The Heart of Kensington - Neighborhood Preservation Advocacy
Kensington Home Tour a Great Success!

Saturday, May 2nd was the date for the second annual Landmarked Homes of Kensington Tour. The tour showcased five of the finest historically designated homes in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego, including the 1933 National Historic Landmark, The Lindstrom House. Designed by architect Cliff May, known as the originator of the California ranch style house, this home is an early and well-preserved example of a Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda ranch house.  Also featured on the tour this year was the 1929 Charles "Dick" Bowman House, originally owned by a pioneer in aviation history, and the 1927 Daniel McConnell / Herbert Bathrick House.

Beautiful homes, their architects, builders and prominent owners were showcased in an "open house" format, and tour participants had the opportunity to see some of the city's oldest planned residential projects from the inside out, meet with historians, explore Kensington, and discover design ideas that inspire California living.

Did you know that thirty-five homes in Kensington have been designated by the City of San Diego Historical Resources Board as historic?  The owners of several of these landmarked historic homes generously agreed to open their homes for a rare look at some of the master built and best preserved houses in all of San Diego!

Included on the self-guided tour was the Talmadge Park "The Lindstrom House", a National Historic Landmark designed by master architect Cliff May.

Five houses in all were open for viewing.  Docents were on hand at each house to provide information and directions.

Also include in the day's events were a lecture by historian Ron May in the Kensington Community Church social hall.

Missed it?  Take a virtual tour of some of the homes below.

The Lindstrom House

Located in the Talmadge Park No. 1 subdivision, this is the second house built by noted architectural designer Cliff May.  The single story, 2300 square foot house is located on a 50 foot canyon lot in Kensington and is an outstanding example of a California Hacienda-style ranch house.  Built in 1933, the facade of the house is completely intact and unmodified.
May is considered the originator of the California Ranch style home. He gave a rebirth to an almost lost style as he adapted old ideas to model living. May had a natural feel for the hacienda way of life because as a 6th generation Californian, he had lived that life style. As a member of the Estudillo/Pedrorena family tree, he spent summers on the Las Flores rancho and lived in Old Town in the Estudillo house.
May's designs captured the essence of outdoor/indoor living so compatible with our moderate climate.
The Lindstrom house is the best preserved of the early homes and the one Cliff May showcased to advertise his architectural designing skills.
The rumor is that the wood used to construct the kitchen cabinets came from the pallets that were used to bring in the original tile for the house.  May was a relative unknown at the time, building his second house and had to be frugal.  Even the roof tiles were "seconds".
Despite the scrimping on some of the material, this house has all the hallmarks of a significant, historical treasure, including May's signature tiled doorbell.
The Talmadge Park No.1 subdivision had a colorful beginning in 1926 when the subdivision was dedicated and “opened for business” by the silent movie stars, the Talmadge sisters, as well as Buster Keaton, Louis B. Mayer and other Hollywood.  Streets in Talmadge across the Fairmount canyon are named for the sisters, Norma, Natalie and Constance.  Despite all the rumors, the Talmadge sisters never lived in Kensington or Talmadge, but were investors in the real estate named for them.

For more info on the Lindstrom House, read this great article in the Union-Tribune.

Many, many thanks to Barbara and Norm for inviting us in!

The Charles “Dick” Bowman House

Named for a pioneer in air mail aviation, the Bowman House is a 1929 Spanish Eclectic in the Monterey style located in the Kensington Heights Unit #3 subdivision. It received its historical designation in 2003.  
The Bowman house was built by builder Henry B. Hensley, with design review and guidance by Master Architect Richard Requa.  The house is a stuccoed, two-story building with a fired red-tile roof, ornate wooden balcony, and iron grillwork windows. A sculpted stucco cap tops the cathedral front window.
Pacific Air Transport pilot, Captain Charles R. “Dick” Bowman, and four other pilots flew into history on July 1, 1930, as they inaugurated overnight United States Air Mail and passenger flight service between Seattle, Washington and San Diego. Bowman flew the 36-hour flight in a B-40 Boeing bi-plane.  Captain Bowman also held the distinction of flying the first transcontinental flight from San Francisco to Boston in 1925.  He was also assistant manager to T. Claude Ryan at the Ryan Flying Company at Dutch Flats in San Diego. Bowman lived in this house in 1932.
The homeowners are avid collectors of all things Mexican.
The house is a wonderful showcase, and you will notice that three colors are used throughout - avocado green, brick red and mustard yellow.
Many thanks to Ronald V. May and Dale Ballou May, Legacy 106, Inc., for information on the Bowman house.

Muchos gracias to Mike and David for not only opening their home to us, but also acting as such gracious hosts all day long!

The David McConnell / Herbert Bathrick House

Located in the Kensington Heights Unit #2 subdivision, this 1927 Spanish Eclectic home bears the name of the noted Bathrick Brothers Building Company of Pasadena. The Bathrick Bros. ( Herbert Bathrick ) built more than 150 homes in California between 1924 and 1949, including homes in Kensington Heights, Pasadena and Altadena. 
The current owners were told that this house was once used as a brothel in the 1940s!
The incredible light fixtures are reproduced from fixtures found throughout Balboa Park.

Kudos to Temple and Troy for showing us this incredible house, and all the while shuttling between kids' soccer games!

Casa del Sol

The 1934 Casa del Sol is a single story U-shaped Spanish ranch style home in the vein of Cliff May, although rumored to have been designed by Richard Requa.  Since the house was built during the years when the Kensington Architectural Review Committee, which consisted of Richard Requa, was responsible for reviewing all building plans in the Kensington Heights subdivision, Requa may have suggested changes and provided the final approval for the design.
The house is built around a beautifully landscaped central courtyard.
There were too many rooms in this house to count!
But most people were drawn to the extraordinary views from the patios.
Our thanks to Mary Lou for her generosity in opening her unique house.

The Florence E. Gibson Spec House

The 1927 Florence E. Gibson Spec House is a one story Spanish Eclectic style home located on the head of a canyon on a steeply sloping corner lot. Classic features of the Spanish style include a low pitched roof with red tiles, stucco finish and a three arch arcade on the front of the house.
“Hanging Judge” John A. Hewicker resided in the house from 1942 until his death in 1985.  Known for being tough on criminals, Judge Hewicker presided over many high profile cases, one of which resulted in the formation of the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Step inside the Gibson house, where all doorways are arched.

Located in the Kensington Park Extension subdivision, the sloped backyard features original concrete and rock hardscape elements. All sorts of original features are intact on the interior of the house, including the Batchelder tile on the fireplaces.
More original tile could be found in the bathrooms, including wonderful hot pink & black tile in the master bathroom.
The coffered wood ceiling in the dining room, arched doorways throughout, and original sconces and light fixtures inside and out make this a very high end home.  The ornately carved mantle is rumored to have come from one of U.S. Grant's homes in the downtown area.
And who wouldn't want to hang out in the beautifully upgraded kitchen...
Thanks to Megan and Angela for opening their beautiful home!

Kensington Community Church - Event Headquarters

Great antique finds were had at event headquarters.  Our friends from Mission Hills, Janet O'Dea and Allen Hazard, came by with tables full of antiques from their shop, Hazard Decorative Arts. 
Winnie and Rich Hanford searching through the antique postcard collection.

A member of the American Art Pottery Association, they brought beautiful paintings, art pottery, furniture, lighting, textiles, paper goods, dinnerware and more.  If you missed them during this event, look for them online at

At 11 AM, noted archaeologist and historian, Ron May delivered a riveting 90 minute lecture on the various styles of architecture in the many subdivisions that make up Kensington.
Ron also brought his antiques and collectibles for sale, and more than one child-at-heart took home a bag of old marbles.

Make sure you talk to Ron before re-doing your stucco!  You can find Ron in Kensington on many days, working on historical nomination reports for many houses, or reach him through his website,

Our thanks to all the homeowners, volunteers and business owners who supported our tour this year.

Behind San Diego is a romance of love, chivalry and struggling pioneers. - Davis Baker Company advertisement, San Diego Union, 21 February 1926

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