Tour Europe in a Single California House

By Dan Gregory

Some of the souvenir landmarks on display at the home of Lucia Howard and David Weingarten.

All houses tell stories, but at Rancho Diablo, the Contra Costa County, California, home of Ace Architects founders Lucia Howard and David Weingarten, the story is a lively page turner about architecture itself.

First there’s the original structure, an unusual-two story brick and timber ranch house by San Francisco Bay Area architect and scientist Lillian Bridgman dating from the 1920s.

Then there’s the collection of more than 3,000 vintage souvenir structures amassed by Howard and Weingarten and partner Margaret Majua — including miniature cathedrals, Eiffel Towers, Egyptian obelisks, war monuments and Roman columns. Not to mention the collection of 18th- and 19th-century architectural prints and romantic landscape paintings, which vividly complement the Lilliputian landmarks. 

Most of the objects illustrate the idea of the European Grand Tour; that is, they were created as mementos. But now with so many in one place — I’d call them “monumementos” — the pair can see the world without leaving home.

Appropriately, the objects themselves have traveled; the collection has been shown in museums across the U.S. and will appear next at the San Francisco International Airport in early 2014.

And finally, there’s the addition designed to store and display so many diverse objects while making the house more livable. Shown here is the new double-height living room and painting gallery. Note the stair-wrapped fireplace and ovoid balcony cutout inspired by the work of early San Francisco Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck, who designed San Francisco’s iconic Palace of Fine Arts for the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915.

Cowboy, a Welsh Corgi, seems very much at home on his divan, if not a little underwhelmed by all the visual references... To read more click here.

Originally Published in Houzz

Fri Nov 22 00:00:00 PST 2013