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When native Minnesotan Jan Anderson first visited Arizona as a child, she discovered a natural affinity with the brilliant light, desert hues and storied history of the ancient land that included Montezuma’s Castle and Mesa Verde.

A TERRA COTTA AERIE BLENDS SPANISH AND NATIVE AMERICAN INFLUENCES TO CREATE AN ELEGANT AND EARTHY ABODE.
TEXT BY DEBORAH DONOHUE
IMAGES BY ROGER WADE

In 1997 Anderson and her late husband decided to build their own version of a hilltop Paradise, one that would be embraced by a Ponderosa Pine forest and a breathtaking view of the twinkling lights of Prescott. Enter Bill Otwell, an architect with a passion for passive solar design, and long time adobe aficionado. Otwell’s sensibilities dove-tailed perfectly with the couple’s penchant for an organic and earth friendly home, one complete with curves and angles replicating the slopes of the surrounding hills. Otwell enlisted contractor and adobe expert Joe Culhane, along with local craftsmen, to manifest the shared vision. The result: a gorgeous, comfortable and “green” abode constructed from the elements of the earth it rests upon; one that beautifully utilizes the sun, storing and radiating its warmth and light efficiently and cost effectively.

It was obtained from a local Native American reservation and carried out by a team of horses, after a special blessing and honoring by the tribe. The massive trunk with vigas carved into its top has become a spiritual totem of the home. Elizabeth Spengler masterfully handled the kitchen design, sourcing cabinetry from Bill Draper, DBS. The “French Country” cabinets are a distressed scrub pine with a light honey stain, the wood hand-planed and hand-pegged. Each piece was built on a workbench and personally signed. Countertops are Peach Cashmere granite.  A hand-painted kiva fireplace between the bright breakfast room and kitchen lends a charming focal point. The sunflower yellow hickory chair provides a perfect place to take in the view or toast marshmallows.



“Vigas” of Douglas fir interspersed with “latillas” (meaning sticks) of aspen saplings are arranged in a herringbone pattern in the ceiling in the Great Room. The hearth is authentic, natural adobe and finished plaster formed by hand. The custom grate is by local artisan and blacksmith Brian Hughes, who forged the ironwork throughout the home. Rich shades of aubergine, mustard, gold and terracotta, along with traditional “nichos” set in the deep adobe walls give the room a south of the border feel. Leather sofas are from Leathermen’s Guild.

 




A saintly icon gazes benevolently from the “nicho” or niche above a colonial antique chair that gives a stately presence to the powder room. The antiqued gold framed mirror was another local find.



A CENTURIES OLD CHURCH DOOR IS REPURPOSED AS A DINING TABLE
The door is anchored on two pedestals connected by a reclaimed oxen yoke complete with ring still intact. Luxe,  pumpkin-colored leather chairs with nail head accents are from Bausman and Company.  The soft curves and muted finish of the adobe surrounding the hearth–one of eight in the residence–balances the rugged feel of a rough-hewn mantelpiece. The rustic mantel was crafted from an old bench of Sabino wood (from trees now extinct, but that once thrived in Sabino Canyon near Tucson.). Crowning the room is an  elaborate and perfectly scaled chandelier discovered in a local retail shop, and made, surprisingly, of tin.

Architect:                                                           
Bill Otwell
otwell-architects.net

Interiors:
Mary Margaret Rognlien,
Mary Margaret Designer Showroom  
Elizabeth Spengler
doradodesigns.com

Builder
Joe Culhane
culhanecontractingllc.com