By GINA GARCIA
GROSSMONT COLONY – The La Mesa Historical Society's Annual Home Tour increased attendance this year, drawing more than 300 participants who toured five homes in the Grossmont Colony area.
Organizers said attendance increased over last year and many arrived earlier than ever to ride the Old Town Trolley system set up to ferry the customers.
Pictures of the event's organization point at the La Mesa Women's Club building can be found below. The video above features the home many of this year's visitors were talking about when they returned -- the Arts and Crafts renovation done by builder/artist D. Lynn Reeves.
Content below, produced in advance of today's tour, includes more background on the Reeeves home.
One of the great sources of character for La Mesa architecture rests in the fact that so many of its homes predate the later trend toward tract housing.
Throughout La Mesa – and particularly on the slopes of Mt. Helix and the Grossmont summit – the homes were vacation structures, built by individual architects and builders who had not yet become devotees of the mass production advantages of tract construction.
The result is that the many, tucked away homes that have been built, rebuilt and renovated over the last 100 years offer a surprising mix of architectural styles and a mix of character not usually associated with Sunbelt boom states.
Take the 1913 Arts and Crafts style home that has been painstakingly renovated and expanded by the builder and artist D. Lynn Reeves and his partner Claudia Powell. Hidden away on a half-acre lot not far from I-8, the dark woods of this residence and its adherence in expansion to the intent and materials of the original architect make this home an impressive homage to one of the most American of styles.
Reeves and Powell have filled the home with Mission furniture and light fixtures that also fit perfectly. A visit to their home suggests a place that is both comfortable, utilitarian and an expression of art all at the same time.
Reeves, a builder who has quietly become an accomplished artist, produced sketches of the expansion his home underwent over its life, ending with its current stunning condition. The sketches are included in the slide presentation above.
The Reeves/Powell home was one of five Grossmont area residences that made up this year’s La Mesa Historical Society’s Tour of Homes. It alone was worth the $15 price of taking this bus tour of eclectic homes in this year’s event.
Just around the corner from the Reeves/Powell residence, is a younger structure on winding Alto Drive – one of the first homes built in the months after World War II had ended when the building industry had not yet amassed the materials and business plans that would fuel the tract home boom.
Shannon Wilson and her family purchased this home and began an expansion and renovation that, in its own way, attempted to retain the character of a home clearly built in 1946 to fit its hillside location.
Shannon Wilson selected the home because she loved the feeling of being surrounded by the woods that grew up on the large, stream-fed lot to almost embrace the home.
In expanding it, the Wilsons retained the natural surroundings, adding most of the square-footage by building down the slope and under the original home, protecting the rose gardens and original trees that made this home a natural beauty when it was built and now.