Robinson Jeffers House
Tor House and Hawk Tower viewed from the southwest
|Location||26304 Ocean View Avenue, Carmel, California|
|Area||1.5 acres (0.61 ha)|
|Built by||Robinson Jeffers|
|NRHP reference No.||75000444|
|Added to NRHP||October 10, 1975|
Tor House and Hawk Tower are buildings in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States. They were the home of poet Robinson Jeffers and family from 1919 to 1999.
The two structures, often referred to jointly as Tor House, are generally believed to have played a crucial role in the development of Robinson Jeffers as a poet, and have inspired many a visitor; for example, Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog:
"Tor House is a poem-like masterpiece. It may express more direct intelligence per square inch than any other house in America."
The Jeffers family moved into Tor House in August 1919—after Robinson Jeffers had worked as an apprentice in its construction—and lived there for the remainder of their lives. Donnan Jeffers, one of the couple's two sons, lived with his family in the neighboring east wing of the house. They remained there until Donnan and his wife Lee died.
Jeffers named it Tor House after the type of ground on which the house was situated, a granite outcrop that might have been known as a "tor" in southwest England. He described the land he chose as the site for the house as being like a "prow and plunging cutwater" of a ship. The Carmel area's influence in Robinson Jeffers' work becomes apparent in his poems such as his work "The Purse Seine", a poem about the local fishing industry.
Jeffers' routine was to work on his poetry in the attic in the morning and to work on his building projects, such as Hawk Tower and expanding Tor House, in the afternoon.
Robinson Jeffers and his wife Una bought land at Carmel Point in Spring 1919, and in mid-May they contracted Mike Murphy, an established Carmel developer, to build them a stone cottage at Carmel Point. Murphy's stonemason began work on the house immediately and, with Jeffers signing on later as an apprentice, was able to complete the project by mid-August. Initially the house had one bedroom, a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom, and an attic.
Soon after the cottage was complete, Jeffers himself would begin building a detached garage and a low, enclosing wall for a courtyard. He completed these in 1920, and then began to work on a tower that would take him four years to complete. After ceasing his stonework for a year or two, he then began work on a dining hall that would be completed in 1930. In 1937, Jeffers began work on an east wing that he intended to serve as a home for his sons, who were both in their 20s by then. He was unable to finish this last project due to declining health, but his son Donnan managed to complete it.
The style of stonework on the property varies widely, from rectangular, cut stone of the original cottage, to the pick-a-rock-that-fits stonework of the garage and house extensions, to the wildly pocked and twisting character of Hawk Tower, to the minimalistic work performed by Donnan Jeffers on the East Wing. Stonework from 1924 onward tends to include a wealth of fragments from around the world, including stones, tiles, and various carvings. Quite a number of quotations are also etched in the stone and woodwork of the house.
The cottage was lit by oil lamps until 1949, when Una, dying from cancer, permitted the house to be wired for electricity.
After completing a stone garage and wall on his own, Jeffers started work on a tower that would take him four years to complete. He began construction in 1920 at the behest of his wife Una. The stonework for the tower was completed in late 1924. The woodwork was completed by a paid carpenter in 1925. Jeffers named the tower Hawk Tower, purportedly after a hawk that appeared often while he was building the tower, but stopped appearing after he finished construction. He appeared to adopt the hawk as his symbol at the time, placing Una's symbol (a unicorn) above her second-floor door and a hawk above the door to his third-floor lookout.
It was while Jeffers was engaged in building Hawk Tower between 1920 and 1924 that Jeffers is thought to have discovered his voice as a poet. He compiled and printed a limited run of the book Tamar and Other Poems well into the final year of tower stonework. He was not able to find a major publisher for the book until several editors from the Book Club of California discovered him.
The Kuster House, or the Kuster Castle, is often mistaken for Tor House. It, like Tor House, was built with granite stones from the surf at Carmel Point, but it is a good deal larger. It was built by Una Jeffers' ex-husband Edward "Teddie" Kuster after he followed Una and Robinson Jeffers from Southern California to Carmel. When Kuster built his house (in 1920),he built it next to the Jeffers property. Since that time, most of the Jeffers estate has been sold off, and many houses have been built between the two. The appearance of Kuster's house was generally seen as a scandalous act by the townsfolk, a transparent attempt to win Una back (or at least out-compete her) with a bigger Tor House. In spite of this, Kuster and Jeffers are said to have remained on good terms. Kuster also built (and rebuilt) Carmel's Golden Bough Playhouse.
Tor House is owned by the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation and has been preserved as it looked during Robinson Jeffers' life. Tours are limited to six people and are available hourly from 10am to 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are required.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply called Carmel, is a city in Monterey County, California, United States, founded in 1902 and incorporated on October 31, 1916. Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. In 1906, the San Francisco Call devoted a full page to the "artists, writers and poets at Carmel-by-the-Sea", and in 1910 it reported that 60 percent of Carmel's houses were built by citizens who were "devoting their lives to work connected to the aesthetic arts." Early City Councils were dominated by artists, and several of the city's mayors have been poets or actors, including Herbert Heron, founder of the Forest Theater, bohemian writer and actor Perry Newberry, and actor-director Clint Eastwood.
Robert Joseph Vila is an American home improvement television show host known for This Old House (1979–1989), Bob Vila's Home Again (1990–2005), and Bob Vila (2005–2007).
Whithorn, royal burgh in the historical county of Wigtownshire in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Wigtown. The town was the location of the first recorded Christian church in Scotland, Candida Casa : the 'White [or 'Shining'] House', built by Saint Ninian about 397.
John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Much of Jeffers's poetry was written in narrative and epic form. However, he is also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the environmental movement. Influential and highly regarded in some circles, despite or because of his philosophy of "inhumanism", Jeffers believed that transcending conflict required human concerns to be de-emphasized in favor of the boundless whole. This led him to oppose U.S. participation in World War II, a stance that was controversial after the U.S. entered the war.
George Sterling was an American writer based in the San Francisco, California Bay Area and Carmel-by-the-Sea. He was considered a prominent poet and playwright and proponent of Bohemianism during the first quarter of the twentieth century. His work was admired by writers as diverse as Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, and Sinclair Lewis, but is largely neglected today.
Bruce Price was an American architect and an innovator in the Shingle Style. The stark geometry and compact massing of his cottages in Tuxedo Park, New York, influenced Modernist architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Venturi.
Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is strongly associated with the English and succeeding British royal family, and embodies almost 1,000 years of architectural history.
Dundonald Castle is situated on a hill overlooking the village of Dundonald, between Kilmarnock and Troon in South Ayrshire, Scotland. Dundonald Castle is a fortified tower house built for Robert II on his accession to the throne of Scotland in 1371 and it was used as a royal residence by Robert II and his son Robert III.
The Golden Bough Playhouse is a historic theatre in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California on Monte Verde St., between 8th and 9th Avenues. The playhouse occupies the site of the former Carmel Arts and Crafts Clubhouse, Carmel's first cultural center and theatre, built in 1906-1907 on Casanova Street, and the Arts and Crafts Hall, built in 1923-1924 on an adjacent lot on Monte Verde Street.
Robert Michael Zaller is an American author whose works include volumes of history, criticism, and verse. He is Drexel Distinguished University Professor of History Emeritus, and has been active as an opponent of the death penalty.
Monterey County is a county on the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California, its northwestern section forming the southern half of Monterey Bay. As of 2000, the population was 401,762. The coastline includes Big Sur, State Route 1, and the 17 Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula. The city of Monterey was the capital of California under Spanish and Mexican rule. The economy is primarily based upon tourism in the coastal regions, and agriculture in the Salinas Valley. Monterey County was home to writer and Nobel prize laureate John Steinbeck, writer Robert Louis Stevenson, and California poet Robinson Jeffers.
The Maynard and Edith Hamlin Dixon House and Studio is a residence and former painting studio in Mount Carmel, Utah. Maynard Dixon was a prominent artist in the 1920s through 1940s who is best known for his landscape paintings of the American West. He moved to Mount Carmel in 1939 shortly after marrying Edith Hamlin, a muralist from San Francisco, California. The Dixons spent their summers in the home and wintered in Tucson, Arizona. Maynard Dixon died in 1946, and Edith brought his ashes back to his Mt. Carmel home. Shortly afterward, Edith ordered the construction of a painting studio on the lot, where she created several of her notable works. Edith Dixon sold the home in 1963 to watercolor artist Milford Zornes, who occasionally used the studio. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public.
The Alex Halone House in Thermopolis, Wyoming, was built by Finnish immigrant Alex Halone for his personal residence in 1909–1910. Halone, a stonemason, built several stone structures in Thermopolis. Three generations of the Halone family were stonemasons. The grounds include a log Finnish sauna built by Alex and Eugene Halone with assistance from Lauri Suikaonen in 1946-51.
Morley Baer, an American photographer and teacher, was born in Toledo, Ohio. Baer was head of the photography department at the San Francisco Art Institute, and known for his photographs of San Francisco's "Painted Ladies" Victorian houses, California buildings, landscape and seascapes.
Samuel Bolton Colburn was an experimental artist, evolving a modernist approach to landscape and genre scenes during the Depression era. In the 1930s California became known nationally for its Regionalist painters like Colburn, who depicted urban and rural views of native life. These artists’ preferred medium was watercolor and they worked quickly outdoors on location developing a painting style that was spontaneous, gestural and raw.
Hawk's Tor may refer to:
The Westgate Tower is a mixed-use high-rise building in downtown Austin, Texas. The twenty-six-story 261-foot (80 m) tower block was designed in 1962 and completed in 1966; its name reflects its location across the street from the west gate of the Texas State Capitol. Designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, the tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 2012.
"Birds and Fishes" is a poem by the American and Californian writer Robinson Jeffers. It is included in The Beginning and the End and Other Poems, published posthumously in 1963.
"Shine, Perishing Republic" is a poem by the American writer Robinson Jeffers. It describes an increasingly corrupt American empire, which it advices readers to view through the naturalizing perspective of social cycles. The poem was first published in 1925 in the collection Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems.
Tamar is an epic poem by the American writer Robinson Jeffers, first published in 1924. A tale of incest and violence, it follows Tamar Cauldwell, the daughter of a Californian ranch family, as she experiences transgression, hatred and destruction. Tamar was the first unrhymed narrative poem Jeffers wrote. The story makes references to the biblical Books of Samuel and deals with themes of nature and corruption.