Listing of the Day
Location: St. Helena, California
Price: $2.65 million
This one-bedroom nest, perched in the Napa Valley hills, was designed by renowned architect Mark Mills and built in 1957 with a layout that’s charming but functional. The open-beam ceiling is shaped like a seashell, with the living area and bedroom curled around a smaller cylindrical space that contains the kitchen.
According to Janey Bennett, author of a 2016 book on Mills’s architecture called “The Fantastic Seashell of the Mind,” the home’s original owners wanted a house that was “small on the outside but large on the inside.”
Mills, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, chose to model the home on the structure of a seashell, as it contains more space inside its perimeter than any other shape of an equal dimension. “The creativity that went into the design of the home is incredible,” said the home’s agent, Scott Perry. “It’s truly unique architecturally.”
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The property includes over seven acres of private land with trails through redwoods, oak and pine trees. Susan Curtin, the home’s current owner, said that Rockland Drive “has been a great ‘view house’ for us and our family. It is nestled in the middle of the Napa Valley but feels like we are one with nature.”
This 875-square-foot home, which sits on roughly 7.13 acres, has one bedroom and one-and-a-half baths. A half bath not attached to the main building was added by the current owners. This additional structure also functions as a utility room, including storage and a washer dryer. A cobblestone motor court can accommodate up to six cars.
Mills is famous for his organic designs, and this home is his only contribution to the beautiful Napa Valley. Mills never promoted his work, allowing clients to come to him instead.
According to Ms. Bennett, Mills proclaimed, “My client is nature.” He was dedicated to the use of local materials, and following his teacher Wright who deemed the seashell nature’s perfect architecture, Mills drew inspiration from natural forms.
This unique home lies only five minutes from St. Helena and 10 minutes from Calistoga, both historic and bustling Napa Valley towns. Calistoga is known for its luxury spas and retreat centers, while St. Helena is home to many grand vineyard estates and world class restaurants. The Culinary Institute of America, located in the former Christian Brothers Winery in St. Helena, trains the next generation of culinary stars.
The annual Napa Valley Film Festival fills downtown St. Helena with cultural activity, chefs, and tasting stations from dozens of local wineries. The 12-acre Crane Park, which lies on the outskirts of town, is home to St. Helena’s Farmers’ Market, along with picnic sites, bocce courts, lighted tennis courts.
There’s a strong local community feel to these two towns, according to the property’s agents, with many of the community’s historic buildings having been preserved and turned into specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Agent: Scott Perry and Jim Perry, Pacific Union International
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