The Midcentury Home That Maintains Its Quirkiness After All These Years

The Midcentury Home That Maintains Its Quirkiness After All These Years

By Eviana Hartman / Photos by Joe Pugliese
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.

Though he was never licensed as an architect, never made a living at it, and completed fewer than ten buildings over the course of his career, Jack Hillmer (1918–2007) remains a cult figure in the Bay Area for his eccentric take on modernism. Fascinated by redwood since his childhood, the Texas-born Hillmer was sent during World War II to work as a military draftsman in San Diego and was profoundly affected by a stay in Rudolph Schindler’s El Pueblo Ribera apartments there. He later taught at UC Berkeley and cofounded Telesis, a group of Bay Area architects and planners devoted to principles of sustainability and communal collaboration. "One of our major interests was to make the world better," Hillmer told writer Dave Weinstein for SFGate in 2004. "There was an excitement to it. It seemed like anything was possible."

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