Thursday, August 5, 2004
Don and Marjore Edgren’s house is listed in the Monterey Historical Register as the vacation home of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Clark Hoover. The Edgrens bought the property, called Mira Bella Oaks, in 1979.
“This house was built as a hunting lodge in the late 1800’s by the parents of Hoover’s wife,” says Don. “See the rifle clamps on the walls above those windows? They sold the place to their daughter and Herbert in 1912 for a $500 gold piece and it became a second home whenever the Hoovers visited her parents.”
The Hoover/Edgren home is constructed in the style of architect Julia Morgan on two acres of oak and pine forest. In 1981, the Edgrens built five houses around theirs to blend with that architectural concept, each tucked within the woods and largely out of sight from one another. The development received the City of Monterey Award for outstanding design.
“We planned it to perpetuate the green belts in the front, back and throughout the property, plus we all share this one driveway,” Don, shows me on the site plan. “We have a homeowner’s association to maintain the community land, but each house is privately owned.”
One of the houses is now for sale by an absentee owner. Perhaps on the best location of them all, the home is the farthest back and surrounded by mature oaks and a large varied topography of deep ivy.
“Deer still wander around all the time,” says Don. Dappled light through the trees creates patterns of spots like a fawn in the shade, and the open areas are baking warm.
”Our weather is good because we’re situated against the hill, separating us from the fog at DLI and along the beach,” says Don, pointing up Martin Street.
Inside the vacant house there’s a feeling of a different time and place that hasn’t suffered today’s cacophony. It’s easy to forget the house is in a city, the downtown of which is within walking distance. It welcomes you more like a cottage than a big house with three bedrooms and three baths. Most empty houses feel, well, empty, but this one maintains an encompassing tranquility. Perhaps, in part, it’s due to wood-framed casement windows throughout, the French doors in several rooms, and ceilings vaulted to the Mansard roof.
The sunken living room has a marble fireplace, multiple windows and a wet-bar. On the same level is a den/library with tall built-in book shelves and a door to the outside. Just steps above is the dining room with French doors opening onto a deck suitable for a table and chairs and room to spare. The kitchen has white ceramic tile floors and counter tops with decorative tiling, plus a six-burner American Crown gas range and double ovens.
On the second floor, a 500-square-foot master suite has a marble fireplace with wood storage beneath. The master bath is unexpectedly roomy with views as well. Another bedroom and full bath upstairs are completely separate, and only the landing at the top of the stairs is shared. The house is part of a unique enclave, perfectly set for anyone wanting privacy without isolation. Don shows me an old newspaper photo of the original land and lodge.
“Look how many more trees there are here now,” he smiles.