Address: 928 Fellowship Road
Status: On the market
The first time I saw 928 Fellowship Road, I was bowled over by the character of this unique pueblo-style adobe atop the Mesa. It’s a tall two-story home with rustic beamed ceilings, an ancient brick staircase leading steeply up from the street to the front door, a wall of windows peering down over the rambling hill of a front yard, a tree-house feel upstairs, and a clubhouse feel downstairs. It has two front doors, both with unique stained-glass “speakeasy” windows, and two back doors, one through the kitchen and one downstairs on the side of the house that’s about four feet tall. It’s perfect for a hobbit or an Ewok or a pair of 6- and 8-year-old brothers with vivid imaginations.
I know this because the first time I saw 928 Fellowship Road was in the summer of 1996. The walls were bare white, the landscaping was nonexistent, and the house was completely empty. The realtor sat and smiled as my husband walked through the house marveling at its details, while our two energetic sons ran through the place, exclaiming how cool it was. I couldn’t stop staring out the living room windows at the view. We were hooked, and she knew it.
The boys were right. The house was cool, and it still is. There are secret doorways, kid-sized closets, and even a rustic basement. Many things have changed about the house since 1996. But the view from the living room was and will always be its most striking feature.
True to Mesa weather patterns, there is a peek of an ocean view, but only when the fog clears. When it does, the wood-framed, vertical-paned living room windows let the sun shine in generously during the day and provide dramatic moonlit views at night. These windows line three of the living room walls and open wide with wrought-iron latches and hand-hewn hooks to hold them in place. No matter how that room might be configured or decorated, the windows, and the view beyond, can’t help but be the focal point of the upstairs of this home.
The bones of this house are solid and show through in some cases even at a glance. The living room was once a patio or deck. The original roofline is evident below the windows and creates a little bench seat on the wall nearest the kitchen. The walls are actual adobe, rather than plaster fashioned to look authentic. They are the real deal. There truly is not a flat wall surface in the house. These thick walls keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter, especially downstairs.
In addition to the aforementioned living room with a view, the upstairs includes a colorful compact kitchen with a big window facing onto the back patio and a master bedroom with a huge fireplace and an updated bathroom. A steep staircase in the center of the house leads downstairs. As you descend, it feels like you’re walking into the hold of a ship or into a secret lair. The bedroom to the left has a step-up closet that was a perfect hiding place for a 6-year-old from his older brother. The bedroom to the right has an attached bonus room behind it, which could be a laundry room, sitting room, or both. In between the bedrooms is a bathroom with a vertical glass-brick wall. I love the glass brick. It feels as if you’re taking a shower outdoors, yet you have complete privacy.
Privacy is one of the recurring themes here. Removed from the street by the steep front staircase, you’re literally above what’s an already quiet neighborhood. This altitude plus the trees around and below combine to create an atmosphere of peaceful solitude that permeates the house.
Some of the prettiest details were our doing: the Mexican tile counters and backsplash in the kitchen, the handcrafted willow-twig kitchen cabinetry, the Saltillo tile floors throughout the living room and kitchen, and the paint colors on every interior and exterior surface. While some paint was added, even more was eliminated. We sandblasted the ceilings in several of the rooms, removing the paint to reveal entire eucalyptus log beams. The gorgeous redwood front doors had been painted dark brown, so they were taken down to their natural state, as well.
The house has a separate studio room nestled under a big, beautiful oak tree that would be a great office, playroom, or art studio. Like many features of this home, it’s limited only by your imagination.
The exact pedigree of the property is murky but interesting. It is purported to have been built in the early 1920s by the Fellowship Society, a group that attempted to be a self-sustaining farming commune in this Mesa neighborhood in the 1920s and ’30s. This relatively short-lived community has the nearby streets of Fellowship Lane, Fellowship Circle, and Fellowship Road as its namesakes.
For house hunters who find comfort in the predictable practicality of cookie-cutter tract homes, this may not be the home for you. But everyone who loves this home, LOVES this home. It has personality, character, and history galore. Some of it belongs to the house, and some belongs to the people who have inhabited it. I’ll cherish every memory that I have of this home and hope that its next residents share as much fun and love inside its walls as we did.
928 Fellowship Road is currently for sale in Santa Barbara, listed by Malante Hayworth of Harbor View Real Estate & Investments. Reach Malante at (805) 886-8484.