Sir Harry Downie (1890-1980), responsible for the restoration of our California Missions, was named to the knighthood of St Gregory by Pope Pius as well as receiving knighthood from King Juan Carlos of Spain for his lifelong efforts restoring many of the artifacts found in the rubble of deteriorated missions, many dating back to the mid 1700's.
The Sir Harry Downie residence was deemed historically significant under the California Register "criterion II", for its association with Harry J. Downie, who spent his productive life restoring many of the Franciscan missions throughout California. The home was also deemed significant under "criterion III", in the area of architecture as a good representative example of early (1938) California Ranch Style residential design.
In the years following his death, Sir Harry's home fell into a state of disrepair. The home had not yet been classified as "historic" when purchased by its new owners in 2003. The new owners realizing the hidden treasure that it was, began the painstaking process of renovation. They knew that under the over growth of weeds, cracked plaster and rusted windows laid an incredible Carmel masterpiece waiting to re-emerge. In their effort to make the home more livable they decided a new Master Bedroom and Bath was in order. The clients requested a space that would complement the existing architecture yet be unique enough to stand on its own merits, not taking away from Sir Harry's original effort.
The parcels existing conditions presented many challenges as well; Historic regulatory hurdles, minimal allowable coverage, an original adobe courtyard wall that was to be preserved and most importantly agency protected Oak trees that could not be endangered. After considerable effort we found a way to thread a 540 square foot addition through the branches of sacred Oaks, overcome the regulatory hurdles and preserve the existing homes original charm and character.
Lastly, we've been told by those who knew Sir Harry, "He would of applauded the effort".
Carmel | Sir Harry Downie , Historic Residence | Addition/ Renovation/Restoration
Carmel Mission, circa 1880