You Can Own a Piece of San Diego’s Modernist History for $1.3M

A textbook example of the streamline moderne style, the Walter Church Residence was groundbreaking when it was built in the 1940s. Now, it’s on the market.

Property Details: 

Location: 8463 Golden Avenue, Lemon Grove, California

Price: $1,300,000

Year Built: 1941

Architect: Reuben C. Haas

Footprint:  3,605 square feet (four bedrooms, four baths)

From the Agent: "The Church Residence showcases the romance and elegance of a bygone era, as it perfectly exemplifies streamline moderne architecture. The estate, ‘one of the most modern residences in San Diego’, is in pristine condition—showcasing decades later how Walter & Dorothy Church spared no expense both inside and out. Today, the elegant curves and abundance of glass showcase expansive sunrise and sunset views that can be enjoyed both from the interior spaces as well as patio areas and rooftop deck. The Church estate offers unrivaled space and aesthetics for entertaining, working, and recreating."

"From the active downtown to the 1928 world’s biggest lemon sculpture, Lemon Grove hosts an abundance of early- and midcentury architecture—the Church Residence being one of the most prominent local mansions," states the listing.

Surrounding the property is a low-water landscape, predominantly comprised of succulents and mature plantings. The house features a two-car garage and an RV carport.

According to the listing, "The Walter Church Residence (1938-41) by builder, Reuben C. Haas was reportedly built from plans that were ‘three years in the making’ and was referred to as ‘One of the most modern residences in San Diego’ when it was first published—just days prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor."

The interior features dark wood floors and contrasting smooth and sharp curves and edges along the walls, windows, ceiling, and floor molding. 

The slightly rounded living room is generous in size despite the curvature of the walls. Corner windows fill the space with sunlight. 

"Emerging in the 1930s, streamline moderne architecture took cues from the elegant curves and horizontal lines of airplanes, locomotives, ships, and product design of the period," states the listing. "The round porthole windows and the steel deck railings of the Church Residence bring to mind ocean liners of the early 20th century just as the absence of ornament connects this home to regional modernism of San Diegan Irving Gill and Vienna secessionists like Adolf Loos, as well as the Bahuaus in Germany."

The kitchen features white laminate cabinets marble countertops. 

A door with a porthole leads to the kitchen, which has plenty of storage space. The home also includes a bomb shelter, a walk-in safe, and an expansive standing-height crawlspace.

A beautifully framed dining area rests in an alcove between the kitchen and living areas. Glass doors lead out to the back deck and patio.

To the right of the ground-floor hallway is a main staircase that leads to the home’s private areas. 

The primary bedroom echoes the same architectural language of the living room, with corner windows that introduce bright natural light. 

The en suite bath to the primary bedroom is richly colored in maroon, peach, and white.

The bathrooms of the Church Estate are saturated in beautiful pastels of the era. This peach and green bath boasts an array of tile detailing that enhances the space in style and color.

A baby blue and peach bath speaks the same design language of its counterparts. Each bath features a large vanity, a soaking tub, a standing shower, and inset wall shelving. 

Vibrantly detailed blue tiles add character to this bathroom—as does the silver switch plate. 

The Church estate offers unrivaled space and aesthetics for entertaining and hosting. It’s positioned upon a hilltop with sweeping views of the San Diego skyline form the back patio.

"From its hilltop location, the Church Residence offers unparalleled sunrise and sunset views, as well as panoramic views from the roof deck," states the listing.

A porthole window along the side of the house references the design of cruise ships and breaks up the solid white facade. 

The home‘s elegant contours peep out from behind the foliage. Exterior finishes—including period wood and glass detailing—add to the authenticity of the architecture.

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