The Peter Price / Irving Gill Spec House #1
Irving Gill designed a rental house in the year 1908 for Peter M. Price. It is located in Golden Hill, one house down from the corner of what was then called Bean Street and Harvard Avenue when the area was subdivided as the South Park addition in 1906. Today, these streets are called Granada and Ash, a location close to the Golden Hill section of Balboa Park

Charles A. Gaines & Thomas B. Forehan were the builders who contracted with Mr. Price on 7/31/1909 to construct the house. They completed it on 11/30/1909.

Description of the house
Gill's design came during a transition in his architectural career. Earlier, he had built Arts and Crafts homes with William Hebbard. Since his association with Frank Mead in 1907 though, Gill's homes began to show a simplified Mission style. At 1345 Granada, one can see the simplicity and essence of the California heritage on a basic cubist form typical of Gill's later work. Evident in this transitional design are the mission-shaped roof parapets above a flat roof, coping along the top of the white stucco walls, and a visor roof cantilevered out from the entry. The south-facing window bay with the broad eaves in the Prairie style is an element Gill began using a couple of years earlier influenced by his experiences in Chicago alongside Frank Lloyd Wright in the firm of Adler and Sullivan.

The house has notable progressive, innovative Gill elements. The house was built of redwood with thin wall construction. The baseboards are flush with the plaster so as not to collect dust; just as the kitchen cabinet doors are flush with their frames in order to avoid grime getting into corners. The closets are raised several inches off the floor also for ease of cleaning. All of these were labor-saving devices for both construction workers and homeowners. The original customed-designed solid brass door handles and levers are intact on almost all doors. There are two original skylights, one in the hall and the other above the bathroom bringing natural light into the house interior. Gill's use of large window assemblies, consisting of combinations of casement and fixed pane windows topped with true, divided lights, allows for abundant air and light flow. In the kitchen, magnesite back splashes have been found hidden under the kitchen counter.

The construction of the house is unusual. The house rests on a 9” wide poured concrete foundation made with river pebbles and sand. The sill plate is 2”x6” upon which rests a cripple wall of 2”x3’s spaced on 9” centers and with additional 2”x4”s every 4’.

All wood appears to be redwood. Upon the foundation and posts are 4”x8” beams. The joists supporting the 6” floorboards throughout the house are 2”x8”s on 16” centers. There are pairs of cross braces between all joists.

Read more about the architectural significance, the historical background or the physical details of the house, from the text I submitted to the Historical Resources Board.

Teri Delcamp, the Senior Planner/Historian and Kelley Saunders, a staff member of the Historical Resources Board submitted an analysis of the designation of the house as a historical site. On September 25th 2003, the City of San Diego designated the Peter M. Price House #2 as Historic Resource #612 under the name Peter Price / Irving Gill Spec House #1.

References to the house
Here are two descriptions of the house (cited as the Peter M. Price house #2)from important reference works about Irving Gill's architecture:
South of his own house, Price commissioned Gill to design two smaller rental cottages. The first of these features an abstract front parapet of a vaguely Missionesque character…
Hines, Thomas S.. Irving Gill and the Architecture of Reform. New York: Monacelli, 2000. p111
For Peter M. Price, Gill created a low residence (1908-09) based on the U-shaped plan of the early California haciendas. South of the main house, Gill designed two smaller cottages for the same client.
Kamerling, Bruce. Irving J. Gill, Architect. San Diego: San Diego Historical Society, 1993. p64

Projects and Photos of the house
My house in 2002 as it looked while on the market. We are refurbishing it inside and out to restore the home back to what it looked like in 1910. The latest photo from summer 2003 shows the awnings removed with the reconstructed windows installed.

Here is a side-by-side set of pictures if you would like to see the house then and now

In late fall 2003, I began a basic landscape project in the front yard. Guided by historical references, the Garden was installed with heirloom plants which reflect the California Mission heritage and the plant preferences of Irving Gill.

The living room has redwood wainscotting, a boxed beam ceiling and a fireplace, all of which were painted over. I stripped twelve coats of paint off the fireplace and am now removing it from the ceiling. Here are a couple of pictures showing the progress: the living room in 2002 when the house was purchased and in July 2005.

The dining room has a built-in hutch which included a gas heater space. We will strip this too, in order to get it back to the original redwood finish.

Here are photos of all three Price houses together on one page.
Documents of the house
Below are some interesting documents about my house which help to establish the historic status of the dwelling.
  • When one reads Irving Gill's writings and looks at particular period photos the comparisons are remarkable. There are notable similarities with other important Gill buildings.
  • South Park was a subdivision with lots sold by the Bartlett Estate Co.. This photo taken in November 1906 shows the sales office and to the far right the lot where my house was built two years later. Another photo shows a closer view of the lots Mr. Price bought to build his houses. Look how small the palm trees are!
  • Here is the Bartlett Price List from 1908. Peter Price bought Lot 3 in block 29 for the house.
  • On August 2, 1908 the San Diego Union had an article about the Price houses.
  • Online Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Sheet 223 Volume 2 in 1920
  • Southwest Contractor announcement on August 7, 1909 from Irving Gill awarding construction to Gaines and Forehan
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
  • Here is the original sewer hook-up order.
  • And the order of the Water meter
  • The Notice of Completion in December of 1909.
  • Two days after the house was completed, the Prices turned around and sold it to Smith and Laraway with this grant deed.
  • Harry Vaughn, who was a draftsman in Irving Gill’s office took pictures of houses he worked on. Here is a picture from his album in the archives of the The San Diego Historical Society Photograph Collection
  • The house was built of redwood lath and it appears from one old photo that they had some left over, so they built a little fence on the property line for the morning glories. The main Price family residence is seen in the background. This is another photo from the San Diego Historical Society archives.

Owners of the house
Peter M. Price

Peter M. Price was born in La Salle County, Illinois on November 18, 1858. Married to Harriett Smith in 1879, Mr. Price and his family lived next door at 1355 & 1371 Granada Avenue from 1908 until 1920. Mrs. Price died in that main residence on February 23, 1917.

Mr. Price was engaged in selling agricultural implements for most of his adult life, and lived in several Midwestern states prior to his 1908 move to San Diego. After relocating to San Diego, he was the president of the Harris Seed Company which was located at 824 F Street. In the San Diego Union on April 18, 1909, there was an advertisement for a sale of their palm trees.

Mr. Price had connections with the International Harverster Company and was involved with the Panama-California Exposition. His daughter, Mae B. Price was listed as an employee of the International Harvester exhibit in 1914. His son, Harold W. was a salesman for the company. Mr. Price himself managed the Model Farm at the exposition.

Price was a partner in the real estate, loan and insurance company: Price, Woodworth & Legge. Mr. Price must have had a hand in developing lots for resale. According to the County's Deed Books, he was very active in buying and selling lots starting soon after his arrival in San Diego in 1908. Mr. Price owned property in East County. Objecting to the proposed city boundaries of El Cajon, Mr. Price and Mr. Legge were among the 35 opponents to the incorporation of that city in 1912. (El Cajon was incorporated with 123 "yes" votes.)

Mr. Price additionally was engaged in the early automobile business as owner of the Broadway Garage at 1304 Broadway.

Ervin W Laraway and Nathaniel T. Smith sold their ranch just west of Roy, Montana in late 1907 to Frank Stephens and moved to El Cajon Valley in California. They purchased a fruit ranch there, and as reported in a September 1908 paper, were busy developing an orange orchard and vineyard along with many other varieties of fruit suited for the tropical locale. The article stated that several auto parties of friends from Montana had visited the two bachelors during the summer. On 12/2/1909 Smith and Laraway exchanged a piece of property in El Cajon for the Granada street home. The two partners continued to live in east county and worked as poultrymen and ranchers. Mr. Smith was born in New Jersey in 1864 and passed away here in San Diego the day after Christmas in 1925. Mr. Laraway was originally from Canada and died here in San Diego on August 14, 1936.

Howard W Rowland was a real estate and insurance broker. He and his wife Eugenia rented 1345 Granada right after the house was built. They lived there through 1913. Mr. Rowland was a partner in the firm of Boyer & Rowland with an office at 1053 Fourth Ave.
Laura and Robert P Glass rented a room in the house from the Rowlands in 1912 and 1913.
Lewis E Hoff  and his wife,  Emma A. Hoff then rented for a year from Smith and Laraway. Mr. Hoff was also a rancher.
Milton F Heller  and his wife, Edith H were the next tenants at 1345 Granada. Milton Heller was the son of Leonora and Mathias F. Heller. His father was the owner of the Heller's grocery store chain. Milton became the vice president of the firm  Heller's Branch No 5 was close by at the corner of 28th and B. which was close to the Heller family home just  a few blocks away at  2406 B Street. Milton and Edith stayed on Granada through 1915.
Josephine N. and Mark D Keeney rented the house next for a year in 1916. Mr. Keeney was a bookkeeper for the South Trust and Savings Bank. They had moved from 522 Kalmia.
Glen W  Mosher and his wife Agnes R. lived at 1345 Granada from 1917 until Smith and Laraway sold the house in 1919.  Glen Mosher was involved in the new auto industry. He was a  salesman for San Diego's branch of the  Pacific Kissel Kar. He later became the manager for the Moreland Motor Truck Company. The Moshers moved next door to 1331 Granada. They must have been acquainted with Peter Price's family since Mae B. Price (Peter's daughter)  lived with the Moshers at 1331 Granada in 1920. The Mosher family then moved over to 1911 Edgemont and he became a salesman for Ford Motors.

Mrs. Jennie Meadows  rented 1345 Granada in 1921 even though the title had changed to the Pearson family. Gladys E., Mildred R. and Stuart M. Meadows were the other members of the family in the house. Lawson M, Meadows  was a truck driver for San Diego Feed Mills.

William H. & Norma O. Pearson purchased the property from Smith and Laraway on 8/18/1919. Mr. Pearson, born in Canada, came to the United States in 1885 and was naturalized five years later. He was a retired stockman. Pearson and his wife with their daughters Wilhelmina N. and Eleanor moved into their new home in South Park in 1922. They had been living at 3712 Georgia Street in 1920 and then for a while in 1921 at 4032 Gillette in the Moreno district. They may have known Smith & Laraway since the two bachelors also lived in Moreno at 3131 Frankfort Avenue. The Pearsons'  daughter, Mina was a student at the Kelsey-Jenney Commercial College in 1922 and then was a bookkeeper for the U.S. Grand Auto Equipment company, later to become an assistant to M.C. Harding, 1929 as a secretary. Their daughter, Eleanor was a stenographer, resided at this address in 1925. On January 4th, 1927, Mr. Pearson passed away. The next day, this obituary appeared in the San Diego Union. His daughter, Mina left the house in 1929 and married Everett J. Dickson. He was an agent for New Your Life Insurance. They moved to 1301 28th Street.

Mrs. Norma Olive Pearson remained at the house and remarried in 1931. Her new husband, Charles L. Johnson was an installer for the SCT Co. They lived there through 1939. Mrs. Johnson passed away on April 3, 1940. Her obituary appear two days later in the San Diego Union.

Genevieve Keough and her husband Patrick J. Keough had lived in the house next door at 1331 Granada for six years. Mrs. Keough purchased 1345 Granada and its furniture on June 6th 1939 from Norma Pearson Johnson after the Johnsons experienced marital problems. The Keoughs and their four children (John, Joseph, James and Joan) lived together at 1345 Granada for decades. Mr. Keough was born in Massachusetts on November 6th, 1890. He was devoted to his church, Our Lady of Angels. He was an usher and would bring the poinsettias from the house every year at Christmas time for mass. He passed away on the ninth of March 1972. Here is his obituary from the San Diego Union. He lived in the house 32 years.

Mrs. Keough continued to reside at 1345 Granada with her sons, James and Joseph. James was born in Boston on October 23rd 1925. He was a barber and hairstylist for many, many years. Joseph ran Keough Real Estate from 1969 until 1978 before becoming an analyst at General Dynamics. Both James and Joseph continued living in the family home.

4/9/1976 Genevieve Keough had added her daughter Joan Mary Coombs to the deed.
4/25/1991 Mrs. Keough and her daughter then added James Keough to the deed.
James P. Keough then quit claimed his interest in the house to his daughter Shaunee P. Boyd. James passed away on February 27 2002
4/14/2000 Mrs Keough quit claimed the deed to her daughter’s husband, Ronald L. Coombs. Mrs. Keough outlived her two sons, and passed away on March 13th, 2001.
Ronald and Joan Coombs and Shaunee Boyd were the owners until 2002.

Daniel W. Davey purchased the property on August 30, 2002.

About the architect: Irving Gill
The San Diego Historical Society has a biography about Gill.
Fundamental Truths, the Architecture of Irving Gill is a video about Gill produced by KPBS.  
A Significant Sentence Upon the Earth: an article about Irving J. Gill, Progressive Architect by Sarah J. Schaffer in the San Diego Historical Society's journal
Irving Gill Central is probably the best resource on the web for information about this important architect.
San Diego's Core Neighborhoods
Paul Jamason's Google Map of the locations of Gill buildings around San Diego
An Irving Gill facebook page

Questions or comments to Dan