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David Owen Dryden and the Transformation of the San Diego Suburbs

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, July 28th, 2017 at 12:38pm.

The Craftsman, or Arts and Crafts Movement, began as a reaction to the industrial age and Victorian homes of the era . In Europe, they strove to bring attention back to the detail that only hand crafted design brings; in America, they had larger plans. The simple structures adorned with such precise decorative arts and living in harmony with their natural environments would assure the middle class that they too were worthy of such beautiful homes.

One famous designer of this movement was David Owen Dryden, who ushered the craftsman style bungalows into San Diego’s Balboa Park. Dryden’s opportunity came when large scale homes and commercial buildings dominated the more well-known architects of the region around 1911-1912. His homes typified the Arts and Crafts Movement and quickly changed the landscape of the area. He made works of art out of seemingly simple yet high-quality materials.

Many have their opinions on David Owen Dryden's work, and we dug deep to find you some fun fast facts to enjoy this Friday:

  • Dryden’s original bungalows sold for nearly twice the going rate, and so were mainly owned by professionals, doctors or retirees. There’s no denying they got their money’s worth; many of those homes are still intact today.

  • After a supposed “modernizing” of some of his buildings with stucco or other artificial siding, many owners recently restored Dryden’s original facings and relish the more natural traditions and materials.

  • A Japanese style holds a special place in a Dryden bungalow. By exposing the wooden frames, Dryden brought an entirely new feeling to the neighborhood and embraced the landscapes on which his buildings sat. Some feel he got too extravagant with this influence and sacrificed the integrity of the style, particularly at 3553 28th Street.

  • He could often build a house from frame to finish in six weeks, bringing even greater profit for each property.

  • Even with this exceptional turnaround time and extraordinary eye, Dryden apparently couldn't manage his money enough to keep any of the multiple fortunes he made throughout his lifetime. Family describe him as never keeping an account or tracking his personal expenses, and threw his money around frivolously.

  • In 2011, The North Park Historical Society named a 6 block area housing 136 homes The North Park Dryden Historic District. The entire process took twenty years, but finally, master builder David Owen Dryden received the recognition for his significant architectural achievements in San Diego.

If you want to see the San Diego Craftsman for yourself, check out our #SearchWithStyle or contact us to learn which beautiful homes are on the market.

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