This 16-room Arts and Crafts masterpiece on the edge of San Diego's Balboa Park was the home of George and Anna Marston and their five children. Marston, a philanthropist, civic leader and owner of the city's premier department store, commissioned architects William S. Hebbard and Irving Gill to build an English Tudor-style home. Mid-project, Gill visited his old friend Frank Lloyd Wright and was inspired to change the design. The result is this 1905 Craftsman masterpiece.
Why it's a treasure: The design was cutting edge then, and it's still relevant today, with rooftop copper pipes for solar water heating and a cistern that recycles rainwater for the gardens. No power tools were used in the home's construction: Marvel at the flush butterfly joints that hold together the old-growth redwood paneling in the living room.
Why you'd want to live here: As golden light filters through the windows in late afternoon, it feels like home. Serene. Comforting. Hear George and Anna enjoying easy conversation with Teddy Roosevelt, Kate Sessions and Booker T. Washington; listen to the squeals of scampering grandchildren. Be transported.
Why you wouldn't: Fourteen tour groups a day, four to five days a week.
The surprise: Three of George Marston's great-grandchildren, now in their 60s, come almost daily to visit the home and walk in the gardens.
Info: Marston House Museum, 3525 7th Ave., San Diego; (619) 298-3142, http://www.marstonhouse.org. Open 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Fridays-Mondays, Labor Day to Memorial Day; add Thursdays in summer. Tours start every half-hour and are 40 to 45 minutes. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and those 65 and older, $4 for ages 6-12, ages 5 and younger free.
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