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Golden Hill’s 1910 Ed Fletcher Spec House — a notable one-off

Oddly, his worst investment was the one that bore his name: Fletcher Hills

It’s a tasteful sort of place, so take care not to stuff those curio cabinets with kitsch.
It’s a tasteful sort of place, so take care not to stuff those curio cabinets with kitsch.

Colonel Ed Fletcher made quite a name for himself in turn-of-the-last-century San Diego. Arriving in town at age 16 with just $6.10 in his pocket back in 1888, Fletcher turned a job selling produce in East County into a real estate empire, with stints in the military during World War I and the state Senate interspersed.

One of Fletcher’s most successful developments was the Grossmont area of Mt. Helix; we’ve featured one of the homes he built there in this column. Oddly, his worst investment was the one that bore his name: the Fletcher Hills subdivision in El Cajon started selling lots right as the Great Depression hit, and much of the neighborhood remained vacant until housing demand began to surge in the 1940s and ’50s.

While his grand projects — which included the development of Lake Henshaw and construction of a wooden flume that supplied water from the Laguna mountains to La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley in the 1920s — shaped entire communities, Fletcher also had some notable one-offs. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of those single houses Fletcher built, a 1910 spec home at 3174 B Street in the Golden Hill neighborhood just southeast of Balboa Park. “Stunning Mills Act home on a large...beautifully landscaped lot, situated at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac” is how the Zillow listing opens. I suppose if you’re pitching to a wealthy prospective buyer, you speak first to their money: the Mills Act allows for significant property tax deductions to owners of historic houses, and even though this one last sold for over $800,000 (more than a decade ago), it’s taxed as if it’s worth less than $350,000.

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The nicer of the two kitchens.

Now for the tour: we open with a photo of a spacious, though not enormous living room, with “gleaming hardwood floors” that look like they might even be original. I like the built-in curio cabinets that divide the space between the living and dining room, and even the wood-framed single pane windows look old. Maybe they’re not the most energy efficient, but it’s not too hot or too cold for more than a few weeks a year in San Diego, right? Next we get a shot of a plaque affixed to the house recognizing the “Ed Fletcher Spec House” as a registered historical landmark before heading to the yard. There’s nothing too fancy here — just a concrete patio with a few potted plants — but I do appreciate the patterned tile work on the stairs that lead up to the front door.

Inside, there are windows everywhere, which again may complicate heating and cooling, but they do afford some great views. We’re also told that it might be possible to split the home into a three-bedroom, two-bath unit upstairs with a second one-bedroom unit below, though it’s unclear so far whether there are two kitchens to make this work. The kitchen we see first is modern, yet not out of place, with natural wood cabinets, stone counters, an oversized stainless range, and one of those refrigerators that looks like it has a giant TV built into it. The first bedroom we see is nothing special, but 100 years ago, even rich people didn’t expect bedrooms the size of a moderate apartment. The bathroom, however, is interesting, with what looks like a copper vanity sink and a huge claw-foot tub with a complicated-looking faucet that could either be very old or just very expensive and styled to look like something old.

Now we’ll head back outside to wander around the grounds a bit more. It looks like the current owners aren’t much for yard work, as most of the spaces that aren’t wood decks or concrete patios are covered in gravel, with a few trees and plenty of potted plants scattered around so that the space doesn’t feel barren. Next we get some more pedestrian bedrooms, and a bath with floor-to-ceiling tiny patterned tiles in the shower that look like they could be old, but are in fact not. The tipoff is in the Schleuter lining the soap box (that metal stuff used to decorate tile edges in modern remodels).

We head downstairs (I just realized we’ve been on the upper level the whole time), where there’s another living room, a much more basic kitchen, plus a bedroom and storage room. I guess this house could function as two units after all. If I had a couple million dollars to spare, I could give this space to my teenage daughter to keep her close to home but also keep her mess out of my house.

The listing would also like us to know that there’s a “climate controlled wine room,” along with a sunroom and a roof outfitted with solar shingles and copper gutters. Also, the “foundation and all systems have had complete renovations,” which is probably a good idea in a house this old.

The Fletcher House went up for sale in late March for the first time since 2009; the asking price of $2.1 million remains unchanged to date.

  • 3174 B Street | San Diego, 92102
  • Current owner: Jurca Trust | Listing price: $2,100,000 | Beds: 4 | Baths: 3 | House size: 15,000+ sq ft

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It’s a tasteful sort of place, so take care not to stuff those curio cabinets with kitsch.
It’s a tasteful sort of place, so take care not to stuff those curio cabinets with kitsch.

Colonel Ed Fletcher made quite a name for himself in turn-of-the-last-century San Diego. Arriving in town at age 16 with just $6.10 in his pocket back in 1888, Fletcher turned a job selling produce in East County into a real estate empire, with stints in the military during World War I and the state Senate interspersed.

One of Fletcher’s most successful developments was the Grossmont area of Mt. Helix; we’ve featured one of the homes he built there in this column. Oddly, his worst investment was the one that bore his name: the Fletcher Hills subdivision in El Cajon started selling lots right as the Great Depression hit, and much of the neighborhood remained vacant until housing demand began to surge in the 1940s and ’50s.

While his grand projects — which included the development of Lake Henshaw and construction of a wooden flume that supplied water from the Laguna mountains to La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley in the 1920s — shaped entire communities, Fletcher also had some notable one-offs. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of those single houses Fletcher built, a 1910 spec home at 3174 B Street in the Golden Hill neighborhood just southeast of Balboa Park. “Stunning Mills Act home on a large...beautifully landscaped lot, situated at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac” is how the Zillow listing opens. I suppose if you’re pitching to a wealthy prospective buyer, you speak first to their money: the Mills Act allows for significant property tax deductions to owners of historic houses, and even though this one last sold for over $800,000 (more than a decade ago), it’s taxed as if it’s worth less than $350,000.

Sponsored
Sponsored
The nicer of the two kitchens.

Now for the tour: we open with a photo of a spacious, though not enormous living room, with “gleaming hardwood floors” that look like they might even be original. I like the built-in curio cabinets that divide the space between the living and dining room, and even the wood-framed single pane windows look old. Maybe they’re not the most energy efficient, but it’s not too hot or too cold for more than a few weeks a year in San Diego, right? Next we get a shot of a plaque affixed to the house recognizing the “Ed Fletcher Spec House” as a registered historical landmark before heading to the yard. There’s nothing too fancy here — just a concrete patio with a few potted plants — but I do appreciate the patterned tile work on the stairs that lead up to the front door.

Inside, there are windows everywhere, which again may complicate heating and cooling, but they do afford some great views. We’re also told that it might be possible to split the home into a three-bedroom, two-bath unit upstairs with a second one-bedroom unit below, though it’s unclear so far whether there are two kitchens to make this work. The kitchen we see first is modern, yet not out of place, with natural wood cabinets, stone counters, an oversized stainless range, and one of those refrigerators that looks like it has a giant TV built into it. The first bedroom we see is nothing special, but 100 years ago, even rich people didn’t expect bedrooms the size of a moderate apartment. The bathroom, however, is interesting, with what looks like a copper vanity sink and a huge claw-foot tub with a complicated-looking faucet that could either be very old or just very expensive and styled to look like something old.

Now we’ll head back outside to wander around the grounds a bit more. It looks like the current owners aren’t much for yard work, as most of the spaces that aren’t wood decks or concrete patios are covered in gravel, with a few trees and plenty of potted plants scattered around so that the space doesn’t feel barren. Next we get some more pedestrian bedrooms, and a bath with floor-to-ceiling tiny patterned tiles in the shower that look like they could be old, but are in fact not. The tipoff is in the Schleuter lining the soap box (that metal stuff used to decorate tile edges in modern remodels).

We head downstairs (I just realized we’ve been on the upper level the whole time), where there’s another living room, a much more basic kitchen, plus a bedroom and storage room. I guess this house could function as two units after all. If I had a couple million dollars to spare, I could give this space to my teenage daughter to keep her close to home but also keep her mess out of my house.

The listing would also like us to know that there’s a “climate controlled wine room,” along with a sunroom and a roof outfitted with solar shingles and copper gutters. Also, the “foundation and all systems have had complete renovations,” which is probably a good idea in a house this old.

The Fletcher House went up for sale in late March for the first time since 2009; the asking price of $2.1 million remains unchanged to date.

  • 3174 B Street | San Diego, 92102
  • Current owner: Jurca Trust | Listing price: $2,100,000 | Beds: 4 | Baths: 3 | House size: 15,000+ sq ft
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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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