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Where the author of Corpus of Joe Bailey created fictional residents of Mission Hills

The house hearkens back to an era of craftsmanship markedly superior to modern construction.

Mission Hills’ storied history includes appearing in a story: Corpus of Joe Bailey.
Mission Hills’ storied history includes appearing in a story: Corpus of Joe Bailey.

Novelist Oakley Hall was best known for his Westerns, including Warlock, which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1958. But before rising to fame, the San Diego-born writer broke out with 1953’s Corpus of Joe Bailey, a novel which begins in and largely revolves around the goings-on of the fictional residents of Mission Hills, where Hall himself lived before moving with his mother to Hawaii. The book opens:

“Into the length of San Diego Bay the downtown area of San Diego protrudes like a bent elbow; the forearm then follows a gradually rising ridge northward to end in a promontory called Mission Hills, which, broken up into canyons and ridges, resembles very much a hand with the fingers clenched to hold it tightly there, above the mudflats and Old Town. The main artery of Mission Hills is Fort Stockton Drive, which follows the central ridge to the end of the promontory. Intersecting Fort Stockton, side streets run out on the tributary ridges where there are smaller neighborhoods within the whole of Mission Hills.”

Enjoy an outdoor shower in the secluded courtyard!

Just a block north of that Fort Stockton thoroughfare is where we’ll find this week’s offering: 1765 West Arbor Drive. The 1691-square-foot “gorgeous Spanish style home,” according to promotional materials retrieved from Redfin, is “located on a quaint street, in an ideal walkable location, in the highly desirable neighborhood of Mission Hills.”

Built in 1923, the 98-year-old house would be a little older than that of Hall’s protagonist, but it’s recently undergone some extensive upgrades.

From the street, we see the traditional Spanish architecture of the day – flat roof, red tile entryway cover, a raised front porch. There’s a neatly-trimmed front lawn, and a bougainvillea has been sculpted to surround one of the arched front windows.

Inside, the “open concept living room, dining, and kitchen boasts an abundance of natural light,” breaking from formal design a century ago that would have walled off separate spaces for lounging, eating, and cooking. The kitchen has been updated to include stainless appliances, new cabinetry, and stone counters with a breakfast bar underneath the arched passageway to the dining room.

In a nod to history, the original glass-doored, built-in hutch in the dining room remains, as do the vintage shining hardwood floors. The arched passageways, oversized baseboards, and thick door framing all hearken back to an era of craftsmanship markedly superior to modern construction.

While the home itself is much smaller than others seen here over the years, there’s still enough room in the main suite for a separate sitting room and walk-in closet, along with an updated spa bath and direct passage to the rear courtyard.

The “beautiful guest bath is accented with marble tile, intricate mosaic floors, and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures.”

The private courtyard is outfitted with paving stone and flanked on three sides by the house, but there’s still enough room for a basketball hoop and, for some reason, an outdoor shower. Other amenities include an electric vehicle charging station and a solar installation to power the home.

“Widely regarded as one of San Diego’s finest neighborhoods, Mission Hills features elegant homes along tree-lined streets, a thriving business district, and above all, a strong sense of community,” the home’s listing boasts. “With its lush landscaping and winding canyons, driving into Mission Hills is like entering another era.”

Public records show James DiGiacinto, a local mortgage professional, as the West Arbor home’s current owner. It last sold in 2006 for a reported $730,000, and was listed again in late March with an asking price of $1,325,000.

  • 1765 W. Arbor Drive | Mission Hills, 92103
  • Beds: 3 | Baths: 3 | Current Owner: DiGiacinto Trust | List Price: $1,325,000
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Mission Hills’ storied history includes appearing in a story: Corpus of Joe Bailey.
Mission Hills’ storied history includes appearing in a story: Corpus of Joe Bailey.

Novelist Oakley Hall was best known for his Westerns, including Warlock, which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1958. But before rising to fame, the San Diego-born writer broke out with 1953’s Corpus of Joe Bailey, a novel which begins in and largely revolves around the goings-on of the fictional residents of Mission Hills, where Hall himself lived before moving with his mother to Hawaii. The book opens:

“Into the length of San Diego Bay the downtown area of San Diego protrudes like a bent elbow; the forearm then follows a gradually rising ridge northward to end in a promontory called Mission Hills, which, broken up into canyons and ridges, resembles very much a hand with the fingers clenched to hold it tightly there, above the mudflats and Old Town. The main artery of Mission Hills is Fort Stockton Drive, which follows the central ridge to the end of the promontory. Intersecting Fort Stockton, side streets run out on the tributary ridges where there are smaller neighborhoods within the whole of Mission Hills.”

Enjoy an outdoor shower in the secluded courtyard!

Just a block north of that Fort Stockton thoroughfare is where we’ll find this week’s offering: 1765 West Arbor Drive. The 1691-square-foot “gorgeous Spanish style home,” according to promotional materials retrieved from Redfin, is “located on a quaint street, in an ideal walkable location, in the highly desirable neighborhood of Mission Hills.”

Built in 1923, the 98-year-old house would be a little older than that of Hall’s protagonist, but it’s recently undergone some extensive upgrades.

From the street, we see the traditional Spanish architecture of the day – flat roof, red tile entryway cover, a raised front porch. There’s a neatly-trimmed front lawn, and a bougainvillea has been sculpted to surround one of the arched front windows.

Inside, the “open concept living room, dining, and kitchen boasts an abundance of natural light,” breaking from formal design a century ago that would have walled off separate spaces for lounging, eating, and cooking. The kitchen has been updated to include stainless appliances, new cabinetry, and stone counters with a breakfast bar underneath the arched passageway to the dining room.

In a nod to history, the original glass-doored, built-in hutch in the dining room remains, as do the vintage shining hardwood floors. The arched passageways, oversized baseboards, and thick door framing all hearken back to an era of craftsmanship markedly superior to modern construction.

While the home itself is much smaller than others seen here over the years, there’s still enough room in the main suite for a separate sitting room and walk-in closet, along with an updated spa bath and direct passage to the rear courtyard.

The “beautiful guest bath is accented with marble tile, intricate mosaic floors, and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures.”

The private courtyard is outfitted with paving stone and flanked on three sides by the house, but there’s still enough room for a basketball hoop and, for some reason, an outdoor shower. Other amenities include an electric vehicle charging station and a solar installation to power the home.

“Widely regarded as one of San Diego’s finest neighborhoods, Mission Hills features elegant homes along tree-lined streets, a thriving business district, and above all, a strong sense of community,” the home’s listing boasts. “With its lush landscaping and winding canyons, driving into Mission Hills is like entering another era.”

Public records show James DiGiacinto, a local mortgage professional, as the West Arbor home’s current owner. It last sold in 2006 for a reported $730,000, and was listed again in late March with an asking price of $1,325,000.

  • 1765 W. Arbor Drive | Mission Hills, 92103
  • Beds: 3 | Baths: 3 | Current Owner: DiGiacinto Trust | List Price: $1,325,000
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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