The Della Walker House
A long time ago – long before I had any interest in Frank Lloyd Wright – I used to regularly walk by the unusual structure on Scenic Drive in Carmel-by-the-Sea, hardly paying much attention to it. Except for one thing: it reminded me very much of the prow of a ship, thrusting outward from the rocky shoreline, yet almost one with it. And like a sturdy and well-built ship, stone and glass structure sail gracefully through the years, as the waves of the Pacific continually and incessantly pound the shoreline.
As Durable as the Rocks
Such are the traits of any Wright structure: they blend so perfectly well with their surroundings and they stand majestically today – even some of his oldest commissions – in lasting tribute to the architect who designed and built them. In this case, the home that I never pass now without stopping to admire, does actually appear like the prow of a ship, riding permanently at anchor at the corner of Scenic Drive and Ocean View Avenue at Carmel Point.
The structure was designed in 1948 and completed circa 1951 for Mrs. Clinton Walker, sister of Mrs. Willis J. Walker, of San Francisco and Pebble Beach who, with her husband in 1918, purchased 216 acres of land on what is now the southwestern corner of Carmel. The piece of property on which the house is built was deeded to Mrs. Clinton Della Walker. A widow at the time, Walker told Architect Frank Lloyd Wright that she wanted a house “as durable as the rocks and as transparent as the waves." Apparently inspired by the request, Wright designed the “cabin on the rocks" for her.
A Summer Place
The 1200 square-foot home is a single-story structure, built on granite boulders with a triangular foundation made of Carmel Stone. Other features include a broad, low copper roof covered with baked-enamel shingles of blue-green color – obviously to match the color of sea and sky – that is supported by a massive floor-to-ceiling fireplace, a hexagon floor plan (like the Hanna House on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto), Wright’s trademark seemingly-unbroken horizontal lines of the casement windows that face the ocean and the “Cherokee-red” painted ribbons of steel that frame them. Almost all of the rooms have a view of the ocean, including the master bedroom that was added in 1956.
The main characters (Ken & Sylvia) from the 1959 movie “A Summer Place” claim that Frank Lloyd Wright designed a home for them on the beach. And although the film is actually set on the east coast, it shows views of the interior and exterior – from the patio – of the Walker house in Carmel.
The Mrs. Clinton Walker House, a privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright house in Carmel, California, is open to the public one day each June to benefit the Carmel Heritage Society.
Related Articles, Media, Resources & Links
Browse these resources for more information about this FLW Building, it's history and information about the region.
- Brooks Walker: Respectful Designs That Last, Interview with Brooks Walker, great-grandson of Della Walker (March 31, 2010)