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Ortiz Rubio’s Spanish Colonial Revival in Kensington has a touch of Ignacio Martinez Rendon artwork

It’s quite possible that this is where he chose to spend at least part of his self-imposed exile

All of the decorative painting by Ignacio Martinez Rendon is either incredibly well preserved or has been touched up over the years.
All of the decorative painting by Ignacio Martinez Rendon is either incredibly well preserved or has been touched up over the years.

If you think modern presidential politics have become a bit messy in the country over the last decade and change, let me tell you a story about Mexico 100 years ago. In 1923, outgoing president Alvaro Obregon tapped Plutarco Elías Calles as his successor. Calles, who was suspected of remaining under the influence of Obregon, seemed to prove folks right when he pushed through a constitutional reform in 1926 that allowed the re-election of presidents, so long as they didn’t serve consecutive terms. (Previously, an individual was allowed to serve only a single term as Mexican president.) Sure enough, Calles threw his weight behind the re-installation of Obregon, who handily won election for a second term in 1928. Obregon did not, however, become Mexico’s first repeat president, as he was assassinated months before assuming office.

Seeking a way to maintain power but still unable to serve consecutive presidential terms, Calles formed a new political party, one which would eventually become known as the PRI and also maintain a solitary grip on Mexican politics for decades to come. He then installed Emilio Portes Gil as interim president until new elections could be called, at which point his selected candidate Pascual Ortiz Rubio won handily (if the disputed official election results are to be believed, that is).

Ortiz Rubio didn’t stick around, however: after surviving an assassination attempt of his own early in his term, and failing to establish any independence from Calles’ PRI (which he called “a thinly-veiled dictatorship” in his memoirs), he resigned the presidency in 1932 and exiled himself to the United States for several years.

I’m telling you this ridiculously oversimplified story because the Zillow remarks for this week’s house tell us that the Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Kensington “was once in the hands of” Ortiz Rubio. It was built in 1928, so he likely wasn’t the first owner, but it’s also quite possible that this is where he chose to spend at least part of his self-imposed exile.

The perfect spot for a debauched, Gatsbyesque affair.

So, since this is a column about houses, let’s talk about the house: 4321 Alder Drive has four bedrooms and four baths spread across a little more than 4000 square feet of living space. The first photo is of a brick-encased, carved wood front door that the listing bills as “elaborate and unique.” We get a few more shots of the front yard — covered in dry, brown grass — and the detached garage, along with a couple of street scenes, before we get inside.

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Here, we are told, the home’s “colorful past is matched with the incredible artwork of renowned Mexican artist and set designer Ignacio Martinez Rendon in the front enclosed loggia.” While it looks like there is indeed a vibrant and colorful mural on the ceiling, we unfortunately don’t get any shots that give us a very clear look at it before we’re shunted off to a rather pedestrian-looking (if quite large) laundry room. Still, if the murals on the wall are any indication, Martinez Rendon probably did a nice job up high as well. (All of the work is either incredibly well-preserved or has been touched up over the years, I can’t really tell.)

Back outside, we see a large, partially-covered second floor deck overlooking canyonland, with what looks like an outdoor kitchen and a central fountain. This would make for a great place to host a Great Gatsby-esque debauched cocktail party, as I hope Ortiz Rubio had occasion to do back in the ‘30s. Then a bunch of outdoor shots follow, including a few of a hallway that leave me unsure whether we’re indoors or out, since the Saltillo tile seems to follow us everywhere. I do like the river rock retaining walls and staircases down to several lower terraces, however.

When we finally make it back inside, we’re in a very small dining room; there is barel enough space for a four-top table. What really interests me are the drawers that seem to be built into the wall – how deep must that wall be, to have drawers inside it? The baths seem to be well-maintained and all original, with tile work that extends up the walls even outside the shower. “The kitchen with vintage appliances will please any chef,” we’re told, but it appears to have been updated at some point, and while the appliances do look old, I suspect they’re some sort of retro-modern reproductions. (I’m not aware of dishwashers having been a thing in the 1920s, for example.) Later, we get to a large formal dining room – the little one we saw earlier was actually a breakfast nook, it seems. That’s good, because this looks like a house for parties, and that tiny space would’ve been no good for company.

The “magnificent step-down living room with beamed ceiling, majestic fireplace and ample room to create a few seating areas” is as advertised, though my own living room also has space for “a few seating areas,” if we’re counting a couch and a couple of chairs as constituting an “area.” Personally, I’m more interested in the secondary family/living room, the one with coffered ceilings and intricate floral patterns between the beams.

The bedrooms are all fine and fairly spacious given the home’s vintage, but then we come to a very odd bathroom, which I assume is part of the main suite — but I can’t be sure. There’s a doorless passageway that leads down a half flight of steps to a landing with a stuffed chair looking at a tub, separate shower, and pedestal sink all sitting on a raised platform, and another tiled nook that I assumes holds a toilet without a door. What is this space for? Is someone just going to sit in that chair and watch me take a bath? I don’t like this.

We finish with some aerial exterior shots that illustrate the home’s position on the edge of a canyon; the setup offers a bit of privacy for those in the backyard — which yard is much more finished than those belonging to the neighbors.

Public records show the Alder Drive estate last sold in April 2022 for $2.5 million; the asking price then was $2,679,000, and the buyers were Michael and Rhonda Teggin. It was re-listed in mid-February with an asking price of $2,499,000 that remains unchanged to date.

4321 Alder Drive | San Diego, 92116

Current owner: Michael & Rhonda Teggin | Listing price: $2,499,000 | Beds: 4 | Baths: 4 | House size: 4000

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All of the decorative painting by Ignacio Martinez Rendon is either incredibly well preserved or has been touched up over the years.
All of the decorative painting by Ignacio Martinez Rendon is either incredibly well preserved or has been touched up over the years.

If you think modern presidential politics have become a bit messy in the country over the last decade and change, let me tell you a story about Mexico 100 years ago. In 1923, outgoing president Alvaro Obregon tapped Plutarco Elías Calles as his successor. Calles, who was suspected of remaining under the influence of Obregon, seemed to prove folks right when he pushed through a constitutional reform in 1926 that allowed the re-election of presidents, so long as they didn’t serve consecutive terms. (Previously, an individual was allowed to serve only a single term as Mexican president.) Sure enough, Calles threw his weight behind the re-installation of Obregon, who handily won election for a second term in 1928. Obregon did not, however, become Mexico’s first repeat president, as he was assassinated months before assuming office.

Seeking a way to maintain power but still unable to serve consecutive presidential terms, Calles formed a new political party, one which would eventually become known as the PRI and also maintain a solitary grip on Mexican politics for decades to come. He then installed Emilio Portes Gil as interim president until new elections could be called, at which point his selected candidate Pascual Ortiz Rubio won handily (if the disputed official election results are to be believed, that is).

Ortiz Rubio didn’t stick around, however: after surviving an assassination attempt of his own early in his term, and failing to establish any independence from Calles’ PRI (which he called “a thinly-veiled dictatorship” in his memoirs), he resigned the presidency in 1932 and exiled himself to the United States for several years.

I’m telling you this ridiculously oversimplified story because the Zillow remarks for this week’s house tell us that the Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Kensington “was once in the hands of” Ortiz Rubio. It was built in 1928, so he likely wasn’t the first owner, but it’s also quite possible that this is where he chose to spend at least part of his self-imposed exile.

The perfect spot for a debauched, Gatsbyesque affair.

So, since this is a column about houses, let’s talk about the house: 4321 Alder Drive has four bedrooms and four baths spread across a little more than 4000 square feet of living space. The first photo is of a brick-encased, carved wood front door that the listing bills as “elaborate and unique.” We get a few more shots of the front yard — covered in dry, brown grass — and the detached garage, along with a couple of street scenes, before we get inside.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Here, we are told, the home’s “colorful past is matched with the incredible artwork of renowned Mexican artist and set designer Ignacio Martinez Rendon in the front enclosed loggia.” While it looks like there is indeed a vibrant and colorful mural on the ceiling, we unfortunately don’t get any shots that give us a very clear look at it before we’re shunted off to a rather pedestrian-looking (if quite large) laundry room. Still, if the murals on the wall are any indication, Martinez Rendon probably did a nice job up high as well. (All of the work is either incredibly well-preserved or has been touched up over the years, I can’t really tell.)

Back outside, we see a large, partially-covered second floor deck overlooking canyonland, with what looks like an outdoor kitchen and a central fountain. This would make for a great place to host a Great Gatsby-esque debauched cocktail party, as I hope Ortiz Rubio had occasion to do back in the ‘30s. Then a bunch of outdoor shots follow, including a few of a hallway that leave me unsure whether we’re indoors or out, since the Saltillo tile seems to follow us everywhere. I do like the river rock retaining walls and staircases down to several lower terraces, however.

When we finally make it back inside, we’re in a very small dining room; there is barel enough space for a four-top table. What really interests me are the drawers that seem to be built into the wall – how deep must that wall be, to have drawers inside it? The baths seem to be well-maintained and all original, with tile work that extends up the walls even outside the shower. “The kitchen with vintage appliances will please any chef,” we’re told, but it appears to have been updated at some point, and while the appliances do look old, I suspect they’re some sort of retro-modern reproductions. (I’m not aware of dishwashers having been a thing in the 1920s, for example.) Later, we get to a large formal dining room – the little one we saw earlier was actually a breakfast nook, it seems. That’s good, because this looks like a house for parties, and that tiny space would’ve been no good for company.

The “magnificent step-down living room with beamed ceiling, majestic fireplace and ample room to create a few seating areas” is as advertised, though my own living room also has space for “a few seating areas,” if we’re counting a couch and a couple of chairs as constituting an “area.” Personally, I’m more interested in the secondary family/living room, the one with coffered ceilings and intricate floral patterns between the beams.

The bedrooms are all fine and fairly spacious given the home’s vintage, but then we come to a very odd bathroom, which I assume is part of the main suite — but I can’t be sure. There’s a doorless passageway that leads down a half flight of steps to a landing with a stuffed chair looking at a tub, separate shower, and pedestal sink all sitting on a raised platform, and another tiled nook that I assumes holds a toilet without a door. What is this space for? Is someone just going to sit in that chair and watch me take a bath? I don’t like this.

We finish with some aerial exterior shots that illustrate the home’s position on the edge of a canyon; the setup offers a bit of privacy for those in the backyard — which yard is much more finished than those belonging to the neighbors.

Public records show the Alder Drive estate last sold in April 2022 for $2.5 million; the asking price then was $2,679,000, and the buyers were Michael and Rhonda Teggin. It was re-listed in mid-February with an asking price of $2,499,000 that remains unchanged to date.

4321 Alder Drive | San Diego, 92116

Current owner: Michael & Rhonda Teggin | Listing price: $2,499,000 | Beds: 4 | Baths: 4 | House size: 4000

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