By JAMES NEWLAND
The La Mesa Historical Society Historic Home Tour enters its 14th year — having earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most popular and satisfying home tours in the county. This year, we return to the amazing rural suburban landscape of Grossmont/Mt. Helix featuring an amazing mixture of rustic, classic and modern designs emblematic of this exclusive community. The society’s last tour here in 2016 sold out. This year promises to be another outstanding event highlighting these wonderful neighborhoods and their distinctive homes.
Eclectic architectural heritage revealed
The Grossmont/Mt. Helix communities present a unique opportunity for realizing San Diego’s distinctive suburban residential dreams. From Grossmont’s early 20th-century hopes for creating a rustic bohemian artist colony of Arts and Crafts-influenced organic residences though the popular classic “revival” styles homes of the inter-war years of “gentlemen’s ranches” surrounded by avocado orchards or the post-war midcentury modern visions of “nuclear family” nirvana — this year’s tour provides a glimpse into this local architectural heritage.
For all of these 20th-century Grossmont/Mt Helix homemakers and builders, the rocky, hillside view lots provided a natural canvas for California’s legendary indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Tapping into that intersection of organic architecture and Arts and Crafts aesthetic made logical sense in fulfilling the rural suburban dreams of these varied periods of community development.
Individual lots and creative, innovative and forward-thinking residents and designers found the semi-rural landscape perfect for these eclectic versions of suburban bliss. Visionary designers and builders of San Diego found design palettes, and willing clients, here in Grossmont/Mt. Helix.
Stepping back into the rural suburban landscape
The society has arranged for tour guests to experience seven pristine and high-quality examples of Grossmont/Mt. Helix’s residential homes and landscapes. The tour features a range of homes from a 1928 vernacular stone masonry home; a pristine 1933 Spanish Colonial Revival landmark; a compatibly updated and expanded 1934 California Spanish ranch house; a modern organic gem designed and built by local artist John Dirks in 1948; two outstanding examples of east county midcentury designer/builder John Mortenson’s custom masterpieces; and a 1968 modern gem designed by local architect Barton J. Kauffman.
These homes, although well-preserved examples of these distinctive periods and styles, are illustrative of how such well-designed and constructed houses continue to serve as family homes — and not just architectural artifacts. Although tastefully and compatibly period furnished and landscaped, they continue to provide the current owners, several with young children, the same functions and assets that the original owners experienced for these many generations.
The La Mesa Historical Society is proud to associate with Modern San Diego and San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine and our platinum sponsors Tracey Stotz Broker and Alpine Windowerks to showcase another seven amazing homes nestled into the hillsides and view lots of the Grossmont/Mt. Helix community.
‘Stone Age to Space Age’
La Mesa Historical Society Home Tour
Saturday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Check-in and shuttle center: 10105 Vivera Drive, La Mesa 91941 (Parking lots adjacent to San Miguel Fire Station 21)
Tickets available only through the La Mesa Historical Society.
Order tickets or memberships online at: lamesahistory.com or mail check for ticket payment by Oct. 30, 2019 to: La Mesa Historical Society, P.O. Box 882, La Mesa, CA 91944. All tickets are picked up on tour day. No tickets will be mailed.
Note: Continuously running shuttles are included with admission and will provide access to the seven homes. Due to narrow streets and minimal parking at the homes, no personal vehicles can be allowed on the tour. The home tour is not ADA accessible and guests will be required to walk up and down lengthy driveways to access several homes.
— James Newland is president of the La Mesa Historical Society.