Intersection: Art and Architecture: The 41st Annual Claremont House Heritage Tour

Written by John Newber

Claremont Heritage presents the 41st Annual Home Tour from 10am-4pm on Sunday, October 8. The homes for the tour were selected in conjunction with this year’s theme: Intersectionality – Art and Architecture. They illustrate the different criteria of cultural and historical significance, representing not only the different eras of design and construction, and the association with respected architects and builders, but also the association with the people who lived or are living in the houses – people who had a cultural impact on the community.

The home tour weekend begins on Friday, October 6 with the always popular sunset reception, which this year will be held at the Claraboya home of Charlotte Resch and John Nero. The classic mid-century modern home is not only a must-visit for its aesthetic design, but it also has stunning panoramic views. This house is only open to those who purchase tickets for the sunset reception and will not be on the Sunday tour.

Sunday’s tour includes the famous landscape architect’s home, the former homes of three legacy artists, and two homes of current working artists. Two of the homes were designed by respected Claremont architect Fred McDowell

Home tour features:

Benjamin’s residence
Construction date: 1955
Style: Mid-Century Modern

The post-and-beam mid-century modern home was built for noted Claremont artist Carl Benjamin and his wife, Beverly. Built on what was once an orange grove, the Benjamins commissioned the house from a young Claremont architect, Fred McDowell. A wall of glass faces the backyard, venturing outside and allowing a view into Carl Benjamin’s studio.

Benjamin, who became known as the father of “solid” painting, was influenced by modern architecture. Architectural lines and angles were his inspiration, and his paintings express the relationship between art and design.

Tour-goers will experience first-class art and one of Claremont’s finest mid-century modern homes.

The Benjamin House will contain works by renowned Claremont artist Carl Benjamin. Photo/Courtesy of the Carl Benjamin Estate

Fuel housing
Construction date: 1930
Style: Spanish Revival

The one-story stucco house has many features of the Spanish architectural style popular from the mid-1910s to the mid-1930s. The house was built as part of a small development project by a local construction company that used different exterior designs but the same interior floor plan as the homes. The tiny three-bedroom house was the residence of artists Liz and James Fuller. James was a professor of art at Scripps College. Because Scripps was built around the same time and universally admired for its Spanish style, the Fullers referred to their modest home as “mock Spanish.”

James worked in oils, watercolors and acrylics and was a skilled printmaker and sculptor. He eventually settled on watercolor as his medium of choice. Prior to teaching at Scripps, he taught at UC Berkeley, Cal State University Los Angeles, and UC Davis, as well as numerous workshops and classes including those at the Laguna Beach School of the Arts. Tour attendees will be treated to many of his works in this house.

This Spanish Revival home was the home of Scripps art professor and artist James Fuller. Photo/courtesy Mindy Meader

Garcia residence
Construction date: 1968
Style: Farmhouse

In the mid-century and beyond, buyers desired homes built by Lewis Homes because of their quality and design. The Lewis ranch house defined the Southern California lifestyle. Kathy and Frank Garcia’s 1968 ranch house is one of those homes. This one-story, five-bedroom, three-bathroom home resembles a lot of other homes built at the same time, but that’s where the comparison ends. Frank, a retired teacher, has amassed an impressive collection of Chicano art.

Kathy is a mosaic artist whose work is widely recognized and admired. The house and grounds are decorated with her sculptures and are a must see on this tour.

This Spanish Revival house was the home of Scripps art professor and artist James Fuller. Photo/courtesy Mindy Meader

Garcia residence
Construction date: 1948
Style: traditional minimalist

Built in 1948 during California’s post-war boom, this modest home is today home to Mexican folk artists Sandy and Bebop Garcia. Sandy’s medium is primarily paint while Bebop works mostly with metal and wood. The house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, original hardwood floors, a fireplace and windows. Again, like the other “Garcia” house on the tour, any comparison with the tract house quickly ends.

The house has been transformed into a vibrant masterpiece with a symphony of colors playing on its walls. Portraits and murals adorn almost every exposed surface. Don’t miss this house. It is a treat for the senses.

Sandy and Bebop Garcia’s house in South Claremont is as colorful as a painting by Mexican folk artist Sandy Garcia. Photo/Courtesy of Sandy Garcia

the McIntosh Residence
Construction date: 1958
Style: Mid-Century Modern

Another design by Fred McDowell, the McIntosh House is a classic mid-century home that can’t be missed. Home to legendary ceramicist Harrison McIntosh and his Fine Arts-trained wife, Margaret, this property was built in 1958 when many professional artists lived and worked in the Padua Hills area.

The home’s interior reflects exposed column and beam construction with natural wood finishes. It houses McIntosh’s studio and a 1991 addition added a second-floor master bedroom suite and a balcony.

The notable art collection in this house includes not only many ceramic works by Harrison McIntosh, but also works by Benjamin and Fuller. Be sure to visit this masterpiece.

The mid-century home of potter Harrison McIntosh and his wife Margaret was designed by noted Claremont architect Fred McDowell. Photo/Courtesy of Catherine McIntosh

Perry residence
Construction date: 1938
Style: Streamlined modern

While all of the homes on the tour celebrate art and architecture, this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home specifically celebrates landscape architecture. The home of Robert and Peggy Berry is noteworthy not only for its architectural significance but for its gardens. Robert Berry, a landscape architect, and Peggy, a horticulturist, create thoughtful, diverse yet unstructured gardens.

The gardens and studios will be open for viewing. Robert Perry, professor emeritus at Cal Poly Pomona, is also the author of three books, including the award-winning Landscape Plants for California Gardens: An Illustrated Reference of Plants for California Landscapes.

The gardens of this home are not to be missed.

Tour information is at

Peggy and Robert Perry’s streamlined, modern home features gardens designed by the owners, a horticulturist and a landscape architect. Photo/courtesy Mindy Meader

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