My Father and Mother, Bill and Amy Nelson, settled in Del Monte Park in 1949 after their "honeymoon" trip on Schwinn 3 speed bicycles in Europe for a year. They stayed in Youth Hostels and camped intermittently throughout France, Italy and England during their European tour in1948. Dad had just completed his service as a Navel officer in the South Pacific and my parents being newlywed's, their bicycle trip was typical of their adventurous spirit. Upon returning to America they moved to the Monterey Peninsula.
My parents rented artists Victor and Janet Di Gessu's house on Presidio Avenue in Del Monte Park while the Di Gessu's were studying art in Europe for a year. A short walk away was the pentagonal shaped lot my parents purchased for $175.00 in 1949. The lot was mid-way up the hill on Benito Street and had a clear view of Point Joe in Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach. Dad drew plans and made a model of his building concept which related more to sculpture than conventional construction.Redwood lumber was 10 cents a board foot at Fife's Lumber Supply and Mill located on Sunset Avenue in Pacific Grove near Asilomar Beach.He designed his multi-angled structure around this economical material.To save money on other materials he cut full sized adobe bricks in half lengthwise to create the slanting adobe and glass southern wall which also enabled the sun to warm and provide daylight to the living room and bedrooms facing south. Beer cans and cement were used as fill for the fireplace base to reduce weight on the raised foundation. Stone was gathered from the Carmel River for walls and landscaping.For listening to jazz and classical music he assembled a Heath-Kit brand stereo kit from Radio Shack. All the Del Monte Park artists homes were built using money carefully. My mother, would practice classical piano pieces on the piano when she was not busy cooking international dishes or searching the forest for native plants and herbs to include in her gourmet cusine while my Father worked in his ceramic studio on the $175.00 lot he owned next door. Life was simple and fulfilling for my parents who enjoyed neighborhood parties and time spent visiting with friends and neighbors. Dad taught 6th grade at David Avenue School a short walk down the hill through the woods and vacant lots.Some times he would walk his 6th grade class up the hill to his studio and they would make kids pottery and he would fire it later in his kiln to give to them the next week.
Living room view with slanted windows facing south with redwood floors- Fireplace hood by Stienmetz Ironworks in Monterey.
My Father had no previous experience building or designing houses except for an attempt at building a catamaran to sail to Tahiti in as a teenager while growing up in San Diego in southern California. A project that was not completed.
He was influenced by mid-century architects Joseph Eichler and Frank Loyd Wright and used material creatively both visually and structurally. The roof was supported by redwood 1"x14" boards (seen right) with a 2"x2" redwood spacer between the planks. The walls had no conventional framing and were supported with1"x12"
redwood boards "ship lapped" in place of conventional framing. His approach to building proved effective as the house is in perfect structural condition to this day.The slanted adobe walls with triangular 2"x12" posts are in perfect condition as well.
South facing view view of house under construction- 1950
by Erik Nelson
Bill Nelson with son Erik - 1955
West facing view of house-1950
Living room fireplace area under construction- 1950