Historic Building Preservation and Reality:

“ The property is associated with the lives of two people significant in our past: the owner, Newton Bass, and the architect, Francisco Artigas.  The property also embodies the distinctive characteristics and method of construction of the Modern/International Movement architectural period.  The building represented the work of the master Modern architect and possessed high artistic values.” Jennifer H. Oeschger, M.A. Candidate, Historic Preservation, Savannah College of Art and Design.

Robert Luna photo credit

Robert Luna photo credit

What was to be his families’ home, Newton Bass built the Hilltop House in heart of the valley. It was an awe-inspiring 1950’s classic, nearly 7000 sq. ft. designed by the internationally known Mexican architect, Francisco Artigas. It was the crown jewel of the valley for the era, costing an estimated $250,000. The property also embodies the distinctive characteristics and method of construction of the Modern/International Movement architectural period. The Hilltop House is one of our valley’s treasured landmarks and represents the work of the modern master architect.

Jennifer is a member of our Steering Committee and her contributions towards recognition of the internationally known architect, Francisco Artigas and our own Newton Bass can be found through her research documented in her mock historic building nomination thesis.  She chose HH because she was drawn to its lore and saddened by its current state of indifference and decay. Her work and research have been invaluable to AVLT.

The process of discovery lead her to a sad recognition that HH does not hold critical and tangible building elements necessary to apply for historical preservation at any level.  A building must exist in order to qualify for nomination.  According to vintage newspaper articles and stories of those who were there, HH was decimated by the 1967 fire.  The rebuild one year later was in favor of Corporate Conference Center (CCC) and designed by a new architect.  The CCC was designed to echo the original homes classic lines and this was further supported by re-using portions of the existing foundation.

Jennifer’s work gives real insight to the story of HH and will be a great tool in pursuit of a County landmark designation and perhaps the first such designation for Apple Valley.  Her passion for HH also shows that the appeal of this story reaches far beyond our Community as Jennifer lives out of Town.

“Period of Significance :  The period of significance is during the Mid-20th Century.  Specifically, the home was constructed in 1947, burned in a fire in 1967, was subsequently rebuilt as a Conference Center and suffered another small fire in 2009. The Hilltop House currently serves as a de-facto park where Apple Valley residents and other tourists traipse the barren hillsides or hike up the established trails to view what remains of the house.  The Apple Valley community is attempting to gauge how much support there is for a restoration of the property.  There is also a faction of community members who would like the eyesore demolished.” Jennifer H Oeschger, The Technology of Historic Buildings, November 15, 2012

For more pictures go to: