Mead & Requa, 1914, The Gird Estate

3640 Gird Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028

Tuesday, May 1, 2018 | 10:48 pm

Open House – Saturday, May 5, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

“A house should be an absolute expression of the soil. It should be an intrinsic part of the landscape, a harmonious note in the whole geographical song. It should never strike out from its environment, but should appear as simple and natural a product as the foliage.” Frank Mead, The Craftsman, 1914


“This new style is characterized by plain walls of modeled stucco in soft, warm tones blending with its planting; low pitched, rambling roofs, preferably covered with burned clay tiles, … expansive, deep-set casements and French windows; ornament and moldings used with great restraint and discrimination; … generous mass planting of hardy shrubs and vines around the buildings, and delightful garden areas joined to the house by walls and hedges.” Richard Requa, San Diego Union, circa 1925


Two histories are the heart and soul of the William Gird Estate. One is that of an illustrious Old San Diego pioneer family, the Girds, the other a lively conversation about architectural inspiration — North African dwellings, Moroccan kasbahs, Native American pueblos — swirling around debates about the very origins of Modernism in America. Both histories are a spirited response to the future; the result is a great work of residential architecture that breathes an authenticity textured by livability and craftsmanship.



These two histories aren’t obvious at first. Rather, the property is like a plein air watercolor come to life. Some turn-of-the-century painter, perhaps, seeking Old California: a beautiful old pueblo compound with white walls and hand-made terra cotta tile roofs … dusky golden light, Coast Live oaks, giant Canary Island date palms, bougainvillea. Located in a private community, a driveway and a center fountain lead to the meticulously maintained compound of three handsome white buildings, the house and a water tower, both built in 1914, and a 1,000-square-foot workroom/three-car garage, 1989, set into a low hillside of lawns, gardens, and trees.



Two recessed courtyards, one at the entry that once featured a pueblo-style open beam pergola, the other an unroofed terrace with an original wishing well. The picturesque water tower, the “pump house” up on the hill overlooking the house, today houses a private getaway space, but a century ago it was a workhorse for the ranch that H.H. Gird built and son William expanded. Inside, the painter could turn to the fabled Great Room and its massive medieval-like brick fireplace, one of five. Floors of polished tawny brick and Saltillo tile meet walls of solid Philippine mahogany that are maintained as though for an expensive yacht.


But the home’s architectural provenance radiates far beyond the frame of a plein air painting. Its walls of white, 12 to 16 inches thick, recall adobe, yes, but they are an early application in poured reinforced concrete used for residential construction, creating a cool and quiet interior. The unadorned arches supporting the walled entry courtyard salute the humility of white-washed buildings the co-architect Frank Mead (1865 – 1940) sketched in journeys that began in Northern Africa in 1895, photographing Bedouin villages in the Sahara Desert. He traveled throughout the greater Mediterranean, fell in love with the Alhambra and Moorish architecture in Spain, and later, went as far as Damascus.




Mead’s early employ under fashionable and Beaux Arts-trained Philadelphia architects provided the basis for his skilled interpretation of those ideas here in Fallbrook, especially the classic Roman villa, where rooms are grouped around a large atrium open to the sky. The layout of the Gird Estate is very much like that villa, except here the atrium is the double-height Great Room, almost 700 square feet, which opens to the dining room or leads to the five bedrooms and a spacious office.


With an open beam wood ceiling topping 19 feet and upper walls ringed with windows, the Great Room’s sense of unfettered airiness contrasts with the more sheltering dining room with its paneled mahogany walls and built-in cabinetry. Throughout, elaborate custom-designed copper or brass plated iron metal work for fireplace tongs, hinges, and latches—some as much as 20” long — grace the woodwork and doors.

Main Features:

Beds: 5
Bath(s): 3
Home Sq.Ft: 3,816
Lot Size: 1.37 Acres
3 car garage with attached workroom/studio

Offered at $1,245,000

For a virtual tour of the property, visit

Matt Berkley, M.A.
(626) 665-3699 mobile
BRE 01305277

Scott Lander, DC
(323) 697-4909 mobile
BRE 01320741

Barbara Lamprecht, PhD
(626) 264-7600 mobile
BRE 0259237









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