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Craftsman update on display in Healdsburg

Alan Lane's craftsman home in Healdsburg is included in this year's Healdsburg Home Tour.

Published: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.

It started out as a spec house, built with no particular owner or buyer in mind. But somewhere along the way, contractor Alan Lane began to bond with the place. Before he knew it, he and his wife, Ann Marie Montecuollo, were buying out his partner on the project and making plans to move to Healdsburg.



It's the season for seeing how other folks live. From Healdsburg to Mendocino County, homeowners are opening their front doors and garden gates to visitors, who can grab ideas for their own home improvement projects or just admire what others have done.
- AAUW Healdsburg 23rd Annual Homes Tour: A self-guided walking tour of seven homes within an easy stroll of The Plaza. Stops include a hidden loft decorated by Healdsburg designer Jacques St. Dizier, a Victorian with turret room, a contemporary Craftsman, the Victorian Camellia Inn and the historic Isabelle Simi home with a big wraparound porch. Proceeds benefit scholarships and public education. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 5. $35 in advance, 40 the day of the tour, at the Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson. 974-8403 or
- Eco-Friendly Garden Tour: Free tour co-sponsored by the Sonoma County Water Agency features eco-sensitive gardens boasting graywater irrigation, rainwater catchments, food forests, permeable surfaces, living roofs and walls, beehives and chickens. Gardens are in Windsor, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and North Marin. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May. 11.
- Architectural Tour of The Sea Ranch and Gualala with Wine Tasting & Auction: The Soroptimists International of the Mendocino-Sonoma Coast and the Gualala Arts Center host this self-guided tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 11 of more than half a dozen coastal area homes including Donlyn Lyndon's 2008 redesign of Hidden Treasures, a three level home on a forested slope first built in 1979. Lyndon is one of the original designers of The Sea Ranch development and worked on the landmark Sea Ranch Condominium One, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Lyndon, who was on the faculty at UC Berkeley and MIT, still has a place at The Sea Ranch with his artist wife, Alice Wingwall.
- An exhibit on architecture will be held at the Gualala Arts Center through May 26 and will include a special salute to “A Family With Designs on Place,” highlighting the talents of the Lyndon family. Donlyn's late father Maynard Lyndon also was an architect known for his pioneering use of floor-to-ceiling glass. His brother Maynard Hale Lyndon, a product designer, co-founded a series of innovative stores in New England called Placewares, focusing on storage solutions. Maynard and Lu Lyndon now live in Sea Ranch and have a single shop in Gualala, also called Placewares, featuring modern and contemporary home accessories. The tour will be followed by a wine tasting and auction at the Gualala Arts Center. Cost is $55 in advance or $60 the day of the tour at the Stewarts Point Store and Gualala Arts Center, 46501 Gualala Road. Tickets for the wine tasting and auction are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the tour. or call 800-838-3006.
- The National Garden Conservancy holds its annual Open Days Program in May and June, with a number of featured gardens in Marin and Mendocino counties.
On May 11, the Gardens at Harmony Woods as well a private garden in Little River will welcome visitors. Open Days returns to the Mendocino coast on June 6, featuring the gardens surrounding Digging Dog Nursery in Albion and the Moss Garden in Mendocino County.
On June 1, several Marin County gardens, all in Kentfield, open their gates, including the Geraniaceae Gardens, the Co-Ten Zen garden and the Vista Garden.
All gardens are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the designated days. Cost is $5 per garden or $25 for a book of six tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call 888-842-2442.
- The Sonoma County Medical Alliance Garden Tour: Six gardens in the Petaluma area will be featured, including a three-acre ranch garden, an unexpectedly vivacious garden hidden away in an eastside cul-de-sac and a whimsical urban garden with zany sculptures, garden puns and topiaries. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 17 and 18. A $40 ticket ($10 for kids ages 5-10) is good both days. Special attractions include live music, master gardeners and to give advice, pottery for sale and featured artist Peggy Sebera painting en plein aire. The tour benefits local non-profits., email or call 578-4537.
- Food for Thought's Western Sonoma County Home & Garden Tour: Eight diverse properties, including a permaculture demonstration garden, are dressed for visitors for this year's tour running from 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. May 19. Box lunches can be pre-ordered for $12.50 and can be enjoyed at the Food for Thought organic gardens, 6550 Railroad Ave., Forestville. Tickets can be ordered at, at Food for Thought office or by calling 887-1647.
- Resorts in Bloom: Eight Western Sonoma County resorts and inns welcome day visitors to stroll their immaculate gardens and landscapes from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on June 8 and 9. The event opens with a VIP reception at VML Winery June 7 for $50, including a one-day pass. A wine tasting after Saturday's tour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is $50, including one-day pass. Tickets otherwise are $30 for one day or $50 for both days. The event benefits the West County Health Centers. For tickets visit

It meant pulling up stakes from Santa Rosa, where they had lived for many years in a 1930s ranch house in the Chanate area that they loved. But settling near downtown Healdsburg was an easy transition. Montecuollo is the owner of Ann Marie's Fine Jewelry, right off the Healdsburg plaza, and had long thought it would be great to live nearby.

The couple bought out Lane's partner on the project and set about making what otherwise would have been a generic investment property into a place that is very much their own.

The result is a Craftsman updated for the millennium with many classic Arts and Crafts features, but with a bright, contemporary openness.

The cedar-shingled house, intriguingly hidden off one of Healdsburg's semi-secret old alleys, is one of seven homes that will be featured on the 23rd annual AAUW Healdsburg Homes Tour on May 5.

One of the unique aspects of the house is its location — a flag-shaped lot hidden behind a pair of bungalows on Tucker Street. Except for the address printed on the curb, you would never know it's there.

A shady walkway between two other homes leads to a gate and one of two main entrances. From Tucker, the house faces a cheerful cottage garden brightly planted for spring with irises and roses.

The house has a second main entrance that faces an alley.

The house is within the Haydon Addition, one of the oldest parts of the town, and included with the 1867 incorporated city limits of Healdsburg. The original parcels in Haydon's Addition extended back to Alley Two and another alley known as Alley One.

Carriage and horse barns were typically built behind houses, hidden from the main street view, and accessed by narrow alleys. Five of them still exist in the older part of Healdsburg.

While some people might prefer to have their homes face the street in a more conventional way, Lane says that being tucked back off an alley is one of his favorite things about the house.

“It's like having a little country road out there. People walk their dogs. It's nice,” he said. “Some people would probably like to be on the main street and have a nice big porch. But I just like this for the privacy. Also, we get a lot of parking in the back, which is difficult in Healdsburg.”

This is the first home that Lane has designed and built for himself pretty much from the ground up, although he has been building for others for some 40 years.

Formally trained as an engineer, he came west in the late 1960s but became disillusioned after realizing that all the available jobs were in the defense industry. So after finishing his master's degree at UC Berkeley, he started picking up money as a musician and working on building projects, including Berkeley's famed Chez Panisse restaurant in the early 1970s. He wound up getting his own contracting license 30 years ago.

The house isn't strictly Craftsman, although it has many signature Arts and Crafts details, such as the medium-pitched, multi-gabled roofline with overhangs and divided light windows. A clerestory window built into the pitch of the living room ceiling adds light to the open living area, which Lane designed to pick up the sun's light throughout the day.

The fireplace, bracketed by built-in cupboards and bookcases, over which are cut classic small rectangular windows, sets a strong Craftsman tone to the interior, as do the Douglas fir floors.

Tapered wood pillars set off the living room from the sunny dining area. But the interior is much brighter than a typical Craftsman, with trim and paneling painted cottage white. The walls are all of natural Tobias Stucco, by Forestville's Randy Johnson, and pigmented in various shades of soft yellow.

One of Lane's favorite spots in the house is a breakfast nook, a nostalgic reminder of his old family home in New England. It is here, in this old-fashioned cozy corner of the kitchen, where he and Montecuollo eat most of their informal meals.

If he had done the house for himself from the foundation up, he might have made it a little smaller. But at 2,900 square feet, it's still comfortably sized.

“It's amazing,” he said with a laugh, “how you grow into a house.”

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at or 521-5204.

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