Only Marin home designed by Sea Ranch architect Obie Bowman lists

Sod-roof “Cope House” was a custom build for a former owner of the Huntington Hotel

San Francisco /
Sep.September 20, 2021 01:00 PM
The Cope House at 34 Wolfback Terrace, Sausalito (Obie Bowman and Water Tower Creative)
The Cope House at 34 Wolfback Terrace, Sausalito (Obie Bowman and Water Tower Creative)

Corrected 9/28/2021 8:20 a.m. [A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the homeowner’s first name.]
From his first visit to the rugged coastline community of Sea Ranch, Newton Cope Jr. fell in love with the Obie Bowman-designed homes. The architect is one of the visionaries behind the Mendocino community’s wood-on-wood aesthetic, but his work is rarely seen outside that development.

Cope set out to change that, commissioning the only Bowman-designed home in Marin.

Cope, who bears the name of his famous father, a bon vivant hotelier dubbed the “nabob of Nob Hill,” helped run the family’s hotel empire for more than 30 years. In 2005, he was tired of the commute from his San Rafael home into San Francisco, where the family owned the Huntington Hotel and The Big Four restaurant.

The Cope House at 34 Wolfback Terrace, Sausalito (Obie Bowman and Water Tower Creative)
The Cope House at 34 Wolfback Terrace, Sausalito (Obie Bowman and Water Tower Creative)

He had his eye out for something in Sausalito when he learned of a vacant lot for sale just minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge. After checking out the steep hillside location, with its sweeping eastern views, Cope knew Bowman was the only architect who could do the property justice. His wife needed more convincing.

“My wife couldn’t see how in the heck you could ever build a house in this spot. But for Obie it had all the right elements,” Cope said. “He could see it right away.”

The three-bedroom, four-bath home’s final design didn’t change much from Bowman’s initial drawings, which showed rows of slanted windows facing east and a sod roof that makes the home appear as though it’s built into the hillside.

“The way he did it, it looks like we’re hanging off the hill, but we’re really on a plateau,” Cope said, adding that the hillside was dug out to create a home that is structurally secure.

The 4,200-square-foot home’s interior is full of design elements familiar to anyone who knows Bowman’s work. There are Douglas fir floors and ceilings, metal walls, exposed beams and minimal sheetrock. Bowman doesn’t like baseboards, so there are gaps between where the wall ends and the floor begins.

“It’s a truly 100-percent Obie Bowman house,” said Cope, while admitting that “not everyone cares for his style.”

But he hopes the views, natural setting and short commute to San Francisco will draw buyers for the over half-acre property. Cope said he still loves the home but after selling off the family’s hotel portfolio in 2011, he retired and now lives in Carmel.

The “Cope House” was listed by Carmel-based agent Tim Allen with an asking price of $5.25 million.

Allen commissioned a promo video featuring a ballerina from the San Francisco Ballet dancing across the wood floors; it has been viewed over 100,000 times, according to Allen’s marketing director Billy Schmidt.

All those clicks have translated to about 10 showings of the home with “a few buyers circling,” said Laurie Nierenberg of Coldwell Banker, the local agent co-listing the property.

“A client stated that you could not build this house today at a comparable price,” she said.





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    Blackridge's Steve McChesney and renderings of new Fishermans Wharf hotel (Stanton Architecture, Linkedin, Getty)
    Fisherman’s Wharf to host first new hotel in years
    Fisherman’s Wharf to host first new hotel in years
    (Getty)
    Buyers need yearly income above $400K for a home in SF
    Buyers need yearly income above $400K for a home in SF
    Mission Economic Development Agency's Luis Granados (left) and Chinatown CDC's Malcolm Yeung with 1515 South Van Ness Avenue (MEDA, Chinatown CDC, David Baker Architects and Y.A. Studio)
    Nonprofit developers eye 170 affordable units in the Mission District
    Nonprofit developers eye 170 affordable units in the Mission District
    Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and residential construction (Twitter/@PatBurtPA, Getty)
    Palo Alto grapples with state housing goal on deadline
    Palo Alto grapples with state housing goal on deadline
    Compass' Antoine Crumeyrolle with 3450 Washington Street (Compass)
    SF’s most expensive listing takes a $5.5M markdown
    SF’s most expensive listing takes a $5.5M markdown
    Tishman Speyer ceo Rob Speyer and rendering of the project at 655 4th St., San Francisco (Tishman Spreyer, Solomon Cordwell Buenz)
    Tishman Speyer shrinks SoMa towers, citing economy
    Tishman Speyer shrinks SoMa towers, citing economy
    Side’s Casey McLoed (McLoed via Mike Doto)
    Looking up Side’s take on Bay Area residential market
    Looking up Side’s take on Bay Area residential market
    578 Mountain Home Road, $33M
    Woodside estate with 14 acres sells for $33M
    Woodside estate with 14 acres sells for $33M
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...