Thursday Doors – James Hubbell’s Doors and More

Several weeks ago, I saw an announcement about upcoming tours of a local artist’s compound. After closing the property to outsiders for two years due to Covid, they were once again opening it up to a limited number of visitors. In the past when I had read about these tours, I was interested but, for whatever reason, hadn’t gone. There was always an excuse, however, if I’m being completely honest, it boiled down to “Maybe I’ll go next year.”

If Covid has taught us anything, it is that “next year” isn’t guaranteed, and that things can change seemingly overnight. Even though this is true for everyone, at every age, it is especially true for those of us with more years behind us than in front of us. With this in mind – and not wanting to risk my inner procrastinator taking over – I went straight to my computer to reserve two tickets. I am so glad I did.

The compound, designed and built by James Hubbell, sits on a 40-acre ranch near the mountain town of Julian, California. An internationally renowned artist, poet, and architectural designer, Hubbell is widely known for his organic-style buildings which are works of art. His hand-crafted doors, stained glass windows, gates, and sculptures using wood, stone, metal, glass, and clay can be found throughout the property. Although most of the structures were built in the 1950s and 60s, several had to be rebuilt when a wildfire raced through the area in 2003. Now in his 90s, Hubbell no longer lives on the property, but his sons and the foundation he created, carry on his vision and his legacy.

Here are a few of the fabulous doors and windows I saw during the hour-long tour. I will share more next week.

Not only was the stained glass created on-site but the door hardware was also hand-forged on-site.
Mosaic and stained glass in one of the restrooms.

All windows and doors were unique works of art.
One of the several studios found on the property.
Close-up of the studio door. Note the beautiful hand-forged hinges and door pull (and cute kitty).
Even closer look at the door pull.

Meeting room door with hand-forged metal work.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at James Hubbell’s compound. Please come back next Thursday to see more of this incredible artist’s work. In the meantime, check out Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors post and see the doors that others have shared.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

137 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – James Hubbell’s Doors and More”

  1. Janis, what a treat to see so many design elements integrated together. I think these are the most unique doors I’ve seen on Thursday Doors!

    1. The whole compound felt very organic and the buildings enhanced rather than competed or overwhelmed the natural setting. He has designed buildings around the world and now I want to see them too (although I probably couldn’t gain access to the personal dwellings 🙂 ).

  2. I’m amazed at how a few details can turn an ordinary door, and ordinary door handle, an ordinary window into something completely extraordinary! Thank you for sharing this extraordinary view with us!

  3. These are fantastic doors, Janis, and I love the metal work. From the soft shapes to the ornamentation. I like everything I see here. I look forward to seeing more photos from this compound.

  4. I’m so glad you got those tickets so you could share Hubbell’s artwork and vision, Janis! The metal work on the doors and the stained glass is quite extraordinary. All that mosaic tile in the restroom is simply stunning.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I can’t believe I lived in San Diego for more than 50 years (before moving north to Tehachapi) and never visited Hubbell’s place. Very interesting… Thanks again!

  6. Hi, Janis – I am currently tending to a family emergency, I could not agree with you more about ‘Seize the Day – Tomorrow in not guaranteed.” I am so glad that you booked htose tickets. These doors and windows are breathtaking!

  7. A perfect entry for the Thursday Doors theme! What a fascinating place, full of eye candy, Janis. I’d like to say “I wish I knew about this compound while we were parked on our friend’s property in Julian,” but we had zero time for entertainment. Maybe next time? If I’m allowed to say this. 🙂

  8. What a beautiful, interesting place! I’m so glad you visited and shared it with us. It reminds me a bit of the Earthship Community outside of Taos, NM. We’ve driven through Julian a number of times and I never knew about this place. If we ever get back that way, it’s now on my list. And I’m with you about not postponing what we want to do. Thanks for the great tour!

    1. Because he lived on the property until just recently, the compound was only opened for one large tour once a year on Fathers Day. Now that he has moved off the mountain, they plan to do more, but smaller, tours, which I prefer anyway. I hope that you’ll get the opportunity to see it (and let me know that you are in the area 🙂 ). I’ll check out the Earthship Community… it sounds interesting.

  9. Oh such a treat to experience this via your post, Janis. While the Julian property is a lot larger, it does remind me of the Cosenti compound in Phoenix…(he)artists living the life…It fills me to the brim.

  10. Wow! What a cool place! I loved the pictures you shared. The door with the forged metal designs was my favorite but they all were so beautiful. Good for you for going for it. I have been telling myself the same thing. Do it now!

  11. Gorgeous! The doors are unique and I’m intrigued by the hand-forged door hardware. You live in a region that is endlessly fascinating to me. Thanks for sharing your photos here.

  12. What an idea – turning your home into art. Thanks for sharing the tour. (I do confess I am wondering who cleans all those beautiful things – because they are wonderfully-kept and very detailed)

  13. Wow! What a fabulously, artistic, mildly weird, gorgeous place! Doors truly can be fascinating. We recently went to Sante Fe. Everything… everything… was pretty tan there… Except the doors!!! They were fantastic! (I might actually have one on the painting easel right now!)

  14. How neat! Thanks for sharing all the beautiful photos. I totally agree with you, if you want to do something, do it now if at all possible 🙂

  15. Janis, Such beautiful artworks using a variety of natural materials. Thank you for sharing your photos. I’m glad you went and took pictures.

  16. When we lived in So. Cal., we visited Julian several times, but I didn’t know about Hubbell’s compound. What an exceptional variety of doors. They’re all beautiful in their own way, all the detail so stunning. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Those stained glass doors are fantastic. I can’t imagine the work that has gone into them or how much they cost.

    Thanks for the tour, Janis. I look forward to part 2 next week.

  18. Stunning photos, Janis! Perfect for this post! Truly works of art. I am always in awe of creativity and “hand-forged.” All of it is amazing, yet I likely would spend a longer time than necessary in the restroom.😊

    Thank you for prompting me to make sure I take part in many of the events around here. I wholeheartedly agree how “next year” isn’t guaranteed. I look forward to next week’s post. Thank you for sharing, Janis. 💕

  19. Oh my goodness, what an amazing place. Those hand forged door handles are beautiful. The buildings so organic! It reminds me of project ideas I dreamt of, but could not and didn’t even think were possible. That meeting place door reminds me of Norwegian Rosemaling so much I am going to use it as inspiration for a design. What a talent!

  20. It looks beautiful there! The buildings reminded of a house in Hillsborough, CA. I’m glad you didn’t procrastinate any longer and went. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your images from the place.

  21. Really amazing place! That bathroom photo was extraordinary. Just thinking of the time it took to create these works wore me out and I had to go take a nap.😂

  22. Impressive studio. And your photos captured the coolness in it. I love the city of Julian, and every once in awhile on our way to San Diego, we stop there for lunch. Out of the way yes, but worth. Thanks for this. Donna

  23. I’m so happy you went and that you shared it with us – YAY!!! Way to seize the day! That’s a gorgeous place. You picked beautiful examples to share in this post. Thank you for inspiring us not to focus on next year, today is here for the enjoying. 🥰

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