National Register of Historic Places in Monterey County

National Register #94001007: Mary C. W. Black Studio House As is fitting and proper for a Spanish house, little is revealed to the street.
22 November 2012
National Register #94001007: Mary C. W. Black Studio House Photograph (c1994) from the NRHP Nomination
(Click Photos to Zoom)
National Register #94001007
Mary C. W. Black Studio House
556 Abrego Street
Built 1930

The Mary Black Studio House is one of the best remaining examples of the Monterey substyle of the Spanish Colonial Revival mode in residential design on the Monterey peninsula. The building exhibits a high level of craftsmanship in its exterior finishes and decoration, the product of local artisans. In its enclosed garden courtyard setting it retains to a remarkable degree us integrity as constructed, and evokes a strong sense of time and place.

By 1930, the date of construction of the Mary Black Studio House, the Spanish Colonial Revival style was probably the most popular architectural style in California. Since its introduction by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego whole towns, like Santa Barbara in southern California, had adopted the form as an integral part of their community design.

Mary Black was a resident of Santa Barbara from 1911 to 1924 and witnessed the style permeate the built environment from working-class housing to the seat of city government. She was familiar with the work of George Washington Smith and other regional architects who perfected the style through the creative use of arches, courtyards, form as mass, plain wall surfaces and clay tile roofs. On central California's Monterey peninsula, which had the greatest

On central California's Monterey peninsula, which had the greatest concentration of original Spanish/Mexican period architecture in the state, the Spanish Colonial Revival got its greatest impetus from the 1924 redesign of the old Del Monte Hotel and the development of Pebble Beach. In 1919, S.F.B. Morse and his partners purchased the two properties from the Pacific Improvement Company and began developing a recreationally oriented elite colony in the forest around a series of world class golf courses. One of the specific deed requirements for membership in Morse's 1924 Monterey Peninsula Country Club was construction ol residential homes in a style of architecture, similar to that found in early California, Spain, Italy, Southern France or Mexico.

Mrs. Black used her artist's skill at composition in both the actual building design and its careful placement between two major historic architectural features, Casa Abrego to the southeast and the Stevenson House to the northwest. Her garden pass through makes a logical connection with the gardens of the Stevenson House. She sited her buildings perpendicular to the long axis of both early adobes in order not to compete with them visually.

Excerpted from the NRHP nomination.

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