Frank Lloyd Wright’s Only Oceanfront Home, Where Architecture and Surf Join in ‘Natural Melody,’ Has Sold for $22 Million

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Of all the Frank Lloyd Wright homes around the world, there is only one that sits on the ocean: the Mrs. Clinton Walker House. On Carmel Point near the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, the extraordinary home just sold for its asking price of $22 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home to resemble a ship's bow cutting through water. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home to resemble a ship’s bow cutting through water. Photo: Matthew Millman. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The famed architect designed the house to resemble a ship’s bow cutting through water, a nod to his distinctive practice of integrating structures into their natural surroundings. The striking feature is made possible by the hexagonal floor plan of the triangular living room, allowing for spectacular views of waves crashing onto rocks nearby.

Frank Lloyd Wright made use of the promontory to create a hexagonal living room. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

Frank Lloyd Wright made use of the promontory to create a hexagonal living room. Photo: Matthew Millman. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The 1,400-square-foot space owes its illustrious provenance to the home’s owner, Della Walker, who wrote a short letter to Wright in 1945 asking him to take on the project. “I am a woman living alone,” she said. “I wish protection from the wind and privacy from the road and a house as enduring as the rocks but as transparent and charming as the waves and delicate as the seashore. You are the only man who can do this—will you help me?”

One of the bedrooms in Frank Lloyd Wright's home for Della Walker. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

One of the bedrooms in Frank Lloyd Wright’s home for Della Walker. Photo: Matthew Millman. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Walker—an artist and widow of Minneapolis lumber executive Clinton Walker—had seen images of Wright’s Fallingwater home and was captivated by its simple, single-story Usonian style that made the nearby stream its focal point. She felt Wright could do the same with her uniquely positioned coastal property. 

Appreciating the “brief and to the point” letter, Wright agreed to take on the project and ultimately designed the single-story, copper-roofed home overlooking Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Three bedrooms—all facing the sea—are located in the rear of the home, which Wright lowered four feet for better assimilation with the environment.

The Mrs. Clinton home in Carmel by Frank Lloyd Wright. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The Mrs. Clinton Walker House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo: Matthew Millman. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The combined living and dining area is centered around a floor-to-ceiling fireplace with built-in furniture. The window frames are painted in Wright’s signature Cherokee Red color with reverse-stepped glass windows. “The overall effect is quiet,” said Wright in 1954, “and the long white surf lines of the sea seem to join the lines of the house to make a natural melody.”

The floor-to-ceiling fireplace in Frank Lloyd Wright's home for Della Walker. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The floor-to-ceiling fireplace in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mrs. Clinton Walker House. Photo: Matthew Millman. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Wright was unwavering about his designs when embarking on the house in 1948, so that when it was completed in 1952, it was exactly as he envisioned. “I hope this tiny aristocrat among the Carmel bourgeois, so exciting in itself, is not only a domestic experience giving you the joy you, its progenitor, deserve, but a spiritual uplift,” he wrote to Walker after a visit to the home.

According to the local newspaper the , the Mrs. Clinton Walker House sold to Monaco businessman Patrice Pastor, a major land owner in the city, who bought it from the descendants of Della Walker.

 

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