BEVERLEY DAVID THORNE (1924-)
David Thorne grew up in Piedmont CA. At age 9, he designed his first house near Auburn CA and helped his grandfather build it. After four years as an Air Force pilot, Thorne studied architecture at UC Berkeley, graduating in 1950. He worked for David S. Johnson and then spent almost two years traveling through Europe and the Middle East. From 1953-54 he worked for architect Roger Lee who taught him the importance of economy. During that time, Thorne did a spec house for a developer who introduced him to musician Dave Brubeck. Thorne designed Brubeck a house on the side while still employed with Lee.
In 1954, Thorne went out on his own. The Brubeck house catapulted him into mostly unwanted fame. His notoriety attracted rich clients but distanced him from the kinds of clients he wanted -- simple souls desiring inexpensive homes. He deliberately dropped out of sight with an unlisted phone number and changed his professional name from David to Beverley. In the 1980's, he resurfaced, so to speak, and now practices from Hawaii.
Thorne is the last living architect to have participated in Arts & Architecture's famous 1945 to 1966 Case Study Houses, a project to introduce modern architecture to the public. He designed over 150 houses, most on steep hillsides and built out of steel. His three children, David, Stephen, and Kevin are all architects.
1954 - His most famous project is the cantilevered Dave and Iola Brubeck House, aka the Heartwood House, aka Brubeck West, 6630 Heartwood Drive, Oakland-Northwest Hills CA. Commissioned 1949. Built by Art Houvanitz. The result was so breathtaking that Ed Sullivan did a show featuring the Brubeck Quartet at the house. Thorne and his wife Patricia lived there for three months during construction. Sold in 1994 to current owners Christianne and Michael Cheney.
1954 - The Harry C. Nail House, Atherton CA. Consulting Engineer, Carl Replogle. Built by John Davenport. 2000 sf.
1955 - 8410 Betty Lane, El Cerrito CA. Sold to Eugene and Helen Lawlor. Sold in 2010 to Rajesh Behl and Gayatri Chugh.
1957 - 23 Sequoyah View Drive, Oakland CA. Upon opening, a helicopter landed on the roof, and it remained open to the paying public for months as a tourist attraction with proceeds going to charity. Current owner Augustus Moore, Jr.
1957 - The Rock Logan House, Oakland CA.
1959 - The Robert K. and Dorothy Adamson House, 1545 Campus Drive, Berkeley CA. Commissioned 1957. Built for current owners.
1959 - The Bartlett House, Huntington Lake CA. About 65 miles from Fresno CA. Won a 1959 American Iron and Steel Institute Award.
1960 - The Dave Brubeck House II, 211 Millstone Road, Wilton CT -- where they still live.
1962 - The John Dennis House, Mill Valley CA. Structural Engineer: Montgomery and Davis. Steel by American Steel Corporation.
1962 - The Hahn House, El Cerrito CA.
1963 - The Harrison House, aka the H. Harrison Fuller house, aka Case Study House #26, aka the Ketchum House, 177 San Marino Drive, San Rafael CA. Originally designed for Fuller but he decided not to move in and it was sold in later 1962 to Gary and Renee Ketchum. Commissioned in early 1962. Was for lease in early 2011. 1955 sf.
1963 - 55 Alhambra Court, Portola Valley CA. Current owner Michael J. Nuttal.
1964 - The Loren J. Westhaver House, 77-6548 Alii Drive, Kona, Hawaii. The house is built entirely of steel, and was erected and welded together by both Thorne and Westhaver themselves. Has been sold and modified.
1965 - 473 Stonecrest Drive, Napa CA. 5650 sf. The landscaping was designed by Casey Kawamoto. Sold to Richard Konecky. Sold in 2010.
1970 - The Nona B. Dennis House, 69 Marlin Avenue, Mill Valley CA.
1972 - The Wally Runswick House, aka the Music House, 38 Sunset Lane, Berkeley CA. Sold to Alice Pasqualetti and her husband. Sold in 1996 to Sandra Soderlund and Herbert Bielawa.
Year unknown - The Edward (Ed) Baker House, aka the Millennium House, 6333-6335 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland CA. Named because Baker wanted a house that would last 1000 years. It was commissioned in 2000. 4000 sf. Bottom photo by Lee Suzuki.
Sources include: LA Times, SFGate, NorCalMod: Icons of Northern California Modernist Architecture by Pierluigi Serraino, Herb Bielawa.
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