The round house in Bolinas, California, is or at least was a masterpiece –
I have to admit that I’ve seen very few photos of it, and those that I have seen are nearly 50 years old. Yet the house still exists — one can find it on Google maps — and if it looks the way it did in 1966, it’s one of the most beautiful round houses in the country.
The happy result of a multi-year collaboration between architect Robert B. Marquis and woodworker Art Carpenter, the house’s owner, it showcases Marquis’ structural knowledge and Carpenter’s love of wood. Begun in about 1958, when Carpenter moved to Bolinas from San Francisco, the house wasn’t finished until 1965. “It was completely hand built,” said Carpenter’s son Tripp, who grew up there; every shelf, doorknob, table and counter was custom designed and made by hand.
Life magazine ran several pages of photos of the house in December 1966, calling it “a live-in piece of furniture.”
In explaining the choice of a circular form for the house, Tripp Carpenter said that his father had long wanted to do things differently. As Carpenter himself recalled in a 1982 interview with Fine Woodworking magazine, “I was a flower child before there were flower children.”