California has a reputation for some pretty wild and wacky architectural trends, many of which were noted by the late, great Huell Howser in his California’s Gold TV series. In filming California’s Gold, Howser traveled the length and breadth of the Golden State taking note of places, events, and people that captured his interest. One of his early road trips took him along the famed Route 66 to Newberry Springs where he didn’t find the buffalo, pistachios, or ostriches he was expecting – but he did find a home that is one of those only-in-California kind of places.
When the home on Silver Valley Road came up for sale last month, it captured my interest, not only because it had once been owned by Huell Howser, but because the Volcano House is a quintessential piece of far-out Mid-Century Modern architecture. Set atop the cinder cone of an extinct volcano, the geodesic-style home was designed by architect Harold Bissner Jr. and constructed in 1970. One of its stunning features is a 360º observation deck offering sweeping views of the Mojave Desert. Howser purchased the home in 2003 and years later donated it to Chapman University. This September Chapman University put the home up for sale and within a few weeks the Volcano House sold for a reputed $100k over asking. The lucky buyers have not only purchased an architectural piece of Mid-Century Modern history, but are also owners of a piece of Huell Howser’s California’s Gold.