An oversized glass door leads to the entrance hall of this mid century San Diego home designed by Lloyd Ruocco.
This 1947 home was designed by architect Lloyd Ruocco and serves as a shining example of San Diego mid century architecture. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

Perched on a San Diego hillside overlooking the bay in the Mission Hill neighborhood, this historic California home by architect Lloyd Ruocco is a unique example of the city’s local architecture and boasts some of the most stunning views in the area. The 1947 home holds a Mills Act certification, giving it the distinguished designation as a building of historic significance.

And now, for what is only the third time since the house was constructed, it just so happens to be on the market! Let’s take a look inside.

The porch of a San Diego mid century home, from which the San Diego bay can be seen.
This mid century San Diego home comes with some of the most stunning views in the city. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

The Architect

The home was designed by Lloyd Ruocco, a San Diego native and prolific architect of the Modernist style. He made his mark by shunning the cyclical rehashing of architectural revival styles to pursue original designs that were sensitive to their native surroundings.

A plaque on the exterior wall of a house shows the home’s historical designation by the city of San Diego due to the home’s famed designer, Lloyd Ruocco.
This house holds Mills Act certification due to its historic significance as an example of mid century architect Lloyd Ruocco’s stunning work. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

A contemporary of Richard Requa, William Templeton Johnson and Lillian Rice, Ruocco attended U.C. Berkeley before returning to his hometown and to make a name for himself as a local architectural legend. He worked on over 100 projects in the area, and his contributions are considered to be among the best examples of the city’s mid century designs.

The home is named for it’s original owners, James Don and Rita H. Keller, though the most recent owners of the property are two San Diego locals and mid century enthusiasts who undertook extensive renovations of the house during their time as conservators.

Throughout the process, the couple were determined to keep the essential components of the home intact, and the care they put into ensuring the renovation was done properly is fully evident throughout the building.

Mid Century Modern terraced landscape
The home is comfortably situated on a hill, with terraced spaces that follow the form of the landscape. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

Distinctly Modernist

The Keller House is unmistakably Modernist in design; with clean geometric lines, floor-to-ceiling windows that combine indoor and outdoor living, an open concept layout, period-inspired light fixtures, sliding doors and naturally-finished wood accents.

Views over San Diego from the master bedroom of this historically significant Mid Century Modern home
Stunning views are not limited to the home’s entertaining spaces, but are also enjoyed from the privacy of the master bedroom as well. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

The Keller House contains three bedrooms, all with large en suite bathrooms, and there’s an additional half bath off the upstairs hallway. While the most recent owners resided in the home, they focused on upgrading the interior with up-to-date amenities, while taking great pains during the process to preserve as many viable interior features as they could. The exterior has received the same attention, preserving the original vision as Lloyd Ruocco saw it.

The kitchen, surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, with a dining table and chairs on the left and an island with stools and cabinetry on the right.
Opening the floor plan in the kitchen allows the space to maximize  storage and work space, without compromising the view.

Renovations included repositioning interior walls and opening the kitchen to give the home a more even flow. Some of the downstairs space was also reconfigured, as the area wasn’t livable when the current owners first acquired the home. Now, the extension is fully usable and can accommodate a larger family.

The entryway floors are polished concrete, leading to hardwood floors in the main living area and the master bedroom. New quartz countertops, custom built cabinetry, and two islands provide the kitchen with a convenient layout and upscale style. The appliances — including the oven, microwave, cooktop, and under-counter wine refrigerator — were all recently replaced with high-end brands.

Stunning Views

One classic aspect of a Ruocco structure is the designer’s propensity to site homes in a way that maximized their views, which is on full display here.

The main living space of the home is pictured with a fireplace on the left and mid century furnishings. Floor to ceiling windows take up the majority of walls.
Floor to ceiling windows provide unparalleled views from the moment you enter this Lloyd Ruocco original home. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

From the moment you enter the cross-reeded glass front door, the expansive nature of the windows on the back of the house provide breathtaking views of the San Diego Bay, Point Loma and portions of San Diego’s vibrant downtown.

On a clear day, the Coronado Islands are often visible, while in the evening all the lights from downtown and the airport provide illuminated views of the city.

Unique Exterior

A 1,200 square foot deck off the back of the house is comprised of Ipe wood, a Brazilian hardwood that’s even harder than redwood. A low wall accentuated by iron and wire railing is designed to allow you to drink in the views even when you’re sitting down with good company and a glass of wine.

A large deck with outdoor furniture overlooks the San Diego Bay, with Chinese elms framing the view.
This 1200 square foot deck is built from Ipe wood, a type of hardwood even tougher than redwood. Photo courtesy of Woods Real Estate Services.

Outside is an extensive terraced yard, nestled among Chinese elm trees which frame the view. The overall effect is an effortless combination of mid century-era architectural mastery and the elegance of a modern luxury home.

Historic San Diego Home Details

  • Situated high in the Mission Hills area of San Diego
  • Expansive floor-to-ceiling glass windows and an oversized Fleetwood sliding doors
  • 1200 square foot porch deck above a terraced yard
  • Bedrooms : 3
  • Bathrooms: 4
  • Square Feet: 3,300
  • Two split-unit ACs, radiant heating

For inquiries, contact listing agent Richard T. Woods with Woods Real Estate Services. (619) 347-9866,  richtwoods@gmail.com, or visit WoodsRealEstateServices.com.