as a builder for Carmel Development Company. 

Franklin Devendorf had purchased much of the land in Carmel and was subdividing and selling the parcels. He wanted to sell the lots with homes.  So in 1903 Devendorf ordered 100 “portable houses,” to put on the lots he had for sale.  What was delivered however, were 100 doors.

Devendorf used the doors to create one house. (Insistently this house, “Door House,” still exists and will be part of the Carmel Heritage Society House and Garden Tour 2014.)  But Franklin Devendorf needed more than one house for all the lots he had for sale.  So he asked young M. J. Murphy who had only built one house, to help him build the houses he needed.    

Murphy developed his own designs and did most of the building himself. As his reputation grew, more and more people wanted Murphy homes.  “In 1914 he became a general contractor and in 1924, he established M. J. Murphy, Inc., a business which sold building supplies, did rock crushing and concrete work, and operated a lumber mill and cabinet shop business situated between San Carlos and Mission streets.” (1)  The lumber mill was located where the Wells Fargo Bank and parking lot are today, and the lumber yard where the Carmel Plaza is today.    

Over 300 buildings in Carmel are attributed to Michael J. Murphy, most notably The Highlands Inn, the Carmel Art Association, the Harrison Memorial Library, the Pine Inn, Sea View House and First Murphy House.  Murphy’s influence on the character of both residential and business districts was tremendous.  

Mr. Murphy was also hired by Robinson Jeffers to build Tor House.  During the first stage of construction Jeffers studied under Murphy as an apprentice.  After learning all the trades, Jeffers went on to finish the house and build Hawk Tower.

Mr, Murphy retired in 1941 and turned his business over to his son Frank. Today, M. J. Murphy, Inc is operated by his grandsons out of Carmel Valley.  

First Murphy House

Michael J. Murphy was not a proponent of any particular style when he built his first house for his mother and sister in 1902.  This home, an 820 square foot cottage, is a mixture of Victorian (Queen Anne bay windows) and a Craftsman Bungalow (rectangular single story style).

Over the years the home was remodeled, moved, and eventually ended up in the middle of the commercial district on Mission between Fifth and Sixth for use as a storage unit.

In 1990 Murphy’s first house was purchased by developers who planned on tearing it down.  

With the lack of funds, need for a new location for the house, and the developers pressuring for demolition, the odds of saving the house seemed insurmountable. 

But Carmelites can be tenacious.  To save the house from demolition, and with the support of the Carmel Heritage Society, the citizens of Carmel formed the First Murphy Foundation, which raised $16,000 for the relocation of First Murphy House.  

The City of Carmel offered city-owned property at Sixth and Lincoln for the relocation site, and the house was declared historical.  

One morning residents awoke to find the
First Murphy House rising above the trees,

being transported through town
 (almost as if leading a parade),

and deposited at its present location
 next to what would become First Murphy Park.

After relocation, renovation of the little cottage began. Project Architect, Brian Congelton of Congleton Architect,  spent a great deal of time insuring that the First Murphy House would conform to its original design. 

The project was completed in the summer of 1992 and First Murphy House became the home and welcome center for Carmel Heritage Society.  

Inside visitors will find a living history museum of Carmel.  They may also purchase the video Don’t Pave Main Street.  This video on Carmel history is narrated by former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea Clint Eastwood.

Also available for purchase is The Comstock Fairy Tale Cottages of Carmel, by Joanne Mathewson, the second edition, published by Carmel resident Stephanie Ager Kirz of White Dog Press.  

 First Murphy House
Welcome Center 
Carmel Heritage Society 

Next History of Carmel Heritage Society and First Murphy Park

(1) Hale, Sharron Lee. A Tribute to Yesterday (Valley Publishers Santa Cruz, 1980), 20.

Photo CreditsPhotographs – L. A. Momboisse – Except those listed below: 

– Black and White Photo of M. J. Murphy with wife and children, 1910. (M. J. Murphy Hardware Carmel Valley)
– Black and White Photo of M. J. Murphy with his mother and sister in front of First Murphy House. (Harrison Memorial Library Local History Department)

– Three Color Photos of First Murphy House relocation. (Harrison Memorial Library Local History Department)
– Black and White Photo of the dedication of First Murphy House as Carmel Heritage Welcome Center.  Pictured (l to r) Susan Draper, Lacy Buck, Carmel Heritage President Kay Prine, Burney Threadgill, Glenn Leidig, and Jean Draper.  Prine holds a plaque dedicating the house to the late Carmel philanthropist and first President of Carmel Heritage Society, Virginia Stanton. (Deborah Sharp, “Carmel Heritage Officially Opens Welcome Center.”  Carmel Pine Cone, (1992).

All the Way, Carmel, Carmel Heritage, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Forest Cottage, Frederick Bigland, Historical Home, Holly Oak Cottage,, Michael J. Murphy, Society

Carmel by the Sea House and Garden Tour 2013 – Part 2 – Carmel-by-the-Sea

House and Garden Tour 2013 
Part 2 

Forest Cottage 
Mountain View and Santa Rita 

Our house tour continues with Forest Cottage built by architect Frederick Bigland, located directly across the street from the Forest Theater and a few blocks north of the entrance to Mission Trail Nature Preserve, both deserve a wander when more time permits.

Fredrick Bigland began his career as an architect/builder in Northern England at the turn of the 20th century.  He left England for the United States seeking a climate which he hoped would provide him relief from his asthma. Stopping first in Santa Barbara Mr. Bigland then moved on to Carmel-by-the-sea, building several homes similar in appearance to his own on Mountain View and Santa Rita.
The Biglands were very active in the Carmel community, their only child, Mary, married a young lawyer, Eben Whittlesey, who went on to serve Carmel-by-the-Sea as mayor from 1962 to 1964. 
When Frederick Bigland arrived in Carmel in the mid-twenties, the “Storybook Fairytale” sub-style of Tudor architecture had been well established by Hugh Comstock.  Mr. Bigland brought his own storybook Tudor style from England and incorporated it into “Forest Cottage” which he built for $1500 for himself and his wife in 1926.

There are an abundance of beautiful Coastal Live Oak trees that thrive on this property; with crooked wide-spreading limbs they shade much of the cottage.
Mr. Bigland’s Storybook Tudor style is evident before entering Forest Cottage with the exterior a combination of smooth cement stucco and false half timbering 
framing the front multi-paned
 leaded-glass window
and the gabbled roof line which “rolls over” the arched entry door of vertical wood panels with wrought-iron studding.  
The roof is laid with oversize shakes
 and a Carmel Stone chimney has
 been randomly arranged around red bricks
which continue into the basement foundation.

The original home built in 1926
 was rectangular in shape 

 centered around the fireplace.
Today this consists of  a living
and dining area. 
The wood-pane oriel window, 
wall niche, window seat,
wall paneling and stained glass are all
original  to the home built 1926. 
In 1928 at a cost of $250, Mr. Bigland added a bedroom and bath, 216 square feet to the west side of his  residence.  This cute little bathroom still has the original colorful ceramic tiles. 
Two years later Frederick Bigland added
 an 8 by 10 foot kitchen off the
 east side of the dining room.

Over the years the kitchen was updated, 
but the ornate stained glass window
is original to Biglands 1930 addition.
Forest Cottage was known as Hermes House during the 1970’s, and more additions were made by various owners, until the current owners took possession in 2010 and embarked on a major remodel which we had the pleasure of enjoying during the Carmel House and Garden Tour.  
I have two favorite places which may not exactly be historical additions, but they certainly add to the current charm of the property.  
Off the basement bonus room
embedded in the foundation
 the Cave a Vins 
  In Carmel, every inch of space is important.
In my opinion, this space was put to good use. 
My second favorite spot, the back yard, where Robert Stowe Shuler has built a charming outdoor Carmel Stone fireplace, bench and wood holder.
Next up “All The Way” a classic American Foursquare or “Prairie Box” home that I have walked by for 40 years but never actually seen past the fence.   
All The Way 
 Casanova the 13th 
There are many homes in Carmel that are completely sheltered from view.  All the Way is one of those homes.  Since the mid-1960’s I have walked past the corner of Casanova and 13th on the way to the beach.  Until two years ago, when the current owners began a total home and garden restoration, the outside fence was covered by bamboo and other thick foliage.  

What was behind this fence all along has a rich history dating back to 1905 when, according to Carmel City Records the first structure an American Foursquare  was erected on this 8,000 square foot lot.  
The undated photo below, courtesy of Harrison Memorial History Library, shows the house from 13th Avenue with (albeit hard to see) exterior wall cladding of wood shingle and medium-pitched hipped roof with hipped roof dormers on the west and south elevation.

The wood single siding is more clearly visible (to the left) in the current photo below of the west elevation taken from behind the fence during the House and Garden Tour.

All the Way is historically significant on the California Register under two criteria, first because the Foursquare style is considered a good example of Carmel’s early residential architecture.  Essentially a pattern book design, a Foursquare home, could actually be ordered from Sears in the early 1900’s, and then shipped via boxcar, all parts pre-cut and numbered for self-assembly, with a book of directions a la Ikea but on a grander scale.

The second reason for its historical significance is because of the contribution of the first two owners of the house, Mary A. Connolly, and the Frederick W. Search family. Little is known about the first owner, Mary A. Connolly, except that she was an active member in the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club and the International Dutch Markets which began in 1905.

Much more is known about the Search family. Frederick W. Search (1853-1932), was a noted educator, amateur musician and author.  Though best known for his books on the public school system, including An Ideal SchoolThe Individual in Mass Education and The Ethics of the Public School, I could not find then on the Internet.

His son, Frederick Preston Search (1889-1959), went beyond amateur musician, beginning at age 10 when he sold poultry in Pueblo, Colorado to earn enough money to purchase his first cello.  By 13, he was touring as a boy prodigy transcontinentally playing his cello.  The next year his parents sent him to study music in Germany, then two years at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, four years at the Cincinnati College of Music and five years back in Germany studying under cello instructor Julius Klengel. In 1914, after 12 years of intense classical musical training, Frederick Preston’s family moved to Carmel, where Frederick Preston went on to direct the orchestra at the old Del Monte Hotel from 1920 to 1932.

The first record of the Search family and All the Way shows up when a permit was purchased in 1921 to add a room, shown below, to the northeast corner of the home clad with horizontal shiplap siding.

Kaye Burbank Scott lived in the house for the longest period of time, from the 1950’s till her death in 2010.  It was her son and husband that built some of the other additions and the original garage.  In 1963 the house and zen garden were featured in Sunset Magazine.

In 2011 the current owners beautifully restored this home to its original state with board and batten interior wall finishing and fir floors, in the living room,


dining room,

 and first bedroom.
The kitchen, addition to the original Foursquare in 1960, received board and batten walls and fir floor to match.
 Windows were restored
 using the original glass, and 

 one hundred years of paint was removed from the exterior of the fireplace to expose original clinker brick.

A new guest room was
 added to the back of the 1957 garage. 

Crooked split limbs
 from numerous Coastal Live Oaks, 

and one majestic Coastal Redwood
shade the tranquil new garden design by the owner and architect and completed by Roarke Craven of Carven Landscaping.  Beginning at the front entrance join me as I walk the garden path around the perimeter of All the Way.

Climbing roses traverse
 the wood shingle
and point to the guest cottage
 through the medal wind sculpture.  

Off the kitchen is a cozy sitting area 
next to a red leaf Japanese maple,  
and a uniquely constructed fireplace 
with river rock found
 scattered around the yard. 

In the northwest corner is a fountain reminiscent of the Zen garden on this property in the 1960’s and

finally, my favorite accent, a tepee constructed of willow branches for the climbing roses.  I might just have to try this myself.

Leaving “All the Way” we are on our way to “Holly Oak Cottage” a few blocks up 13th, on Dolores.  
Holly Oak Cottage 
Dolores between 12th and 13th 
Behind the wooden gate
 with flower box accent,
lies the lovely English style
 garden of Holly Oak Cottage
yet another home built by
 the prolific Michael J.Murphy
this one a Saltbox style
Much of  Mr. Murphy’s original 1172 square foot home built of redwood and stucco in 1926 for $5,000 still exists.  Reached by stairs from the living room 
is the original master with an entire wall lined with three pairs of six light French windows facing Point Lobos and what I am sure are spectacular sunsets. 
Off the living room 
is a kitchen remodeled in 1979 by then owner Westley Martinez.

Mr. Martinez also added a second story
 master bath, fireplace, and walk-in closet,
which would be to the right of the French windows. 
In 1998 and 2006 there were more renovations 
and additions to the back of the house,
 such as the covered balcony. 
The garden also received a renovation in 1998 and 2006.
I enjoyed the way it was divided into sections.
One for conversation, 
one for warmth, 
and finally one for solitude. 
The borders are blooming 

and the sheep are grazing. 
My favorite accents at the Holly Oak Cottage and Garden 
are the window boxes
and the original light fixtures
seen on many of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Comstock’s homes. 

Next we are off to our last two properties Hob Nob, thought to be built by Hugh Comstock and Carmel Cottage Inn, five darling historic homes just a few minutes walk to the beach or downtown that may be rented for a weekend or more. I reviewed this property in December last year for the Carmel Inns of Distinction.

House and Garden Tour 2013 Part 1 – First Murphy House, Hugh W. Comstock Residence, A Storybook Cottage

House and Garden Tour 2013 Part 3 – Hob Nob, Carmel Cottage Inn


Black and white photo of Forest Cottage, Kent L. Seavey Preservation Consultant, taken 6/20/2002, provided by Carmel-by-the-Sea city records.

Drawings are from Carmel-by-the-Sea City Hall records

All other photos by L. A. Momboisse

A Storybook Cottage, Carmel, Carmel Heritage Society, Historical Home,, Hugh Comstock, Hugh W. Comstock Residence, Michael J. Murphy, Obers, The First Murphy House

Carmel by the Sea House and Garden Tour 2013 – Part I – Carmel by the Sea

On an unseasonably sunny day in mid June, I set on the Carmel Heritage Society’s House and Garden Tour sponsored by Sotheby’s International Realty  and Village Corner Restaurant to explore eight of Carmel’s historical and quaint cottages. The owners of these homes meticulously care for them and have graciously opened their front gate and front doors to the community. It is a marvelous opportunity to learn more about the architects that built the first homes in Carmel-by-the-Sea as well as discover how we can continue to preserve these buildings, which are “ours to protect,” through the Carmel Heritage Society.    

We will be touring the work of three creative Carmel architects, two of which I have written extensively on before. You may read more about their life and work in my past posts on Michael J. Murphy and Hugh W. Comstock.  

The First Murphy House 
Lincoln and 6th Avenue

Built by Michael J. Murphy when he was 17 years old, the 111 year old First Murphy House is an 829 square foot cottage that today houses the office for the Carmel Heritage Society, a non-profit organization serving the community of Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Their mission is to protect, preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the community in a way that encourages public recognition and participation so that people will have a greater knowledge and appreciation of the community of Carmel and its sphere of influence.

In 1990 when the First Murphy House was facing the possibility of demolition, the Carmel community came together and formed the First Murphy House Committee under the auspices of the Carmel Heritage Society.

With the committee’s efforts, $16,000 in donations were quickly raised to save Mr. Murphy’s first architectural achievement, and this home was literally lifted up by a crane, transported through town (almost as if leading a parade) and deposited into its present location next to what became First Murphy Park.

The newest addition to the grounds of the First Murphy House is a commemorative bench dedicated in honor of Enid Sales, a historic preservationist, who was also instrumental in the community effort to save  First Murphy House.   

With a filtered view of Carmel Bay, First Murphy Park and Gardens sits adjacent to First Murphy House.

The meandering paths and benches make it a lovely place to sit and have lunch.  In the southwest corner, down the stairs from the upper deck there are public restrooms. 

My favorite part of the park is “The Valentine” a bronze sculpture by George Wayne Lundeen of an 

elderly couple sitting quietly, their heads leaning together in a comfortable gesture of compatibility, the woman holds a heart shaped valentine, and they both appear lost in a daydream of years filled with shared memories.  

But, no time to sit and daydream,
 we have places to be and homes to see.

 Hugh W. Comstock Residence
 NE Corner Torres & Sixth 

Formerly known as “Obers” this whimsical storybook style residence has reclaimed its Comstock designation with a new name, the Hugh W. Comstock Residence.   Built in 1925 for $1,000 this residence was just that, the private home of Hugh and his wife Mayotta, who lived there until Hugh’s death in 1950.

A new roof was completed just a few days before the house tour by  Alcal Specialty Contracting, Inc.  The roofers worked cautiously on the steeply pitched roof for almost two weeks, hand cutting and staggering the wood shingles, laying them in such a precise manner, as if putting pieces of a intricate puzzle together.  The resulting pattern suggests thatching, and replicates the original roof. 

The current owners who have owned the property since 1985 have kept it in pristine condition meticulously preserving all the original Comstock features except…  

the adobe patio that was built by Hugh Comstock in 1940, using his newly fabricated Post-Adobe method.  It was one of his earlier experiments with the material and the patio did not stand up to the test of time.  


Abbey Baker Design Build renovated the patio with Carmel Stone, paying special attention to keeping the exact footprint of the original Post-Adobe patio, fireplace, and wall;

 at the same time leaving a small portion of the wall, for historical purposes, in its original form on the northwest side of the property. 

When Hugh Comstock built his home in 1925, it consisted of an entryway, living area, upper loft, and attic, a cozy 400 square feet of living space, with an exterior wall of cement stucco, patterned after his first storybook house, Hansel.


Inside this tiny cottage, Hugh built an open hand-hewn redwood beam ceiling low over the first floor living area.

In fact only two rows of the three-tier mullioned windows visible from the outside are visible from the first floor living area. 

 The upper row is covered by 

the attic wall and ceiling. 

The living area is anchored by a Comstock Carmel Stone fireplace and lit by the wood framed French doors that lead to the Comstock Studio, which became Mr. Comstock’s office following the success of his “Storybook Fairy Tale” style architecture which can clearly be seen imitated throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

In 1936 Mr. Comstock experimented with a system of adding emulsified asphalt to soil to make a moisture proof adobe brick that looked identical to the Spanish adobe used to build the Carmel Mission.  By 1940 he was ready to use this new building material on an addition to his home.  The photograph below shows the Post-Adobe addition to the left of the Oak tree.  

Hugh Comstock’s Post-Adobe combined the “best features of both a sturdy timber frame and modern waterproofed adobe walls. Heavy eight-inch posts of redwood or cedar are placed at all window openings, door openings, and corners of the house…Waterproofed adobe masonry, of the same thickness as the posts, is placed in the wall spaces between the posts as a filler material (as shown in the illustration below from Post-Adobe by Hugh Comstock).”  (2)
In 1948 Hugh published a “How To” booklet with simplified directions on his Post-Adobe construction.  In this booklet he used illustrations by W. Harvey Williamson of his residence that when shown side by side with current photographs confirm the lengths the owners have gone to preserve this home and its historic nature.  

The two pictures above are of the dining room.  The top from Comstock’s “How To” booklet, the bottom the room today, with the original Post-Adobe walls constructed between hand-hewn redwood timbers sitting on top of the original polished brick floors.

In the corner of the dining room is the original 73 year old fireplace with copper hood.  For a man with no architectural training, this home, as well of the others he built in Carmel, is remarkable.  
The floors in the kitchen are a continuation of the polished brick from the dining room. Though the kitchen has been modernized, it blends beautifully in seamless compatibility with the rest of the home.  
My favorite spot, the view out of the 
window over the kitchen farm sink.

Continue up the staircase in the entryway to the second floor and pass an original light fixture which had at one time adorned the outside of the home. 
From the top of the stairs, we enter a four sided balcony (part of the original 1925 house) with view to the entryway and living area below.
The detail in Comstock’s hand-hewn pierced flatwork railing is quite extraordinary. 

Here on second floor is the original attic, sleeping quarters, and tiny bathroom from 1925. 

The closed door to the left, above, is the bathroom door.  If you think you have seen this unusual door shape before, you have – It is the same style door Mr. Comstock used when he built the Tuck Box. On the right is the knotty pine arched door to the
attic area with three signature Comstock features:  a steeply pitched roof line, narrow arched three-light casement window, and  

diamond pattern leaded glass casement “eyebrow” window. A glance out this window shows a view of the Carmel Stone arch built around the front door of Comstock’s Studio

The 1940’s second floor addition houses what was originally Mayotta’s knotty pine paneled sewing room, now a guestroom.  

Through the wooden french doors is a small enclosed deck with  low railing of pierced flatwork similar in style to the inside staircase and balcony.  From this narrow balcony the Carmel stone patio by Abbey Baker Design Build is especially enjoyable today with fragrant smells wafting from the fireplace.  

A master bedroom 

and balcony with Comstock’s now signature pierced flatwork railing was also added in 1940. From this balcony the intricate and time consuming details of the new roof by  Alcal Specialty Contracting, Inc. can be seen close up.

Instead of using Post-Adobe for the walls upstairs, Mr. Comstock used a vertical board-and-batten siding.  This can be more readily seen from the outside west elevation.

In 2012, a Carmel Stone garage and bonus room was added by Abbey Baker Design Build. It was purposely built in a differentiated style from the residence.  The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea is very protective of its history, so much so that when a another building is added, not renovated, but added, to a lot with an existing historical dwelling, the new structure must be built so that when one looks at the lot from the street they will immediately know that the new building is not part of the original structure.  And just to make things more challenging for the modern architect, the new structure must not only be differentiated it must also be complimentary.  

Which is exactly what has been done with Hugh W. Comstock Residence.

Just around the corner in the Comstock Historical Hill District is our next destination.

A Storybook Cottage 

Santa Fe between 5th and 6th 

One block northeast of the Hugh W. Comstock Residence, Hugh’s father-in-law, Thomas M. Browne purchased a lot.  In 1926, Mr. Browne acquired a permit to build a small structure on the eastern side of the property.  

Fifteen years later, after the death of Mr. Browne, his widow, Mayotta’s mother, sold the property to the Comstock’s for $10.

Hugh Comstock built a 384 square foot cottage at the western edge of the lot in 1941, using many of his signature architectural features; the high pitched roof, door hood, side facing front door, Carmel Stone chimney, hand carved wood window casings and rough textured cement stucco exterior wall cladding.  

In 1987 owner Joan Bard added a two story 693 square foot addition to the back of the existing cottage, increasing the size of the kitchen and adding two bedrooms. 

Joan Bard used materials, such as stucco siding, which was similar to that found on the original 1941 building, but in a report by Kent Seavey dated May 15, 2012 to City Planner Sean Conroy, it was determined that the use of vinyl windows with snap-in diamond pattern mutins and the pierced decorative wood railings used in the 1987 addition detracted from the historical integrity of the property.  Consequently on May 22, 2012 the property was determined to be ineligible for listing on the City’s Inventory of Historic Resources.

Before the present owners took possession of the property a shed and 167 square foot studio were added to the easternmost portion of the lot.  

On the House and Garden Tour we enjoyed a beautifully renovated Storybook Cottage.  The new owners, Harry and Jane Herbst, are admirers of Comstock’s work, and in their restoration incorporated some of his signature details from Marchen Haus in the main house and Hansel in the studio. 

The vinyl windows were replaced 

with wood crank windows and  

the old studio received 80 additional square feet making it a comfortable guest house with bedroom, half bath, and cozy sitting area. 

A detached one car garage was added adjacent to the original cottage.  It has similar characteristics as the residence, hand-carved wood window casings and roof edge, high pitched roof line, and exposed rafters, yet it will be differentiated by being built with board and batten exterior siding instead of stucco cladding as in the original 1941 cottage.   

The result, great care was taken in the restoration of this home by Bell and McBride Builders  and the current owners to continue to embrace the Comstock style and character.  It is stunning!  A year ago I named this home “Browne House” and included it in my map of the Comstock Historical Hill District that can be printed off and used as a self-guided tour. Welcome A Storybook Cottage to the Comstock Historical Hill District of Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

Next up: Forest Cottage built by Frederick Bigland, Holly Oak Cottage Garden, home built by Michael J. Murphy and All the Way the mysterious hidden American Foursquare I have walked by for 40 years, now I know what beauty lies behind that fence.   

House and Garden Tour Part 2 – Forest Cottage, All the Way, Holly Oak Cottage
House and Garden Tour Part 3  – Hob Nob, Carmel Cottage Inn



Black and white photo Michael J. Murphy’s mother Emma (left), Murphy, and his wife Edna standing in front of the first home Mr. Murphy built in 1902. Kent Seavey, Images of America Carmel A History In Architecture (Arcadio Publishing, 2007), 36. Photograph from Harrison Memorial Library Collection.

Two color pictures from 1990 the relocation of the First Murphy House to present location, courtesy of Harrison Memorial Local History Library donated by Harrison Comstock.

Black and white photo Hugh and Mayotta Comstock in front of the east entrance to Hugh Comstock Residence, courtesy of the Harrison Memorial Local History Library.  

(1) Photo courtesy of Abbey Baker Design Build

Black and white photo Hugh Comstock Residence shortly after construction in 1925. Seavey, p. 81. Photograph from Pat Hathaway Historic California Views. 

Black and white photo of Comstock personal residence circa 1940. Seavey, p. 117.Photography by Morley Baer, courtesy of Monterey Peninsula College.  

(2) Hugh Comstock, Post-Adobe – How to booklet published 1948. 

Color picture of  vinyl windows of 1987 addition to A Storybook Cottage copied from Carmel-By-The-Sea City Hall Building Department files.  

All other color photographs by L. A. Momboisse

Bowhay House, Carmel Heritage Society, Historical Home,, Michael J. Murphy, Rendtorff House, The First Murphy House

Carmel House and Garden Tour 2012 (Michael J. Murphy)

Carmel House and Garden Tour 2012
Michael J. Murphy
Prolific Designer and Builder
One of twelve children, Michael J. Murphy was born in 1884 to Michael and Emma.  He grew up on the family cattle and horse ranch in Utah until his father’s untimely death in a horse accident in 1893. The ranch became too much for Emma and her five unmarried children, so they moved to Los Angeles.  Here Michael learned the trade of carpentry.  Emma had read about a small settlement starting up near Monterey, called Carmel-by-the-Sea.  In 1900 she took Michael and her ten year old daughter Myrtle to Monterey by train and then over the hill to Carmel by stagecoach. 

Having been trained as a carpenter, Michael immediately went to work for Franklin Devendorf who had purchased much of the land in Carmel and was subdividing and selling parcels.  Devendorf needed homes to be built for these lots, he chose Murphy to build many of them. 
Murphy using his own designs and doing most of the building himself, constructed quality homes.  As his reputation grew, more and more people wanted Murphy homes.  In 1914 he opened his own contracting business and lumber and building supply store.   

Over 300 buildings are attributed to Michael J. Murphy, most notably The Highlands Inn, the Carmel Art Association, The Holiday House, the Harrison Memorial Library, The Pine Inn,
 The Sea View Inn,
The First Murphy House,
and Bowhay House (the last two homes we will see on the House and Garden Tour).  He also worked with Robinson Jeffers on the Tor House.  It is estimated that about 80% of the homes in Carmel were designed or constructed by Mr. Murphy by the 1930’s.

Mr. Murphy retired in 1941 turning his business over to his son Frank.  M. J. Murphy, Inc is now operated by his two grandsons out of Carmel Valley.
The First Murphy House
Block 54/Lincoln & 6th

The Murphy House was the first home constructed by Michael J. Murphy. He built this when he was 17 years old, in 1902, for his mother and sister.

Mr. Murphy was not a proponent of any particular style, but his earlier homes were a mixture of Late Victorian (Queen Anne bay windows) and Craftsman Bungalow (horizontal, prairie layout) style.
His first home was an 820 square foot cottage.  Over the years it was remodeled, moved, and ended up in the middle of the commercial district on Mission between Fifth and Sixth used as a storage unit.

In 1990 the cottage was purchased by 

developers who had planned on tearing it down.

 The citizens of Carmel formed 
the First Murphy Foundation 
in order to save the cottage from demolition. 

The foundation raised $16,000, had the house moved to its current location on Lincoln and Sixth and declared the building historical.

The Bowhay House
Block FF/ Lot 20, 22
Camino Real Between 4th and Ocean Avenue
Originally owned by Prof. Karl Rendtorff a professor of Germanic language at Stanford University, and his wife Emma. This property was purchased in 1913 for $130.
Michael J. Murphy, having established himself as a master-builder, was retained by Prof. Rendtorff to build his summer home. 
In the early years of the 19th century, the first two blocks of Camino Real off Ocean Avenue were once known as “Professors Row.”  There were no trees below Camino Real in the early days of Carmel, so these houses had uninterrupted views of Carmel Bay and beyond.  Most of the professors along the row were from Stanford University.  The Rendtorff/Bowhay residence is one of the few remaining “Professors Row” homes.  Currently this 3 bedroom, 2 full and 1 1/2 bathroom, 2371 square foot home is for sale for $2,375,000.
Mr. Murphy originally built this home around 1915 for the Rendtorrf’s.  It is considered a Craftsman style home, but it has been updated over the years.  The garage shown above was an addition. 
This is a one-and-one-half story wood framed Craftsman with wood single and horizontal shiplap wood siding as the exterior wall cladding. 
Enter via mud room,
 to the dining,
and master.
Gertrude, daughter of Prof. Karl and Mrs. Rendtorff lived in the family home after the passing of her parents. 
She became Dean of Girls at the Monterey High School and was voted, Woman of the Year by the peninsula Quota Club in 1965.  She loved to entertain in the gardens (current jungle) of the Rendtorff home,  
off the back patio.
Next up, Frank Lloyd Wright House

on Carmel Point, a Little House in the forest,
and a Cornerstone cottage.

Black and White photographs courtesy of the Harrison Memorial Library Collection

Two color photographs of the moving of Murpy House courtesy of Henry Meade Williams Local History Department, Harrison Memorial Library.  

All other photography by L. A. Momboisse