The opening of Burlingame by real estate developers McFadden and Buxton in 1912 coincided with the peak of the biggest building boom in San Diego since the late 1880s. Sales and construction were brisk in the first year with many homes being built for newcomers to California. In the ten years following the opening of the tract east of Balboa Park, Burlingame became a showcase of diverse architectural fantasies. Artificial developments which gave character to the tract were streets contoured to the shape of the canyon’s rim and paved with decomposed granite; concrete sidewalks and crosswalks tinted dull red; cast iron street lamps with arc lights and underground conduit; ornamental gates and a promised, fully equipped children’s canyon playground.
2447 Dulzura, completed August 1912
The Rhinehart house at 2447 Dulzura, was one of William Wheeler’s first assignments for McFadden and Buxton’s firm. The exterior of the Rhinehart house originally was sheathed with clapboard siding to the base of the second story which was plastered. Across the front of the house, a wooden pergola supported by massive columns of clinker brick extended beyond the south side of the house as a porte-cochere over the driveway to the garage. Promotional sales literature described the interior as getting “plenty of sunshine through its many windows. The living room … is bright and warm all day, while the morning sun pours through the French doors of the breakfast room”. A feature similar to that of many of the Wheeler houses was the flexible arrangement of spaces to allow either openness or isolation. “The front door does not open into the living room, allowing the guest to step awkwardly into an intimate family scene – the attractive panelled hallway prevents that. There is privacy at table, too, for the dining room is across the hall from the living room and may be cut off with sliding doors”.
3171 Kalmia c. 1998
3171 Kalmia was the first of ten Kalmia Street houses designed by Wheeler and constructed by the McIntyre group. This building became the McIntyre residence while the other nine houses were under construction. The house, an austere, two-story Mission Revival structure with third-story mirador tower room, probably reflects Wheeler’s budding fascination with Spanish Colonial architecture. The form of the house is an eccentric mix of exaggerated Mission Revival with overtones of Cubist Style. By the first of January, 1913, the ten Kalmia houses were virtually completed although notices of completion were not filed until May. In February and March 1913, numerable liens against the properties were filed by lenders and subcontractors who were not paid by the McIntyres for their services.
For many years, 2525 San Marcos, with its baroque parapet walls and Moorish details, was the most avant-garde house in the tract. These Mediterranean details on the exterior, however, enclosed interior spaces which were purely Craftsman in the style of open planning. Reception hall, living room and dining room were lightly screened from one another by transparent French doors, glass-front cabinets and columnade. The living room fireplace and the dining room buffet were unique in their rough brick construction. The flamboyant details of this house, built during the summer of 1912 by Charles C. Swift of the construction firm Swift and Hawkins, may explain the fact that it remained in the hands of the Burlingame Syndicate for several years after its completion. Although the more conventional Mediterranean style houses in the tract sold immediately, the house at 2525 San Marcos remained a rental until it was purchased in 1920 by Charles Crouch, an attorney and local real estate investor originally from Iowa. By that time, the style had ceased to be controversial and in the next decade seemed meek compared to the elaborately sculptured decorations of the stucco villas which proliferated throughout the city.