The Early Years: The Architecture of Rolling Hills

The Architecture of Rolling Hills

The structure of Rancho Elastico was typical of the early California ranch houses. When you drove from San Diego to the Coast highway to Monterey, the country was dotted with attractive ranch homes. It cost $4.00 per square foot to build an average home inRolling Hills in 1937.

I decided that all the buildings built in Rolling Hills would have a white exterior. They would fit in with the emerald green of the new grain in the spring, and would harmonize with the bare earth after the hay was baled in the Fall. If they were white we would not have the problem that some communities with a high architectural standard had come up against – and that was that a fine architect would paint the exterior of the house a very subtle color. Four or five years later, the house would be sold and the new owner would decide to repaint that lovely, very subtle yellow house again. He did not have the expertise of a trained architect and could no show his painter the kind of a light yellow it should be – or he would decide that he would rather have a “motel green” exterior, and the first thing you knew the character of the neighborhood changed, for the worse. But if it was white, it was white. We painted our gatehouse, the first building erected in Rolling Hills white, and we said, “that is the color we approve.”

The roofs were to be of shingle or shake, weathered. We didn’t want red tile roofs. They are not harmonious in a neighborhood unless all roofs are red tile.

The homeowner could do anything he wished on the interior. Every ranchito had to be fenced with a three-rail, white fence. We, the developers, installed all the three-rail, white fences on the road frontage. The cost was included in the price of the land. All other exterior fencing had to be matching height and design, and white – but was paid for by the individual landowner. We, the land developers, planted roadside trees and shrubs. Because of the contour of the land, we could not put in uniform street tree planting, nor did we wish to. We did do roadside planting of trees and shrubs, using those trees and shrubs that would give the greatest effect and still be economical to take care of.

It is hard to realize now, when you drive through Rolling Hills, what it was like in 1936. You could stand at the Rolling Hills gatehouse and look toward Crest Road, and the only trees in sight on several thousand acres were those trees planted at Ranch Elastico, or away on the distant skyline, the trees around the Roy McCarrell houses.

Excerpt from, ” Rolling Hills: The Early Years” by A. E. Hansen

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